Amazon sales some decent little tablets called the Amazon Fire 7", add one of there decent kids cases and the tablet is great for letting the kids use for a ereader, comics, games, notes, Zork, and many other tasks that a normal Android compatible touch screen devices can do. All for the grand total of $50 for the android device, and $20 for the case. So around $70 you have unit that is perfect for kids.
Now with this unit there is a couple of small gotcha; by default it comes with a silly advertising screen saver and it is tied completely to the Amazon eco-system. For those who aren't interested in Advertising there is two options; one you can pay Amazon $15 to eliminate the advertising, or you can remove it yourself. Now many of you know me; So I'm sure you can guess which way I did it. 🙂
The second issue is that it only has a 3 month warranty; they DO sell a "kids" version for $99 that comes with the case, removal of the ads and a two year warranty. So the cost difference between the two is negligible if you want a two year warranty, this is your better bet and you don't have to do anything to eliminate the ads as it comes already without ads.
This device is not a bad little tablet; and my kids fight sometimes over who gets which one of the them that we have.
Now on to why most of you are probably viewing this blog post; I prefer to have full control over any device that enters my house. So guess what my choice was. Yep, I eliminated the ads and "root"ed the device. If that sounds scary; it really isn't. You just do a couple steps; install some software and boom your done and have a fully open Android tablet. Please note this can void your warranty and you have a chance you can mess up your device. No warranty is provided and I don't provide free tech support. 😉 Please note this only works on Amazon Kindle fire 5.3.1 and lower, if you are running 5.3.2; you need to downgrade to 5.3.1 before doing this. There are videos to help you do this.
Please note; by doing this you might eliminate the ability for Amazon's Alexa, freeplace, prime videos, kindle free books from working. I do have a prime account; but I don't have anything on Amazon I want the kids to have "easy" access too; so I honestly haven't tried any of the prime services on my fire's. I'm pretty sure the Kindle e-reader app continues to work fine; but no guarantees. I don't believe my fire's are babysitters, so no video access is given to them. If they want to be entertained they can read a book. 😉
First things first; you need the tools. You need to download the link on here:
The file is currently called AmazonFire5thGenSuperTool.zip and it is around 152MB's
After you download it and extract it to a folder; you need to install the ADB drivers; the best tutorial I've seen if you like video's is the author of this tool; "Root Junky" video tutorials which you can watch on http://www.rootjunky.com/amazon-fire-5th-gen-supertool/
If you prefer text and pictures http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/install-google-play-remove-lockscreen-ads-amazon-fire-tablet-without-root/
Now I'm not going to repeat those tutorials; The things I did to make everything work was option 1. ADB Driver Install, then 2. Install Google Play and remove ads from Lock Screen, then 7. Root your Amazon Fire fifth gen, and finally 8. Replace Amazon Fire Launcher with Nova Laucher.
1. ADB Driver Install -- This is required so that the software on your computer can talk to the Amazon Fire, so this has to be done FIRST, and must be working, for everything else to work. This can be tricky depending on the OS; if you are using Windows 8 or 10; you have to disable driver signing; which you can see how to do in the Text and pictures link.
2. Install Google Play / Remove ads -- well I don't like ads, and I want Google play to be able to install other things, that I mention below.
7. Root your amazon fire; this is if you want to be able to control things; I happen to like putting a firewall on my devices. This allows me to block all applications from connecting to the internet and dialing home and/or pulling down ads inside of them. This is not needed; but I personally prefer it. The firewall I use is called "AFWall+" and can be got for free on the Google Play store. (But you must be rooted to use it). There are a couple other tools I use on my devices that require root; but I'm a developer so they probably won't interest you. 😉
8. Replace the Amazon Fire launcher with Nova Launcher. Nova Launcher is a pretty good default launcher; if you like the Amazon launcher; then no need to do this. But I don't and I find it very limiting and it is very much tied to the Amazon eco-system. So I install Nova Launcher; then I installed another app called "Kids Place" this allows you to setup a simple to use Launcher for the kids; where I can pick the apps they can run, when they are allowed to be ran and other "kid" friendly items. This "Kids" place runs in its own sandbox and limits the kids to pretty much only the apps you allow it. It has some "holes" that my crafty kids have discovered, but the holes are pretty minor and don't cause any real issues since the firewall blocks access from any app that I've decided doesn't need internet access.
I tend to disable the internet on the tablet, pre-install a ton of books, apps, comics and other items. I have also purchased a License for Moon Reader (My favorite e-reader app), and Aldiko Premium. And so I install these along with FBReader on all my Fire's so that the kids can choose which e-reader they like. In addition I typically install a couple learning games (for the non-readers), drawing, and even a comic book reader; as everyone loves comics.
If you want to allow your kids access to the internet from the device; I would install the Brave browser as it has built in ability to eliminate ads and tracking which is what you want for your kids. The other thing you might consider is changing the DNS to use a family/kid friendly provider. You can do it on the device; or if you have a smart router; you can tell your router to server a kid friendly dns to a specific device. OpenDNS & Norton both provide free kid friendly dns servers.
None of this is totally bulletproof and you still have to be a parent; but it does make my life a lot easier and I have no concerns about any of the kids taking any of the fires in their rooms and using them.