One of the hot topics in the Facebook family forums is always what tablet to buy to share with the kids. The specific children’s tablets are great, but at three and a half I feel like my boys would have benefited from one of those a year ago. I think that buying one now could be a waste of money because they’d probably outgrow it within a year. When it came to their birthday and Christmas last year there were other things we wanted to buy them, so at the time we made a decision to wait and get a real tablet computer that was suitable for us all to share when they were a little older.
Husband and I are a bit traditional. We like the idea of our boys playing on bikes and using train sets rather than using technology at this age, but it’s a fact that they’re going to be more technically advanced than us in just a few short years. They already use a tablet at pre-school, and they look at my laptop like it’s a prehistoric artifact – they can’t fathom out the mouse and constantly try to tap the screen. When I was asked to review the Lenovo tablet I jumped at the chance as it saved me hours researching which one to buy, as the time is definitely right for them to have one now.
What we thought…
With a 9 inch screen, it’s small enough to slip into my handbag. The screen is great – it’s larger than the 7 inch Nexus/Kindle Fire devices yet smaller than an iPad. I like that it’s weighty; it’s not overly heavy but it feels strong and sturdy which I think will come in handy as I’m sure it’ll get little knocks and bumps as my boys are playing with it. It’s not something I’d use for reading one-handed due to the weight, but that’s OK because that’s not what I wanted it for anyway – it’s really all about browsing the net and using the apps and for that it’s perfectly comfortable.
It looks stylish, with its silver case and curved edges, and I’m sure it’ll clean up nicely after being handled by sticky fingers. The case is very smooth, so I need to invest in a case which will make it easier to grip for small hands.
The buttons are easy to access on the sides, without being too prominent (otherwise the kids would keep pressing them!), and I really like the lock switch which allows you to lock the screen easily instead of having to hunt for it in the settings which I usually have to do with my other devices.
As it has an Android operating system, it comes with the Google Play Store, which I know from my phone is really easy to use and is jam-packed full of every app you could ever want or need. It has 16GB of storage, and unlike some of the other small tablets on the market, it has a hidden micro SD card slot which is a really useful feature. It’s a bit tricky to access, but then with kids using it that’s actually quite useful as it stops them from messing with the card and pulling it out to post down the floorboards (I wouldn’t put it past them as we’ve lost so much stuff down our floorboards!)
For me, it has useful features like Skype and DocumentsToGo, which allows me to view Office docs and it can connect to my Google docs folder. The keyboard is really easy to use as the screen size is pretty big, so I can blog on the go and Tweet to my heart’s content. It has front and rear facing cameras, although to be honest we haven’t really used these yet.
It has a great battery life (up to eight hours) which is really important as the last thing I need is for it to die while I’m relying on it to entertain the kids for a few minutes while I make a work phone call or something. That said, although it’s a useful distraction to keep them entertained for a few minutes, we really use it under supervision for its educational value . There are endless pre-school apps that we can explore to help with their speech, numbers and literacy and I’m really looking forward to discovering more of them.
It’s a WiFi enabled tablet, which means I can only get online when I’m in a Wifi zone. This suits me fine as I tend to use it at home most of the time or in a coffee shop where there is usually WiFi anyway so it’s not a big problem. If I do find I want to go online when I’m out and about I can tether it to my Android smart phone. You can find some useful info about tethering here.
It’s proving to be ‘tough and durable’ just like it promises and it’s great value at £149.99 from PC World, so it’s not going to break the bank (unless you have twins and have to buy a pair of them!) There is no way I’d invest in an expensive tablet for my kids at this age as I’d be too frightened to let them loose on it, but I think this is both solid and reasonably cheap enough not to be too worried about them handling it. I suspect I’ll soon have to buy a second one as sharing one between them is proving a bit tricky, although it is teaching them sharing skills!
* For the purpose of this review I was provided with a Lenovo tablet to review and keep. All views are my own personal opinions.