This past Christmas we became a mixed household. Mixed that is, in terms of having both Apple and non Apple hand held devices or tablets being used by members of my family. I had often said that after collecting close to 1,000 apps (thanks to sites like Freeappalert , Moms with Apps and Technology in Special Education ) our family was stuck being a Apple family from here on out. However, after owning the iPad for a whole year, I realized the only things I was using it for was to read books, check email and facebook, listen to music and surf the web. Since all five members seemed to be competing to get a little iPad time, I thought it would be a nice Christmas gift to add another device to our household.
After doing a little research I decided to purchase a Kindle Fire to give to my husband, since he getting the short end of the stick when it came to iPad time. I went with the Kindle Fire, because it was less expensive, smaller and more portable, and it looked like it could do all the things that we needed.
He was surprised and I think a little excited about it. It took a bit of time to set it up but once we did, it was working OK. The first thing we noticed about it, was that it was a little bit slower than the iPad. Not a big deal if you never had an iPad, but harder to deal with when you were used to speed.
The second let down was that one of our family's favorite games is not available for this device. It is a game that could be played on Facebook, but most of the browsers would not support the game and Kindle Fires don't have flash. Fortunately Randy was able to search and try out lots of different browsers to find out which ones would work to allow him to play his favorite game. Unfortunately the game is still pretty slow, and it is hard to get a good score then things are running slowly.
The Kindle Fire works great for reading and music. Browsing is OK, and it has Temple Run so as far as Ben is concerned, it works just fine! There are some educational apps available, but the variety and quality of Apps in Amazon don't even come close to those available through iTunes.
Ben showing Noah's basketball team his sweet Temple Run skills.(iPad)
So if you have never used a tablet and price is an issue, the Kindle Fire can be a great alternative, because you probably won't be bothered by the speed or know what you are missing when you see all the great apps that are available for the Kindle Fire. But if price is not a limitation, I would recommend the iPad (2, 3, or Mini) hands down. The speed and number of apps that are specifically made for individuals with special needs are worth the extra money, in my mind. Size is another issue. We only got the 16 GB and I really wished I had gotten one with more space. I am constantly having to delete apps off our iPad due to space constrictions, and that does get to be a pain (especially when I delete one off and then need it the very next day and have to put it back on). I did spend the extra money to get a bigger Kindle Fire, and it has worked out great. So consider spending a little extra for a 32 or 64gb, if you can.
Finally, the one thing I recommend everyone do when buying a tablet or hand held device, no matter the kind, is to get a good sturdy case. We are on our second Griffin Survivor case and I know the case has saved the iPad on many occasions. It looks like this
If you are still not convinced that a case is necessary, here is a story that might convince you. Noah bought an iPod Touch with his Christmas money. I told him not to take it out of the house until he had a case to protect it. Since he spent all he had on the iPod, he had to earn more money and ordered a case on-line. However, like most 10 year olds who have a really cool electronic device, he decided that listening to his Mom was optional. He took his iPod on a trip to town and left it in the truck one snowy day. He and his older brother went out to get it, and a snowball fight occurred on the way back from the truck. In an effort to get away, after squarely landing a perfect snowball to the face of his older and much bigger brother, Noah took off running and dropped his unprotected iPod Touch in the snow. He knew it fell out, but did not stop to pick it up. However when you don't stop right away, it is harder to find a white iPod in the snow, and when John and Noah had made up and were forced persuaded to go out and search for it, it got stepped on and the screen cracked. The best part is that the case he ordered, showed up in the mail the next day. Hopefully Noah learned an important lesson from the whole situation, but the kid is still the luckiest person I know. After a couple days in rice, and being put in the case, the iPod works fine. I think it's overall life expectancy has been severely diminished, but for now, it is still going strong. So regardless of which device you get, a protective case is a great idea.