Top critical review
An amazing refresh of the base Fire tablet Kids Edition at an affordable price
Reviewed in the United States on June 29, 2019
Original review (June 10, 2019) and six updates at the end of the review (2019: June 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 21 respectively).
ORIGINAL REVIEW: June 10, 2019: 5/5 stars
UPDATED REVIEW: June 30, 2019: 3/5 stars (I docked down two stars for issues mentioned in UPDATE # 3 and # 4, and issues with parental controls).
For background information, I am a professor and a tech geek. I have used Amazon devices for around eight years now. I currently own three Kindle e-readers (1 Kindle Touch, 1 Kindle Paperwhite 3rd generation, and 1 Kindle 10). I also own two Amazon Fire tablets (Kindle 7 – 2015: 5th generation and Kindle 8 – 2018: 8th generation) and 3 Echo devices (1st generation Echo, 2nd generation Echo Dot, and 3rd generation Echo Dot). Please note that I have traded-in some of the dated versions of the above-listed products to get upgraded versions (more on this under the “Saving Money on Purchases” section.)
This device is Amazon’s most recently refreshed (2019 – 9th generation) Fire 7 inch Kids Edition Tablet (henceforth referred to as Fire 7 KE) at an excellent price. The Fire 7 (9th generation) is slightly better than the previous generation. The combination of quality and value are tough to beat, and the tablet does well overall. This is a comprehensive review, but for those looking for the bottom line, scroll down to the bottom to see some feedback on how to save money on purchasing the Fire and my final recommendations.
I have spent the past few days interacting with the Fire, using it, and reading other online reviews about this version to ensure the comprehensiveness and accuracy of information provided in this review. For reference purposes, this Fire model was last refreshed in 2017. This review overlaps with my review of the Fire 7 tablet because both of these are essentially the same tablet but to a different audience.
-THE BOX: The Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet enclosed in the Amazon Kid-Proof case, a quick-start guide, 5W wall adapter, and a USB cord (around 3 foot or 36 inches). The item arrived sealed and packaged well.
- AVAILABILITY: a Black tablet with Pink, Blue, or Purple cases with built-in-stand.
- Key things that have not changed from the prior Fire 7 KE model:
--- Display size remains the same
--- PPI remains the same at 171
--- RAM remains the same at 1 GB of RAM.
--- Speaker and microphone remains the same (mono speaker with built-in microphone)
--- Size specifications stay the same
--- Two-year service plan remains the same
--- 1-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited with automatic renewal at $2.99 per month plus tax. Individuals can cancel this subscription at any time by contacting Amazon Customer Service or the Amazon Parent Dashboard.
- Summary of critical aspects (listed in order of importance) that have changed in this version (Fire 7 Kids Edition: 2019: 9th generation) from prior generation Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet (2017: 7th generation). For the below comparison, the new version will be listed as Fire 2019 and the previous model as Fire 2017.
--- Battery life has declined to 7 hours (1-hour reduction) from the prior version.
--- Charge time has decreased from 6 hours (Fire 2017) to 4 hours (Fire 2019). This is a major plus because it would take forever to charge these tablets). Again, please note that this claim (regarding charging time) holds true only if an Amazon wall outlet is used. The tablet usually notifies you when you are using a non-compatible wall outlet and cable. I have tested charging speeds on third-party wall ports and noticed a substantial increase in charging time as compared to using an Amazon wall outlet. So, ideally, consumers should use only the Amazon wall outlet for fast charging.
--- The new processors: Fire 7 2019 [Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53 1.3 GHz] vs. Fire 7 2017 [Quad Core ARM Cortex-A7 1.3 GHz] is a bit faster. Again, this is my initial assessment. This would require additional testing and I will put in these numbers at a later time when they become available.
--- Camera quality has improved 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording as compared to the prior version.
--- Slight increase in weight (2.3 oz/66 grams) though this item feels sturdier than the preceding model.
--- New built-in stand (definitely a beneficial feature).
- Technical specs and other details:
--- Size: 8.7” x 6.3” x 1.0” (220 x 161 x 25.8 mm)
--- 171 pixels per inch (PPI) with IPS display technology and advanced polarizing filter. This means that there is a bright display with vivid colors and whiter whites for a great viewing experience from all angles.
--- 7-inch screen, 1024 x 600 resolution with SD video playback
--- Internal Storage: 16 GB
--- External Storage: expandable storage using MicroSD card for up to 512 GB + unlimited cloud storage for Amazon digital content purchases.
--- Weight: 16.1 ounces (456 grams)
--- Warranty and Service: 2-year worry-free guarantee: if it breaks, return it, and we'll replace it for free (Amazon really doesn’t ask any questions). The value of this feature cannot be overstated. A tablet in the hands of a child is subject to several drops.
--- Camera: 2MP VGA front-facing camera and rear-facing HD camera
--- Sensors: Accelerometer and light sensor
--- Battery life: Up to 7 hours of battery life
--- Fully charges in 4 hours (if Amazon wall outlet is used)
--- Single-antenna dual-band Wi-Fi. Uses 802.11a/b/g/n with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication. No support offered to connect to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
--- Bluetooth 4.1 LE
--- Ports: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to the computer or for charging the device with the included power adapter; MicroSDXC slot for external storage, and 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated speaker.
--- Built-in microphone
- Some limitations (to be expected because of this tablet being sold at a bargain price and also being the base model of the Fire series):
--- No HD video viewing available
--- Camera specs are sub-par as compared to other costlier tablets (again this might sound oxymoronic...but just pointing it out)
--- Max volume is below average (because of the mono-speaker)
--- Sound quality is average
--- Amazon’s ecosystem is not as massive compared to the Google Play Store and Apple Play Store, but this is a nifty device nevertheless.
--- Amazon’s Silk browser is not as intuitive and user-friendly as more prominent competitors (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.).
--- Some reviewers have claimed that the external storage (MicroSDXC card) is not as responsive as the internal storage (this is not something I have experienced).
--- Because of concerns dealing with volume and sound quality using this model for listening to music, or watching TV shows, movies, etc. might require headphones or a speaker.
*** Please note that this product is only for Ages 3 and up as there is a Choking Hazard with small parts.
- Comparison between Fire 7 KE (this version – 2019 release) and Fire HD 8 KE (2018 release – mid-tier model):
--- Charge time: Fire HD 8 (6 hours) vs. Fire 7 (4 hours)
--- Display Size: Fire HD 8 (8 inches) vs. Fire 7 (7 inches)
--- Video playback: Fire HD 8 (HD video playback) vs. Fire 7 (SD video playback)
--- Resolution: Fire HD 8 (1280 * 800; 189 PPI) vs. Fire 7 (1024 *600; 171 PPI)
--- RAM: Fire HD 8 (1.5 GB RAM) vs. Fire 7 (1 GB RAM)
--- Battery life: Fire HD 8 (10 hours) vs. Fire 7 (7 hours),
--- Speaker: Fire HD 8 (Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers) vs. Fire 7 (Mono speaker)
--- Weight: Fire HD 8 (16.7 oz, 474 g) vs. Fire 7 (16.1 oz, 456 g)
--- Internal Storage: Fire HD 8 (32 GB) vs. Fire 7 (16 GB)
--- Expandable Storage: Fire HD 8 (expandable by to 400 GB) vs. Fire 7 (expandable by up to 512 GB).
--- Colors: Fire HD 8 (Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red, Canary Yellow) vs. Fire 7 (Black, Twilight Blue, Plum, Sage)
--- Cost: Fire HD 8 (16 GB - $79.99; 32 GB - $109.99) vs. Fire HD 7 (16 GB - $49.99; 32 GB - $69.99)
--- Multi-touch: Fire HD 8 (10-point) vs. Fire 7 (5-point)
--- Processors, software version, and cameras remain the same on both units.
- Comparison between Fire 7 KE (this version – 2019 release) and Fire HD 10 KE (2017 release – mid-tier model):
--- Charge time: Fire HD 10 (5 hours) vs. Fire 7 (4 hours)
--- Display Size: Fire HD 10 (10.1 inches) vs. Fire 7 (7 inches)
--- Video playback: Fire HD 10 (HD video playback; 1080p HD resolution) vs. Fire 7 (SD video playback)
--- Resolution: Fire HD 10 (1920 * 1200; 224 PPI) vs. Fire 7 (1024 *600; 171 PPI)
--- Processor: Fire HD 10 [2xARM Cortex-A72 (1.8 GHz), 2xARM Cortex-A53 (1.4 GHz)] vs. Fire 7 inch (ARM Cortex-A53 Quad-Core 1.3 GHz) (basically Fire HD 10 would be substantially faster than either the Fire 7 or Fire HD 8)
--- RAM: Fire HD 10 (2 GB RAM) vs. Fire 7 (1 GB RAM)
--- Battery life: Fire HD 10 (10 hours) vs. Fire 7 (7 hours),
--- Speaker: Fire HD 10 (Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers) vs. Fire 7 (Mono speaker)
--- Camera: Fire HD 10 (0.3 MP front-facing and 2 MP rear-facing camera) vs. Fire 7 (2 MP front-facing and rear-facing camera)
--- Weight: Fire HD 10 (23.3 oz, 660 g) vs. Fire 7 (16.1 oz, 456 g)
--- Internal Storage: Fire HD 10 (32 GB) vs. Fire 7 (16 GB)
--- Expandable Storage: Fire HD 10 (expandable by to 256 GB) vs. Fire 7 (expandable by up to 512 GB).
--- Colors: Fire HD 10 (Yellow cover option) vs.. Fire 7 (Black, Twilight Blue, Plum, Sage)
--- Cost: Fire HD 10 (32 GB - $149.99; 32 GB - $189.99) vs. Fire 7 (16 GB - $49.99; 32 GB - $69.99)
--- Multi-touch: Fire HD 10 (10-point) vs. Fire 7 (5-point)
** If you are considering buying the Fire HD 10 KE, I would wait on it as there is a high probability that this model will be refreshed this year as the last update was in 2017 (Amazon seems to follow a 2-year refresh cycle though this is not always the case).
- Some useful features on Fire KE Tablets (not a comprehensive list). Please note that parental controls can be used to block all of the below-listed features.
--- Accessibility: “VoiceView and Screen Magnifier enable access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features. VoiceView features text-to-speech voice. Fire OS 5 also includes system-wide closed caption settings, adjustable font sizes up to 50% larger, and a variety of book reading text adjustments such as adjustable colors and text spacing. Also includes adjustable font sizes/color, and built-in Oxford dictionary.”
--- Surfing the web using Amazon’s web browser - Silk
--- Watching movies, TV shows, and listening to music --- Ability to read Kindle books.
--- Ability to read the news using Washington Times
--- Other apps (games, educational tools, etc. available in Amazon’s app store) plus several prominent apps included like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
--- Ability to get set-up email apps, calendar, etc.
--- Ability to play games that can be downloaded from the app store.
* Basically, this can function as both an adult and a kid’s tablet (older kids or adults can use it by disabling FreeTime).
- Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
--- Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is a subscription that offers over “20,000 books, movies, TV shows, apps and games for kids 3-12. Age Filters ensure kids see age-appropriate content. Parents can add content to kids' profiles to give them more access to apps and games.” “In FreeTime, kids do not have access to social media or Alexa. In-app purchases require parent approval. Parents can exit FreeTime using a passcode.” Another unique feature is Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited in Spanish! Hopefully, there will be even more language options in the future to help bilingual or multilingual families and also to help those who wish to learn additional languages.
--- Parents also have the option “to set educational goals and curfews, and manage content for up to 4 child profiles with easy-to-use parental controls.” This is really not as intuitive as it should be and can be frustrating to use. I have docked down a star as this has yet to be comprehensively developed.
--- Generally speaking - FreeTime Unlimited offers an unbeatable value – I mean where else on earth can you get kid-friendly and generally holistic content for $2.99/month (after the 1-year subscription expires). Additionally, kids can’t make any additional purchases without parental authorization so it protects parents from liabilities.
*FreeTime unlimited has several nifty features that I cannot cover because of space limitations but it is pretty intuitive and outstanding. Amazon has done an outstanding job in this process. Parents have a lot of flexibility in choosing and curating content for children, permitting downloads, and even setting the tablet to turn-off after a preset amount of use or at a set time and turn on at a set time. This is a great feature, so you don’t have to constantly follow your kid saying – “you have 5 more minutes before to turn the tablet off.” The automatic turn-off absolves parents from this responsibility, avoids a potential meltdown, and teaches kids to be time conscious.
Wi-Fi: I was able to connect to the Wi-Fi network without any technical difficulties. The process was pretty straightforward.
- Saving money on purchasing the Fire Tablet Kids Edition
--- The cost for the 16 GB Fire 7 will be $99.99.
--- Customers should also know that they can easily trade-in their prior Fire tablet for Amazon gift cards (for $5-$25 depending on version and condition), which also entitles them to receive an additional 25% discount towards their new Fire.
--- My recommendation would be to purchase this item during a sale event (for instance, Amazon Prime day is coming up in July). The customer can get this tablet for around $20 off during Prime day (based on prior sales analysis), and then stack the trade-in price and the 25% discount to get this item for a minimal cost (maybe you can snag it for $20 in total or lesser if everything is applied correctly). However, one thing to keep in mind is that Amazon might decide to remove the trade-in gift card and 25% discount at any point.
--- Sometimes Amazon provides bundle sales on products (get 2 or 3 items for a substantial discount). This is something for consumers to consider.
To sum up my review, this is the basic Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet. No bells and whistles, but it does the job. Limitations include sound quality, volume quality, potential issues with MicroSDXC Card access, parental controls related limitations, and a basic app store. Updates worth noting in this version include a slight decrease in weight, increase in storage (internal and external), slightly faster processor, slightly improved cameras, and slight decrease in battery life (though this might be a more accurate representation of the life of the battery). The bottom line is that if you are looking to get a super affordable Kids tablet that is well-rated, small, lightweight, and has access to several education apps, games, etc. then the Fire 7 KE tablet is the way to go.
- UPDATE # 1 and # 6: June 11, 2019 & June 21, 2019: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition + Echo Dot Kid Edition (release date June 26, 2019)
I recommend the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet (mid-tier model) as opposed to this Fire 7 KE (the model reviewed) for a few more dollars ($30 more). This can be purchased after following the cost-saving suggestions previously listed. My reasons are several and include: the 8 inch screen (as compared to 7 inches), higher resolution (189 PPI vs. 171 PPI), increased RAM (1.5 GB RAM vs. 1 GB RAM), battery life (10 hours vs. 7 hours), and the Dolby Atmos, dual stereo speakers (which can make a world of difference while watching or listening to something). I would personally get this tried and true model especially in light of Update # 3 (below).
--- Amazon recently offered a bundle sale to purchase both the Fire Kids Edition Tablet and Echo Dot Kids Edition (colors can be chosen). Fire 7 KE + Echo Dot KE: $129.98; Fire 8 HD KE + Echo Dot KE: $139.98; and Fire 10 HD KE + Echo Dot KE:$199.98. I recommend the Fire 8 HD KE + Echo Dot KE for $139.98. One FreeTime Unlimited subscription can function across multiple devices and the best way to maximize it is in my opinion to get both these devices. I will soon post a comprehensive review on the Echo Dot Kids Edition once the device becomes available, but cannot cover it here because I have exceeded Amazon’s review space limitations.
- UPDATE # 2 (June 12, 2019): FreeTime Unlimited
--- The age-specific apps/books/games on this device are not always age appropriate. Consequently, parents need to review every thing prior to letting children get these resources. These apps play a critical role in the formation of the child especially with screen time usage increasing at astounding rates (especially among children).
--- This brings me to my second point of concern – screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 18 months have no screen time with the exception of video-chatting while children 2-5 years should have no more than 1-hour per day of screen time (only high-quality programs) with parents co-viewing these videos with the child (parental interaction is key for formation of language skills and holistic development. Just watching educational videos is insufficient – kids learn by back and forth interaction with adults). They have additional guidelines for children 6 and older, which includes monitoring the child’s media usage, providing strict guidelines for use of media, etc. I would strongly encourage parents to review this information prior to purchasing this media device.
- UPDATE # 3: June 13, 2019: Battery Life
Some customers have complained about the low and unpredictable battery life for this new device. I did experience occasional fluctuations in battery life (nothing major) and so am docking down half a star. So, please bear this in mind when making the purchase.
UPDATE # 4 & # 5: June 14, 2019 & June 19, 2019: Toys Story Headphone
*Customers that preordered the item were supposed to get a free Toys Story headphone ($25 value). However, I never received it. I purchased this item in spite of the sound quality and low volume issues because of the free headphones. However, since I didn’t receive the headphones, I am docking down a star because the cost of getting a good-quality kid headphone ($24.99) added to the cost of the Fire 7 ($99.99) is equivalent ($124.98) to getting the better sound quality and volume Fire 8 KE ($129.99) with no headphones required and several other features. Amazon did contact me about this issue and asked how they could remedy the issue. They offered me $ 25 credit (headphone value) or a free headphone which I am grateful for. However, I still docked half a star because Amazon would not have contacted me if it was not for my review.
Please also note that several resources were used in the compilation of this review, but most of this review was based on my personal testing of the product.
Whenever I make any purchase, I try to do a thorough and accurate job with the review. My reviews are my honest and comprehensive assessment of the product. I always post future updates and corrections based on new information if deemed necessary. Additionally, I always include photos of products to verify both that I purchased this product and to back up appropriate claims in the review.