With so many tablets available in the market it can be difficult to choose the one that’s right for you and your programs. However, with an understanding of the early childhood setting, you can focus in on the requirements that are most important in this environment.
The three most important considerations for a tablet operated by early childhood educators are size, battery life and camera specifications. The operating system of the device and price are other key factors that should inform your decision.
When it comes to the size of the tablet, you should prioritize portability over increased screen real estate. Larger tablets are better suited for watching movies and playing games, whereas smaller tablets will be lighter and easier to carry around. One thing I personally like about the smaller tablets is that you can type using your thumbs, similar to a smartphone. A small tablet screen is typically considered to be in the range of 7 to 8.5 inches.
Battery life is another important factor for the early childhood setting. If you’re using a solution like HiMama you’ll likely have your tablet on for most of the day and so will want to get a tablet that has at least 8 hours of active use battery life.
As you are likely to be taking a lot of photo and video observations of your children’s activities and learning, the camera specifications of the tablet are essential. You’ll want to make sure that there is a rear camera, as this does not come standard on all tablets. If you want print quality pictures, target a 4MP or higher rear facing camera.
You’ll want to get at least 1GB RAM and if you’re using a solution like HiMama that stores all of your data in the cloud you won’t need much storage, so 16GB is sufficient. Of course, you’ll also want to get a reasonable quality case as the kids are sure to want to play with the tablet from time to time!
A final, but meaningful consideration is the operating system of the tablet. The three major operating systems are iOS, Android and Windows, in addition to Amazon’s Fire OS and BlackBerry Tablet OS. We recommend iOS and Android, where Apple’s iOS is simple and has a user-friendly interface and Android, while also user-friendly, has more advanced features and customizability. The Windows operating system has a bit more of a learning curve.
The less you want to spend on a tablet, the more you’ll want to watch out for the specifications I’ve suggested to confirm that they’re met. I do not recommend spending less than $125, as you are likely to experience malfunctions or performance issues, especially with the battery. While there are many great tablets on the market we recommend the following tablets that get good reviews from both consumers and technology experts: ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 (from $149), Google Nexus 7 (from $229), and Apple iPad mini (from $299).
We are also eagerly anticipating reviews of the recently announced Lenovo A-series Android tablets that are expected to begin shipping in May this year, selling for $129 (A7-50), $179 (A8) and $249 (A10), respectively. These tablets from an established company should only further fuel the trend of affordable, quality tablets.