Top positive review
4.0 out of 5 starsLike the tablets. Dislike the lack of Setup info for Parental Controls from Amazon.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 23, 2022
TL;DR --- The tablets are good. Amazon's interface for setup and for parental controls has not improved since our last experience. I'm a week in to having these in my home and SO irked that the experience hasn't gotten better in the 4 years since our last Kids+ tablet purchase.
This is our second experience purchasing the Amazon Fire Kids+ Tablets. We had a previous generation for ~4 years and they were fine for our kiddos at the time. As the kids are now 5 and 7 years old (and the other tablets were sllllowwwwwww), it was time to upgrade! They did some chores to 'earn' them. It was all very cute. I compared and strongly considered going with iPads for ease of use, but the cost savings with Amazon Fire Tablets was substantia due to the trade-in value of the old tablets, the promo they were running for trade-in's and some Amazon credit we had saved up.
The screens are a far improvement. The larger size is wonderful, and the kids are enjoying their cool new cases which they got to pick out AND have the stand/handle feature. (My oldest went with the black case and immediately decorated it to make it her own with her sticker collection. Our youngest went with the doodle case and its cute.)
I like that you can choose the 'younger' Kids+ interface OR the 'older' Kids+ interface. (That is not mentioned in features on the shopping site here. But, I found it buried in the parental controls as an option yesterday and I'm so glad! My 5 year old is already benefitting from that, as she has not yet started reading, so it's easier for her.)
THE GOOD: The screens are good. They actually charge and hold a longer charge than the previous ones. Cool cases. Fun games. In the end, my kids don't care what I do with setup, as long as they get to play a few games they like and get their screentime. They do not know the difference between this and any other brand of tablet. Because, they are 5 and 7. And while they literally have opinions about everything. They do not understand that Amazon is a commercially driven giant who just wants their parents money and mine our family's data as best they can. (I get that I still bought the darn tablets. Life is about balance.)
ISSUES WITH AMAZON'S SETUP AND PARENT CONTROLS/DASHBOARD:
- Ok... the booklet that comes in the box is a useless waste of glossy paper. It basically says 'hello. turn on tablet. follow setup instructions on screen.' SAVE THE PAPER, AMAZON. It's 2022. At least make it more recyclable so I don't feel bad immediately throwing it in the trash. It makes the 'Climate Pledge Friendly' icon look even more like pedantic greenwashing. Your consumers are smart, Amazon. Get it together.
- Setup instructions are SO basic once you open it up on screen.
- There is seemingly a 'parental controls' option you can access from the Amazon Fire Tablet that is NOT the same as the Parent Dashboard for Kids+. This is confusing and frustrating. My husband and I are both very 'with it' Millenial types who understand technology. And we were both just getting mad at these cheap tablets. We were very close to sending them back and biting the bullet on the price tag of two iPads... just for our own mental health.
- Parental controls are most easily accessed online from a computer. I couldn't access all the options from the tablet or even my phone.
- Once you get into the parental controls, there were no explanations of what the info really means. And there were lots of options buried that were just frustrating to find. The 'call' feature all of a sudden DISAPPEARED from my 5 year old's tablet. I searched in all the places, tried 'sharing' the Alexa app from the parent profile to the kid+ profile... nada. I had to get onto Amazon chat to manage getting that found and even that person didn't quite know where to find it at first. They sent me 4 different things to try and I was thissssss close to doing a factory reset mere days after getting the tablet. I found the unchecked box eventually, but good grief. (This is merely ONE of MANY examples of my annoyances with this system interface.)
- Speaking of the "CALL" feature... some notes: the video/call quality is roughly ~80% there. It'll do. But, the call features are NOT available if my kids are playing certain games. So, I cannot drop in, announce, or call them from another room to blissfully say, 'hey sweetie... 5 more minutes until dinner.' It constantly tells me they are unavailable. And then when they call anyone else, it drops calls pretty easily. Real life with these tablets is apparently not like the commercials. (Our family has really amazing fiber internet, so it is absolutely the tablet's fault here.)
- I had --- of course! --- checked out the FAQ/Help sections on the website first. None of them were helpful. All were basic, generic, etc.
Here's what I think Amazon should do:
- Add some printing to the box insert that says 'hello. turn on tablet. follow setup instructions on screen.' and cut the useless waste of glossy paper.
- Significantly improve the usability of the setup screen and instructions! Parents are busy and do not inherently speak your in-house 'Amazon' language; some of which has changed since the last time we had to truly setup one of these things. Create a setup that literally walks parents through a 'yes/no' of features that they want to set up for their child right then and there with the option to find it EASILY later. Again... It's 2022! Use pictures. Give me info on what you're even talking about; maybe even some 'best practices' of what you intended it to be used like, what other parents might use it like, etc. Just ask me one screen at a time what I want my kids screen-time to be like, if I want them to be able to Call people and who, then tell me HOW to setup that call system (not everyone has or wants an Alexa device in their home - so you have to actually tell us how to set it up if someone doesn't have a device)... like, just do the whole 'explain it to me like I'm five' but respect me like I'm paying for your CEO's space bill thing. Ok? Thanks.
- Work on that "call" app in the Kids+ side of things. It's a really cool option for us to give our kids, but it is lacking in interface design and ease. (Why can't I update the robot icon to a picture of the person they are trying to call? Wouldn't that be gosh darn cute and easier for a kid who wants to call that person I've approved for them?!) And it should have the capacity to override - at least as a banner notification - when my kids are in whatever app they're in. Like any other 'phone' call type of thing would be.
I'm a busy parent and just want this thing to work long enough so that my kids can stare at it, maybe learn some things, let them call my sister while she's attempting to work from home, and then get dinner started without them asking me for snacks every few minutes. The hardware is there. The software is not.
Vent over. I hope this helps at least one person make the best decision for their family. And I hope Amazon hears my pleas before I have to buy another tablet for the kiddos.
Be well, all.