Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 7.0 review

Pros

  • Sturdy build and playful design
  • Engaging kids interface
  • Preloaded child-friendly apps

Cons

  • Parental controls are somewhat limited
  • Lower resolution display
  • Pricey

The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 7.0 is essentially a playfully remixed Galaxy Tab 3 with custom software to help parents keep tabs on their kids' Tab. And while it comes preloaded with a fair amount of child-friendly features and apps, the £199 asking price is too high, especially considering that the original Galaxy Tab 3 can now be picked up for £140.

Design

Aside from the bright yellow colour, the Tab 3 Kids 7.0 and standard Tab 3 7.0 are physically identical, both measuring 110 x 10 x 190mm (WxDxH), and weighing 340 grams. Its width is considerably less than the Kindle Fire HD (which is 128 x 10.6 x 191mm), and that makes the tablet more manageable for smaller hands.

There's nothing inherently rugged about its all-plastic design, but Samsung sells it bundled with a rubber bump case with an adjustable handle that doubles as a stand and a stylus. While I think that this is actually a nice accessory, it's definitely overpriced. The capacitive stylus has a soft rubber tip that works well for drawing apps, but it's not the most precise tool.

The 7in, 1,024 x 600-pixel display is the same panel found on the standard Tab 3, which isn't necessarily a good thing. It's got a nice wide viewing angle and gets moderately bright, but this screen is a blast from the past – it's the same resolution Samsung's been using since the original Galaxy Tab 7. The TFT LCD doesn't look all that bad, especially with typical kid-friendly content featuring big and bold lettering, but it lags behind the Kindle Fire HD and Fuhu Nabi 2 with their 1,280 x 800-pixel displays.

This is a Wi-Fi only tablet that connects to 802.11b/g/n networks on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and there's also Bluetooth for connecting to wireless accessories. The Tab 3 Kids comes in a single 8GB model, but its microSD card slot works with cards of up to 64GB capacity.

In our battery rundown test, which loops a video with Wi-Fi on and screen brightness set to maximum, the Tab 3 Kids lasted 6 hours and 21 minutes. It's short of the Nabi 2's 7 hours and 42 minutes, but it’s still enough to last your kids through a day of moderate use.

The Tab 3 Kids uses the same dual-core 1.2GHz Marvell processor found in the adult Tab 3. It's a modest setup that makes for smooth operation, but it'll struggle with higher end apps and games like Asphalt 8 and even Temple Run 2.

Android and parental controls

As with the Nabi 2, Android on the Tab 3 Kids is split into two distinct worlds. The first is your standard TouchWiz version of 4.1.2, which offers pretty much everything you've come to expect from Samsung's Android skin. In Adult mode, you'll find an icon that directs you into the kid-friendly sandboxed world.

Kids mode dispenses with the multiple home screens with grids of icons and widgets, in favour of a stripped down layout with a single carousel of cards representing parent-sanctioned apps. Everything about Kids mode pops with bright and bold colours and animated objects. Above the carousel is a playful animated dog that performs actions when touched. You can make him pilot an airplane, drive a car, or rock out to music. There's also a feline companion that pops up at random intervals to join in the fun. There's no real point to either, but they do lend the interface a laudable level of engagement and playfulness.

Searching through the Google Play app store, you can find a fair amount of alternatives that offer nearly identical functionality. Kids Place, for instance, is a free app that lets parents restrict usage to certain apps and even set timers for usage. It's clunkier and not nearly as polished as Samsung's solution, but it gets the job done and you could easily load it on a non-kid-specific, less expensive Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablet.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids tablet isn't a bad child-friendly companion, but it has two major flaws: A high price and limited parental controls. At £199, it's as expensive as tablets such as the powerful Google Nexus 7, and far pricier than the £119 Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The Nabi 2 also offers more comprehensive parental controls, a higher resolution display, and tons of preloaded content for £149.

In the end, there are just too many better priced options – including getting yourself a much cheaper plain Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 and installing free parental control software on that.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids 7.0

Screen Resolution

1024 x 600 pixels

Operating System

Google Android 4.1.2

Dimensions

110 x 10 x 190mm (WxDxH)

Weight

340g

Screen

7in IPS LCD

RAM

1GB

Camera Resolution

3MP Rear

Ports

miniUSB

Screen Pixels Per Inch

170 ppi

Additional Storage

MicroSD

Processor Speed

1.2GHz

Wi-Fi Compatibility

802.11b/g/n; 2.4GHz/5GHz

Storage Capacity

8GB