Tablets for children is not a new concept, and this is a busier market that one may expect. That said, in most cases, those tablets are extremely limited when it comes to processing power, and therefore application accessibility. It’s fair to say that having a fast tablet enables running more interactive applications, but at the same time, many parents don’t want to give a $499 to young kids who may damage it.
And that’s the type of situation that Nabi 2 has been designed to solve. At first sight, you can tell that this tablet comes with some padding that would protect it from life accidents. However, what you may not expect is to find a Tegra 3 processor inside, which is the same chip that powers some of the newest high-profile smartphones. This means that Nabi 2 can run the most demanding applications, including games and HD content – and that’s a game changer in the “Kids computing” market.
7” 1024×600 capacitive display
NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor
1GB of RAM
8GB of internal flash storage + empty MicroSD slot
2 Megapixel main camera, 720p recording
3850mAh battery capacity
Micro USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3.5mm audio out
WiFi B/G/N + Bluetooth 3.0
As I said earlier, the case design offers plenty of protection, thanks to the removable red plastic case (which is “food safe” says the manufacturer, that’s in case kids decide to chew on it). It is quite soft, so it is easy to put on and remove. I’m assuming that most parents would leave it on if they have young children who have not been educated on how to take care of a tablet. The screen is the only fragile part left exposed.
On the back, those strange little squares are used to attach all kinds of accessories on them. I did wonder why there was 15 of them, but they make it possible to attach letters and other small accessories, as can be used to attach the unit onto a car mount, or something like that. The possibilities are quite large.
Pretty much all the physical controls are at the top of the device, while the ports are on the right side. I’m not sure why there is a need to charge with a separate DC5V when there is a 5V, 0.5MA microUSB port present. MicroUSB should largely be enough to do this.
Also, there is no back camera. Instead, this design features only a front camera. The usage model is skype of course, but we will get back to that later in the article.
Games: with a Tegra 3 chip inside, gaming is not a problem at all. We tried Riptide GP, with which we are very familiar, but the point in all that is that developers can now target highly interactive and computationally expensive apps for kids. The question is: will they do it? As for actual games, Angry Birds, Burn the Rope and Fruit Ninja come pre-loaded along with many more titles.
Camera: The regular Android camera app is pre-loaded, so there’s nothing new here.
Drums: Drumsets are obviously fun , but they are also crazy noisy. The “App” version brings a solution: kids can now play with a virtual drumset and if it comes down to it, you could even use headsets to mute it for the rest of the house (be careful with hearing hazards…). It’s not as cool as a real set, but keeping the parent’s sanity is a nice feature too.
Cartoons: There’s a TV app called Spinlets+TV that streams cartoons over the Internet. I don’t really know what cartoons are cool these days, but browsing around, I saw things like Action Man, the Littles, Sonic, Sherlock Holmes and a few more. The selection in there is not extensive, so you may want to take a closer look into their library.
Learning: I fired up a few apps, like Math, which has a user interface that has the same “look and feel” as Angry Birds. Each “Topic” is similar to a “Game Level” and the user has to pass a test in order to unlock the next one. Strangely enough that particular app wasn’t as responsive as I would expect it to be. I had to tap several times and the lag between tap and response could be as long as one second.
Some of the learning games also assume that the kid can read questions that can be as detailed as “If you know your position and reference directions to where you want to go, then you can: 1/get lost 2/go elsewhere 3/ get where you want to go 4/ know your location”. (second grade level)
Those games typically have questions for children from Kindergarten to 5th grade. I’m not going to describe all the games, but you should take a closer look if you’re thinking of picking up the Nabi 2 for your kid(s).
The tablet also has features for parents, the most important of which is parental control. Android can be setup to be lax when it comes to app security, but with the Nabi 2, things are under tight control. The web browser is also restricted, and populated with a list of shortcuts. The browser control is more restrictive than I thought, and it seems to be based on a whitelist, which means that you would need to approve each site before it can be accessed. For instance, Ubergizmo and CNN are not accessible by default
Parents can also get progress reports from the data gathered from the learning games. This is pretty cool and makes complete sense when learning is done electronically.
Finally, the music app features more than tracks for kids and parents can also find something that suits their needs when the kids aren’t playing with the tablet – if that ever happens. It’s a nice to have and while you may not actually use it often, the option of being able to do so is nice.
Skype: Skype is only accessible in “daddy” or “mommy” mode. This means that kids can’t initiate calls without parental consent. Although it prevents kids from receiving unsolicited messages from strangers etc, the idea is also that children don’t call the Skype contacts at random times during the day… and night.
The Nabi 2 tablet is the most powerful tablets for kids that we know of. It is quite unique in a market that is littered with “junk” tablets or pads that don’t come with any real computing power – power that opens the doors to more interactive experiences.
Nabi 2 is not a tablet that you give to kids so that they can imitate parents who have “real” tablets. This is a real tablet that kids can use to play, and learn in a meaningful way. Its pricing of $199 makes it one of the more expensive ones, but I guess that you simply get what you are paying for. There are plenty of alternatives obviously, such as the Kindle Fire and similar devices, but they are not tailored for kids.