Get an iPad or Nintendo 3DS for Kids?

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Kids want a tablet or an iPad and you are thinking that getting them a Nintendo 3DS or the cheaper Nintendo DSi will save money because it is $300 cheaper right now?  Think again!

Logically you would think the $499 iPad price tag vs the $169 price tag of the Nintendo 3DS would make this a clear winner, I mean let’s face it right the 3DS is so much cheaper and plays games and should suffice.

But I am going to tell you that cartridge games add up and add up quick.

Even on and with discounts newer 3DS games cost over $35 bucks a pop, New Super Mario Bros DS is $46.99.  If you buy your kid 12 DS games per year, you are looking at spending $420 in Nintendo DS games over 12 months or more ($35 x 12).  This puts the total cost of ownership for Nintendo 3DS console + 12 games at $589 at the end of the first  year.

Compare this with an iPad 2 where you can get hundreds of games for free, and many games are just .99 – $5 for very good quality games plus the iPad 2 has so many more apps and capabilities to help kids grow and learn.  There are 10x as many preschool and learning apps, movies, reading books…etc that there is just no comparison to the Nintendo DS in any way.

The iPad 2 also servers as a portable DVD player in the car or airplanes, as well as 2 people can play games on it at the same time in a turn based situation like Chess, Battleship, Scrabble….etc.

Put the same cost to 2 years and you add another $420 on DS games bringing total cost of ownership to $1009 dollars for the Nintendo 3DS vs let’s say you bought 20 iPad games at $2 each which would bring iPad ownership to $540.

Before you balk about the price difference between an iPad 2 and a Nintendo 3DS when deciding to get a handheld system for your kids this Christmas you may want to consider the games and long term ownership costs and other benefits.  Simply put I believe tablets give children an investment in more than just a gaming console and even my 5 year old uses my iPad 2 at least 1x per day for a little bit even if it’s just to watch a Toy Story 3 book read to him (though he plays the Smurfs game often too which involves mixing potions, farming resources…etc).

Though Android tablets can be a little cheaper than the iPad 2 we bought a Coby Android 2.2 tablet for $119 and it just was so poor quality, touch screen sticky and the app selection so minimal that it just couldn’t compare and once you test an iPad you can’t use one of the cheaper Android tablets.  Meanwhile some of the good Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1 can be more than the cheapest iPad 2 model and still lack the diversity and quality in titles that are found in the App store.

The only consideration when buying a tablet for younger kids is responsibility and making sure you get a really strong protective covering to protect against accidental drops.  A screen liner isn’t a bad idea either to protect the screen from dirty fingers.

-Justin Germino

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Updated: September 25, 2011 — 5:27 pm