19
Jun
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If you read this site, there's a good chance that you consider yourself a geek on one level or another. If you're also a parent, you undoubtedly want to share your geekdom with your children. Sometimes this means sharing your digital devices with the little one(s), which is something that I don't normally condone (it's just a disaster waiting to happen, in my opinion). But what if you could give your children a tablet of their own? And I'm not talking about some knock-off Leapfrog "tablet," either; I'm talking about a real Android tablet, designed just for children.

That's exactly what the Nabi 2 is: an Android 4.0 tablet designed with kids in mind. It helps them learn new skills and responsibility, as well as improve elementary skills like math, reading, English, and more. It's not all business, though; with the Tegra 3 processor, this little tablet can bring the fun, too.

I've spent the last week or so playing with this little device, so let's take a closer look at everything is has to offer (and what it doesn't).

Details

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Specs

  • Display: 7" 1024x600
  • Processor: 1.3Ghz quad-core Tegra 3
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB, microSD card slot
  • Camera: 2MP front-facing camera with 720p video capture
  • Ports: microUSB, miniHDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • OS: Android 4.0.4
  • Dimensions: 6.05" x 8.69" x 1.14" (with bumper case); 1.31 pounds
  • Price: $199
  • Age Range - The Nabi 2 caters to age groups from Pre-K to around fifth grade, but certain aspects go a bit above that range.
  • Availability: Mid-July

The Good

  • NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. This tablet may be for children, but that doesn't stop it from rocking one of the most powerful mobile chips on the planet. Make no mistake, either, this isn't some underclocked, watered-down version of the Tegra 3 - it's the real deal.
  • Kid-friendly UI and Apps. Since this tablet is designed for kids, it only makes sense that the UI also be appropriately designed. The Nobi 2 features a sandboxed UI called Monarch OS that keeps kids away from the bulk of the OS, as well as inappropriate content on the internet. Within Monarch you'll find a plethora apps designed just for children, and, surprisingly, most of them are not only well-made, but seem to be extremely well thought out. 
  • Parent Mode. The Nabi 2 also features a special mode called "Mommy/Daddy Mode" that essentially disables the "Kidz Mode" and opens up the full UI for adult use. Not that you're going this tablet for business purposes or out in public, but it's nice to see that Fuhu catered to the adults as well as the children.
  • Protective bumper. Let's face it, if you're going to get a tablet for your child, then you have to be prepared for drops, tosses, and whatever else a youngster will think of to do with it (aside from actually using it). Fortunately, the Nobi 2 ships with a thick ruberized bumper that should protect the device pretty well. One of the cooler things about the case is that it's made from food-grade silicone, so it's completely safe if your little one decides to use it as a teether. That's good design.

The Bad

  • No Google Apps. Unfortunately, the Nabi 2 doesn't ship with Google apps, so you won't have access to Gmail or the Play Store. This isn't such a bad thing if you're only getting this for a young child, but if you plan on sharing it, you'll feel the effects almost immediately.
  • Less than stellar battery life. The battery life isn't necessarily awful on the Nabi 2, but I would liked to have seen a few more hours of use out of the unit.
  • Great for kids, not so much for parents. There's no denying that the "Kidz Mode" interface is absolutely fantastic for kids. However, when switching into Parent Mode, the experience is less than ideal. Since this tablet is mainly designed for children, the only reason I mention it is because many families may not have the money to buy a tablet for themselves and their children, so they're looking for a solution that both can use.
  • No way to check the battery percentage in Kidz Mode. Since the notification area is disabled in Kidz Mode, the only way to gauge the battery is by looking at the icon. That may not bother some people, but I simply can't stand not knowing how much battery is left.
  • "Kids" is purposefully misspelled. This actually peeves me a lot more than it should, but I feel like a device designed to help children learn should keep that idea in mind throughout every aspect of the UI. The fact that the kid-specific interface is called "Kidz Mode" just doesn't sit well with me, as it could possibly confuse children learning to read and write. I feel like that is counter-productive to the entire idea behind this device, not to mention that spelling things with a "Z" instead of an "S" is neither cute nor clever. It's annoying. Looks like I'm not the only one who was troubled by this, as I've just spoken with Fuhu and was informed that Kidz Mode is now called "Nabi Mode." Strike one more con off the list!

Build Quality, Design, and Feel

As soon as you open the box (which has a nifty little design itself), you're greeted by a small-ish device with a bright red, rubberized exterior. When I first picked it up out of the box, I was actually surprised at how light it is - judging by appearance, I was expecting it to be somewhat heavy. I'm glad that it's pretty light, because that will make it even easier for small children to hold on to it. Speaking of, the red bumper case that surrounds the device not only adds some extra grip to the device and keeps the device safe in case of a drop, but it's made from food-grade silicone, making it safe for the little ones to chew on. I commend Fuhu for such a wise material decision, and I'm sure all the parents out there with young children who may decide to munch on the casing appreciate this choice, as well. The bumper case is also removable, so if it gets dirty (or you don't like it for whatever reason), you can pop it right off.

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On the top of the device, you'll find the volume rocker and power button. All of the available ports are housed on the right side: charging adapter, microSD card slot, microUSB, miniHDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; the microphone is the only thing located on the bottom, and the left side is void of anything. On the back of the device above the speakers, there's a unique set of slotted protrusions for use with Fuhu proprietary accessories that will enable parents to customize the Nabi 2 with add-ons, including letters and numbers, various fictional characters, and even utilitarian accessories like a headrest mount (all of which will be available at launch). The device only has one camera: a 2MP front-facer. Since it's lacking Google Apps, Skype comes pre-installed for all of your video chatting needs. The front of the device also features a nice little battery icon that lights up whilst the device is charging, so it's easy to tell when it's full with a quick glance.

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All of the buttons are very easy to push and have a very satisfying "snap" when pressed - with or without the bumper case - so your little one shouldn't have any issues powering the device on or changing the volume.

With the bumper case removed, the Nabi 2 is actually a pretty neat looking device. It's solid white (aside from the bezel) with small non-fucntional red buttons displaying the Nabi logo in each corner.

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The overall feel is good - it may be made with children in mind, but it doesn't feel like a child's device.

Display and Touchscreen

It's safe to say that most users would expect an awful display on a $199 device designed for kids. In fact, the display isn't that bad. It's not the best I've ever seen (far from it), but it's definitely not the worst, either.

The colors are actually quite vibrant on this display; whites looks white, and dark colors look dark. It's well balanced. Of course, there are drawbacks since this is a low-cost device, and in this case, it's viewing angles. The horizontal angles are much better than the vertical angles, which are still more tolerable than some of the other 7" displays that I've seen, but it's still not ideal. Given the fact that your child will likely be using this device far more often than you will, though, I don't see this as a deal breaker by any standard.

Unfortunately, the Nabi 2 doesn't feature any sort of reinforced glass on the display (like Gorilla Glass), so it could scratch/break/shatter easier than one would hope, given its child-friendly nature. However, the bumper case does a good job of protecting the entire device, and I feel like it would protect the display rather well in the event of a drop, even if the device landed screen-down (though this theory isn't something that I'm willing to test on a review unit).

The touch sensitivity of the Nabi 2 is actually very impressive. The touchscreen is extremely responsive (even with the slightest touch from the smallest fingers), yet highly accurate. Throughout the entire duration of time that I had the Nabi 2, I had absolutely no issues with the touchscreen; reactions are sharp and typing on the device is highly accurate (though it doesn't have haptic feedback). It was actually a surprisingly pleasurable experience.

Performance, Use, and Battery Life

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This is probably the most surprising aspect of the Nabi 2 tablet: it's a powerhouse. The Tegra 3 chip makes this tablet absolutely zoom; I haven't experienced a single bit of lag since cracking open the box. Everything is fluid on this device, be it scrolling through apps, browsing the web, or even playing games. When it comes to games, the Nabi 2 even comes pre-loaded with some Tegra 3-specific titles, like Riptide GP, Jett Tailfin, and Big Top THD, complete with enhanced graphics.

By default, Kidz Mode is laid out something like this: entertainment apps and the Chore List are on the first page, Fooz Kids apps on the second (more info on each of those later), Tegra games on the third, and everything else follows thereafter. Here's the issue that I found: my children skipped past the first two pages of kid-friendly educational apps and went directly to page three, four, five, and so on looking for games. Unless you edit the Monarch OS desktop to only include the educational apps, your children may never play them (unless you force them too, of course). I would like to think that my kids would want to learn, but at some point I have to be a realistic parent and know that they'll always want to play before they learn. If you remove the super-playful apps from the equation (like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, etc.), it will make things a lot easier; I kind of wish that Fuhu would've set the Nabi 2 up this way by default, and then allowed parents to add to the list. It's a trivial complaint, but one that I felt was worth mentioning; at the end of the day, after all, we want our kids to both learn and have fun with this fantastic technology. I just wish they wanted to do it in that order. But that's more of a flaw in human nature, not in the tablet's design.

Despite the fact that the Tegra 3 chip has superior battery management, this is one area where the Nabi 2 tablet definitely falls short. With moderate usage (playing a few kid games, light web browsing, etc.) the tablet only gets about six hours of battery life. Throw some heavier gaming (Riptide, etc.) or movie-watching into the mix, and you'll see even less. That's not all though - this device seems to take a lot longer than it should to charge. My TF300 can charge from around 20% to full in around two hours, yet this device takes far longer than that to make it to full (it took nearly four hours to go from 35% to full). Combine this with an impatient child, and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

Camera

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The Nabi 2 has but a solitary camera, found on the front of the device; ergo, it's not meant for taking pictures, but rather video chatting. Skype is included with the tablet (since Google Apps are missing, Talk isn't present, either) for video chat purposes, and the camera does exactly what you'd expect from a 2MP shooter.

There's also an included "photobooth" type app called Camera Fun that the kids will surely love to use for taking pictures of themselves, as it features some amusing (yet basic) effects such as Color X-Ray, Mirror, Pinch, Sketch, and more.

All in all, the camera is fine for its intended use, but don't expect to get any mind-blowing images out of it.

Software

Okay, so we've talked about the form factor and hardware of the device, but this is where the bulk of the review will be, as the majority of the experience is found in the software.

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When you first fire up the Nabi 2, it's very clear that you're not dealing with a "normal" tablet. The lockscreen is a fullscreen image, and you have to drag the entire thing to unlock the device - a la Samsung's Touchwiz UI on smartphones. The lockscreen is plain, features the date and time up in the top left corner, and the shortcut to the camera in the bottom right. It's quite clean, and I like the look. However, it's a bit frustrating to use - you sometimes have to swipe two or three times before it actually accepts it and disables the lockscreen. I found that sometimes I even had to swipe across three-quarters of the screen to unlock the device. That's not a huge deal for me, as I'm an adult with adult-sized hands; for a child, however, it may be far more difficult.

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Once unlocked, you're greeted with the aforementioned "Kidz Mode." It's a very basic interface that consists of several pages with eight oversized icons on each. Not surprising, the backgrounds and icons are both bright, vibrant, and look very child-like. The first three pages seem to be themed, indicated by various backgrounds; once you get to page four, however, it applies the user-defined background and maintains that throughout the remaining pages. If you'd like to jump straight into an app without having to swipe through a dozen pages, however, the full Kidz Mode app tray is accessible in the same way it is on traditional tablets; namely, the button in the top right corner.

You'll also notice that, whilst in Kidz Mode, the navigation bar is a bit different than normal: instead of the normal Back, Home, and Multi-task options, you get Back, Home, and Menu. The menu button doesn't open the system menu, though; it's the Kidz Mode menu. This is where you'll find quick links to Home, Web, Camera, Parent Mode, Chore List, and Settings. I'm going to run through the non-self explanatory ones really quickly just below.

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  • Home, Web, and Camera: Do I need to explain these? Didn't think so. 
  • Mommy/Daddy (Parent) Mode: This disables Kidz Mode and takes you to the default ICS interface.
  • Chore List: I love that they added a quick link to this. It is exactly as it sounds: a list of things you want your child to do. I'll go into more detail below.
  • Settings: Not ICS' stock settings menu, but rather Kidz Mode settings where you can connect to a Wi-Fi network, toggle Bluetooth, change the wallpaper (only affects Kidz Mode), change the look of the "button" (the background for the icons), adjust brightness, and toggle auto-rotation.

Spinlets+ TV and Music

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The tablet features a figurative ton of apps for kids, starting with Spinlets+ TV and Spinlets+ Music. Spinlets+ TV is basically Netflix for kids. It lets your little one stream cartoons and other kids' shows; granted, however, the selection isn't that vast - there are only 63 different shows/moves at the time of writing this. Still, if there's one thing I know about kids, it's that they love to watch the same thing over and over. And over. And over. It'll actually drive you mad. All the parents out there know exactly what I'm talking about, and Spinlets+ TV does a good job catering to this behavior. Upon launching the Spinlet's TV service for the first time, I had to start a "free 30 day trial," but there was no indicator of how much the service would cost past that 30 day window; after a bit of research however, I found out that the Spinlets+ TV service is a reasonable $2.99 for unlimited streaming. Thus, if your little one gets madly addicted after 30 days, you won't go broke trying to keep them entertained.

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Similarly, Spinlets+ Music is a music service for kids. Unlike its TV counterpart, however, Music isn't a subscription-based service, but rather an á la cart service. The selection is exactly what you would expect from a childrens' music store: Kidz Bop, Selena Gomez, Hannah Montana, and more cartoon soundtracks than you can shake a stick at (I really don't understand that phrase - why would I want to shake a stick at anything, really?). Oh, and there's Ziggy Marley, too. Tracks cost the standard $0.99 per song, but you don't have to worry about your mischievous little angel buying tracks without your knowledge - it requires the mommy/daddy password before it allows a purchase to happen. Crisis averted.

It's worth noting, too, that Spinlets+ Music force closed every time I tried to purchase a track, but that could have something to do with the fact that I'm using a review unit that was pre-configured when I got it.

Chore List and Treasure Box

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I absolutely love the inclusion of the Chore List. My kids are already pretty good about about doing what needs to be done without having to be told (more than once, anyway), but the Chore List makes it so even I don't forget what they're supposed to do. It's really quite simple: in Parent Mode, you populate the chore list with whatever item you want. It offers some pre-configured items, all of which can be spoken using the TTS engine by tapping the speaker icon (that's invaluable for children who can't yet read). Unfortunately, if you manually add a chore in, it doesn't offer the same feature. Sadface.

Otherwise, the Chore List is pretty to-the-point. Your child opens it, sees what needs to be done, and makes it happen. In order to check the item off the list, however, they'll have to bring the device to you, as this can only be done within the Parent interface. That initially bothered me, but it prevents children from checking off items that haven't yet been completed, so it gets a pass.

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But why would a child want to check things off without completing the task, you ask (because we all know that our children do no wrong)? Because the Chore List features its own built-in reward system via the Treasure Box. Basically, when you assign tasks to the children, you also allot how many "Nabi Coins" each tasks is worth. When a child completes a task (and you, in turn, check it off), this virtual currency goes into their bank. They can use it to "buy" various things, including new games and videos, from the Treasure Box. Pretty neat, right? I, for one, think this sort of reward system is a fantastic idea, as it allows kids to realize that reward comes with responsibility and hard work does indeed pay off (hey now, taking a shower is hard work to a kid). Also, if you want to give your kids a little help (and what good parent doesn't?), you can buy more Nabi coins for them at any time.

My only issue with the Chore List is that it may be a little too basic; I would like to see more granular controls. For instance, perhaps your child has a chore that only needs to be done three or four days out of the week - the Chore List shows every task on weekly basis, so it's still up to your child to remember which chores need to be done on which days. This may be trivial to some parents, but I could definitely see the added value in a day-by-day chore list over a weekly list.

Nabi Cloud, Nabi Sync, and App Zone

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Since cloud storage is the hottest thing on the planet right now, every company, manufacturer, software developer, carrier, ISP, cable company, gas station, fast food chain, and retail outlet has to have their own variant. The same is true for Fuhu, and on the Nabi 2, it's called Nabi Cloud (clever, right?). Like Dropbox, Nabi Cloud offers 2GB of free storage, but that's pretty much the only thing the two services have in common, as Nabi Cloud seems to be extremely watered-down. In this use-case, however, that's not such a bad thing (remember, this tablet is for kids, not businessmen). How is it watered-down, you ask? Well, for starters, the sync is only one-way. You cannot upload anything from the tablet to Nabi Cloud; but rather only view the content within. Nabi Cloud has three folders by default: Movies, Photos, and Videos. This way, parents can put their little one's favorite shows, movies, and music in the Cloud that may not be available elsewhere within the Nabi ecosystem.

Similarly, Nabi Sync is a way to transfer local files from the computer to the tablet and vice versa. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try out the service, as it requires Windows software that was not made available to me. I'll go ahead and give this one the benefit of the doubt, however; I'm sure it works as advertised, given the simple nature of syncing files over USB between a PC and a mobile device.

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As I mentioned earlier in the review, the Nabi 2 doesn't have access to the Play Store. What it does have, however, is its own app ecosystem called App Zone. The App Zone features over 500 different apps, including games, entertainment and learning titles, and more - all designed just for kids. It has a clean and easy to use interface that breaks down apps by type, as well as age group, so finding age-appropriate content is a snap. A quick look through the App Zone revealed a couple of familiar Tegra 3 titles like Riptide GP, Big Top THD, and Rett Tailfin, as well as a handful of other popular games like Burn the Rope and Angry Birds, but, for the most part, it's populated with apps that I personally have never heard of (in all fairness, though, I don't spend a lot of time surfing the "apps for learning" scene). Of course, the Amazon Appstore is always a good choice if you're looking for a way to broaden the range of content your children have access to.

Web Browser

The Nabi 2 ships with two web browsers: the stock browser and Maxthon. Why Maxthon? Honestly, I'm not sure. But it's set as the default browser, is rocking a super kid-friendly theme, and packed to the gullet with ways to keep your kiddos safe online. When your kids launch the "Web" button in Kidz Mode, this is what they'll see:

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And here's the best part about that:

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You see, if they try to navigate to a site not on the white list, they get denied double-quick, and that's fantastic. Because, let's face it, if given the opportunity, many children will at least attempt to visit some less-than-ideal sites on the web. The browser comes with ten pre-loaded websites that are definitely kid-friendly. Like with most other aspects of this device, you're not stuck with just the default options, though. You can easily add more sites to the white list by tapping the plus sign on the main page. You'll go through a one-time setup to create a parental password the first time you do this, and you'll need only enter the password when adding subsequent sites later.

I also really like how easy the browser is to navigate. Unlike more "adult" browsers, the navigation panel doesn't disappear while scrolling the page; in fact, it is always displayed at the bottom of the browser with back, forward, home, refresh, settings, and full-screen buttons always visible. I really like the fact that the navigation is at the bottom of the browser window, because that makes it much easier for little hands to reach. This is actually the default setting in Maxthon, so if you like that layout, you can grab the browser from the Play Store and give a whirl on any device. Maxthon also has some really nifty add-ons, like Screenshot Assistant and File Manager, but that's a different story for a different day. Just know that it's a really neat browser and a nice addition to the already impressive arsenal of child-friendly applications already included on the Nabi 2.

Websites, Videos, Crafts, and Books

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Aside from the websites allowed within the browser, there is also an application in Kidz Mode called Websites. It's basically just another front-end to the web, albeit far more specific in nature. All of these sites appear to be pre-selected by Fuhu as part of the Fooz Kids app suite, and run in their own proprietary browser of sorts. Upon launching the Websites app, you're greeted by a paginated list of kid-friendly websites, like Barney and Friends, Blue's Clues, Dora, Miss Spider, and other well know characters, both new and old. The "browser" that these sites are launched in is far, far more basic than Maxthon or the stock browser; it has but two controls: navigation (back and forward) and home. Ergo, if you want to allow the kids to access a select few websites, but aren't comfortable with giving them a full browser to play with, the Websites app is the way to go.

Along the sames lines as Websites is another app, called Videos. Just like Websites, this is a front end an online video catalog full of childrens' shows. There are actually quite of few different shows from networks like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. It doesn't appear that these are full episodes, however, but rather just short clips from the various shows. Given the ultra-short attention span of most kids, though, that should work out just fine. And, hey, it's free!

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Rounding out this set of psuedo-apps is Crafts, which is laid out identical to Websites and Videos, offering a sandbox to some unique content for children. As the name implies, Crafts is a place to find fun things for kids to make, and each of them has a common theme: holidays. Within each holiday's listing, you'll find several crags that your children can make. A quick skim through showed a variety of different projects; some looked fairly easy, while others looked far more time consuming. I actually think this is a really neat addition, as it actually gets kids away from staring at a digital device non-stop and has them doing something productive during their "down time."

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Unlike the other three apps in this section, Books isn't a front end to some web-based service, nor is it what you think it is (eBooks for kids). It's a way for children to make their own book using pictures. I actually really love this feature and think it's fantastic for building up kids' creativity, as it encourages them to write a story using images that they've either take with the tablet's camera (which is actually slightly difficult since the device doesn't actually have a rear shooter) or ones that they've saved from the web. Another thing I really love about this app is how simple it is to use. Everything is laid out in an easy-to-follow way, as not to confuse the kids. And once they're finished adding the images and text for their story, then can save it and view their creation in the viewer. What a fantastic way to not only encourage a child's imagination, but their appreciation for the written word!

Fooz University

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Up to this point, we've mostly looked at ways the Nabi 2 tablet entertains your kids. It's not all about entertainment, though - the Nabi 2 tablet is also a learning device thanks to the Fooz University suite of apps that includes lessons to help your child improve at Math, English, Science, and Social Studies. Each subject is broken down into several sub-categories, which varies between subjects. For example, the Math app has options for both lessons and quizzes, in each grade level offered (K-5); English, on the other hand, offers K-3 (and no quiz), while Science sticks with the K-5 grade levels, and Social Studies goes with a more basic Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced setup.

Each application uses a system that we should all be quite familiar with by now: levels and stars (like Angry Birds). After selecting the appropriate grade level and "course," the application presents an instruction window detailing what the child is to do to complete the level. There's also a link at the top that plays a short video clip with the instructions.

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The lessons are clear, concise, and to the point. Each one prominently displays the question at hand in the center of the screen, with answer options at the bottom. Of course, this requires the child to be able to read, so be ready to assist and work with your little one if they haven't yet learned how.

Overall, I like the Fooz University offering, as it approaches learning in a very familiar way, making it almost seem like more of a game than an actual learning experience. In my mind, that's definitely a good thing.

Games, Games, Games

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Since the Nabi 2 features one of the most powerful mobile chips in existence - NVIDIA's Tegra 3 - the gaming experience is on par with the top Android tablets on the market today. The tablet ships with demo versions of some of the best (and most kid-friendly) Tegra Games, like Riptide GP, Bang Bang Racing THD, Jet Tailfin, Demolition Inc. THD, and more. The full versions of each game are available in the App Zone for the same price that you'll find them in the Play Store.

Unfortunately, not all Tegra titles are available in the App Zone, so if you're looking to play some Shadowgun THD or Dark Meadow THD on the kids' tablet while they're not using it, you're out of luck. The reasons behind this are pretty obvious; this is, after all, a device designed for children.

Still, the games that are available play really well, and the graphics are top-notch. And if you simply must have Shadowgun, you can always grab the non-THD version from the Amazon Appstore. You're welcome.

Parent Mode

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Finally, something for the parents! Since this device is made for children, I've focused this review on that aspect of the device. However, as I've mentioned many times throughout, there is a mode just for parents, generally referred to as Mommy or Daddy Mode (I've just called it Parent Mode throughout this review, though).

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Once you activate Parent Mode, the Nabi 2 is basically just a stock Android 4.0.4 tablet, minus Google Apps. As previously mentioned, you can sideload the Amazon Appstore so increasing your app catalog isn't all that difficult, but you won't find apps like Gmail or Gtalk there, so you'll still be left just short of a full Android experience. If you can live without GApps, though, the Nabi 2 performs basic functions just fine.

Final Thoughts

So, five-thousand-something words later, how do I feel about the Nabi 2? Honestly, I think it's a fantastic tablet for the kids. My children loved playing with it, and the fact that it incorporates features that help better them while they use it gets a definite thumbs up from me (and trust me, I'm one of those meticulous parents). Sure, it's not perfect, but it doesn't have any drastic flaws that make the device unusable, or even anything that makes it frustrating to use. It appears that most of the details of the Nabi 2, both in software and hardware, were approached with kids in mind; ergo, everything is easy to use, simple in nature, and, for the most part, very intuitive.

The Bottom Line: I think the Nabi 2 is a fantastic device that both kids and parents can get behind. I'm walking away from this review extremely impressed with not only the level of detail in the software, but the overall design, as well. Thus, if you want a device for your kids that's not only fun to use, but has some educational merit, this device is an excellent choice. And at only $199, you'll get a premium Android experience that won't break the bank.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffreygclark Jeff Clark

    Wow. This is really cool!

    • Phillyfirst215

      As the parent of a 3 yo who totes around a hp tpad on cm9 everywhere she goes, if you cant put netflix on this its a no go for me.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        Why couldn't you put Netflix on it? 

        • Phillyfirst215

          Well it said no access to the google play store. I guess you could side load it.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            No Play Store doesn't mean no app ecosystem. The Amazon Appstore can easily be installed. :)

          • xboxbabe70

            Yes but it is very limited as far as free apps compared to google play, the interface stinks, and requires a credit card in order to create an account.

          • mitchel5280

            I rather have the Amazon store over the Play Store as some type of QC comes with it and it's not flooded with garbage.

          • xboxbabe70

            You can download it from amazon since you cannot put google play on it yet.

      • Nicole

        Netflix comes preloaded on it.

  • Bob

    Time to convince my girlfriend to make some kids.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leviwallach Levi Wallach

      Probably the best reason to have kids - to get a new Android tablet! ;-)

    • mitchel5280

      Get married first. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

    Wow a T3 processor @ the $199 price point? Sounds great, I hope Google can emulate this for their Nexus tablets, if they are ever coming.

    • Jonathan Wong

      And with Google behind that Nexus tablet, it'd better be 10x better then this tablet for the same price.  Otherwise, they ought ot be very embarassed...

  • Ruben

    For the more experienced geeks, a Nook Color running CM9 is perfect for kids. I have a three and four year old with Colors. They love them and my daughter is currently learning to read and my son is learning to write. This tablet is pretty cool though spec wise. Hey AP can the Google Play Store be sideloaded? Or can any app be sideloaded, or downloaded from dropbox.com or something. Not having the Play store is a deal breaker. I have bought so many games and apps that I could not go somewhere else.

    • Clint Pedersen

      Probably not sideloaded per se. But I'm sure that a hack is forthcoming with a way to flash gapps over. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/leviwallach Levi Wallach

        On the current Nabi (Nabi 1?) there are instructions on sideloading Google Play, so I suspect that you'll also be able to do this with the Nabi 2.

  • Mikael Guggenheim

    The sad thing about this tablet is that my 8 yo daugther prob outgrown it already.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leviwallach Levi Wallach

      How so?  We have a Nabi 1 (the original) and my 6-year-old just uses the "mommy mode" which is the same thing as stock froyo.  When we upgrade to the Nabi 2, we'll probably bypass the kids mode as well - my daughter's almost 7.  The nice thing about it though is that you can also get whatever apps suit your child's age range...

      • Mikael Guggenheim

         My daughter is used to doing almost the same things on the computers as I am. She even crush me on Half-Life 2 atm. :S

        • mitchel5280

          8 year old playing Half-Life....I think you have some bigger issues you may want to address.

  • Justin Stroud

    When will this become available to purchasi? My daughter will be turning six in August. I can't keep my Touchpad or Fire out of her hands so this would be perfect for her.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Should be available in mid-July. 

    • jbi

      Oh brother give her the kindle fire and replace it with the nexus 7

      • Justin Stroud

        I have since come to that conclusion myself :) I had intended to keep the Fire at first, but I am not getting the Nexus 7.

  • Clint Pedersen

    Where can one purchase said tablet?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      It's not yet available, and Fuhu is currently finalizing the list of retailers.

    • Anon

       Keep an eye out at Gamestop, Best Buy, and similar retailers come release time.

  • Robbf

    Will be available in July at Walmart and Best Buy

  • Smurphjw

    Flash support?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Indeed.

  • Jonathan Wong

    If the battery were better, it would be great to keep kids quiet on long plane rides.  

    Otherwise, good price and fairly nice specs at $200 with a Quad Core proc, Google better beat this with all the subsidization and all that.  If Google can't even beat this by a long long distance, they've much to be ashamed of.

  • Jonathan Wong

    If the battery were better, it would be great to keep kids quiet on long plane rides.  

    Otherwise, good price and fairly nice specs at $200 with a Quad Core proc, Google better beat this with all the subsidization and all that.  If Google can't even beat this by a long long distance, they've much to be ashamed of.

  • fixxmyhead

    im not gonna lie but when i heard tegra3 i was already thinking a watered down "fake" tegra3. 

  • Kori

    Putting our children aside, after reading this review, I can't wait to get my hands on it myself.  It seems like a lot of fun!

  • Major_Pita

    Thanks Cameron - good article.

  • Heather O Sheets

    Goodbye Leapad

  • http://twitter.com/SirPinsALot Sir Pins A Lot

    Are all these apps proprietary or can they purchased through Google Play Store?  I searched for 'Chore List and Treasure Box' but didn't get any hits.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Yes, they're all proprietary. They were created by Fuhu just for the Nabi 2. 

  • LightOfReason

    WOW, this is a really good and thorough article; I found some others but they were lame compared to yours, great job.Being that this is an Android shouldn't there be a way to put the Android marketplace on it some how?

    • Amber

      U can u just have 2 go 2 googleplay.com & create a brand new accoun, thats how i did it

  • Tyler Chappell

    Interesting, but to me it just seems like a good waste of hardware for a fairly limited device.  Sure I think its great that kids can learn from a tablet but this is still a $200 "toy" we're talking about. Downgrade the hardware a bit so its still not crippled, but can also sell for $150 or less and and it just might be perfect.

    But still, we all know that if you want your kid to play around with a limited-functionality toy designed specifically for simple-minded children, you just get them an ipad ;]

    • mitchel5280

      "a good waste of hardware"....it that a "good" thing?

      Anyway...they should have put a bigger battery in it.

      • Tyler Chappell

        Basically by that I meant that there would have been little more they could have effectively done to waste quality hardware as much as they did by making this. There's no reason this company shouldn't be able to make a lower-specced tablet even for nearly $100 that just as easily runs the learning apps for kids. I've never once seen a kids learning app that would be demanding on even 2 year old hardware.

        • mitchel5280

          I agree...it's a waste of hardware and they should have put in a BIGGER battery.

  • xray

    Me and my wife got the first nabi for my 3 year old for his birthday in febuary. The people over at fuhu have been great. They updated it twice and we became vip members so we get the nabi 2 for free. If you have kids i highly recommend it. Also for my fellow geeks we were easily able to sidelaod the play store on there whcih in turn gave  access to all of our apps from our other devices

  • Wozzie

    I'm in south Africa. Do you think it would be worth buying for my child over here? Im not sure how the services for the device will work here..or not.. Like Spinlets+ TV and Spinlets+ Music. Your advice would be very welcome. Thanks

    • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.g.adams Kristen Guckenberger Adams

      If you have netflix you don't even need to mess with the spinlets+ is my feeling

  • Emily

    As a non geek can you access you tube? Sorry I'm so not pc friendly :-(

  • Amy

    Thank you for such a comprehensive review. I am considering purchasing two tablets for my kids. Question - Do they have to be hooked up to the internet at all times in order to use the tablet? Or, are the applications like downloaded software that doesn't need internet access once installed?

  • Leah Flemons

    My 10 year old would like a tablet for christmas. Would the Nabi 2 be too young for her? Maybe the Nook would be a better choice?

  • Kim

    Can you upgrade the divice for long term use? My daughter is in 3rd grade as I see you have stated the age range is Pre-K - 5th. I wouldn't want to spend $200 on a tablet she can only use 2 years. I'm looking at the Nook tablet for her. What do you recommend?

  • andrea lewis

    Quick question... Can I download full episodes of kids shows and/or movies on this?

  • Lindora90

    So can you watch full episodes of Disney shows on this and can you download Disney movies?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I'm not sure if you can watch full episodes, but it definitely doesn't allow Disney movies to be downloaded. Disney keeps a pretty tight grip on that sort of stuff, but the good news is that they just signed into a deal with Netflix today!

      • PINJ

        The bad news is that they bought the rights to star wars

      • Aleta

        That's good to hear!

  • meesh1721

    hi there,can u still play angry birds,fruit nija and cut the rope on this.cuz that is mainly why he wants this for xmas.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Indeed you can. You may need to sideload the Amazon Appstore to get some of those, but that's extremely easy to do.

      • http://www.facebook.com/catherine.f.richards Catherine Furr Richards

        Are all games available there? Like Angry birds HD, space, monopoly hotels, catapult king?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Yep.

    • Cremon

      Yep. That was enough for me to buy it for my 8 year old son. His older sister (a teenager) has an iPad 2. This thing is powerful enough so that he doesn't feel like he got something for little kids - it's the same size as his sister's tablet - and he can play Angry birds on it - for me it's all the stuff cameron mentioned above. Well worth $200 IMHO.

  • mommyof4

    Can anyone give me the dimensions for it WITHOUT the cover? Please... thank you!

  • Cremon

    Thanks for this extremely detailed review! Buying it for my 8 year old for Christmas!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bsmoats Sarah Moats

    Ok, so I really am thinking this would be the best bet for my 6 year old.... :D Was thinking one of the 'knock offs' but this would be best. Considering shes already stealing my tablet and using it just as well, if not better than, me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.gallup.92 Jason Gallup

    Can you get Netflix and Pandora on this? If not, it would be a total dealbreaker for us.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      You can get them through the Amazon Appstore.

    • Ron S

      I loaded and tested Netflix yesterday. I think I saw Pandora was available but didn't try it.

  • jcb

    so for a nine year old a kindle fire or nabi? I got a nabi for $140 on black friday but dont know if I should buy her a kindle fire instead.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Between those two I would go with the Nabi, but I think something like the Nexus 7 is really a better all-around tablet for older kids. However, you can always just let him/her use the Nabi in "parent mode," which provides the full tablet experience instead of the kid-friendly interface of Monarch UI.

      • Hoosier Mom

        I'm debating between Nabi 2 and the Nexus 7 for my 5 and 8 yr old. Is Nexus the way to go - even without HD, or Kindle Fire for the Amazon App Store? Not a "tech geek" and I'm super confused!

        • Ron S

          For me, knowing that everything is locked down is the main reason to go with the Nabi 2. I don't like to let my 5 year old use my tablet without supervision because she inadvertently clicks on advertisement or could visit websites unsuitable for kids. I have it set such that a PIN is required to purchase anything through Google Play, but I've heard stories of kids accidentally purchasing things anyway.

          Anyway, I feel comfortable letting her take the Nabi 2 to her room without me.

    • John

      my wife has a kindle fire and after you create a kindle account it saves your credit card info and there is no way to password protect purchases on it. it is one click purchase and automatic charge to your card. that is THE reason we didnt get one for out kid. he could buy anything he wanted anytime he wanted parent approval or not

  • Treadoc

    Can you download music videos through the Sprinklets music or,you tube,or Vevo or some similar program....through its wifi connection. I am concerned abou the battery life and just whether this is better or if I shoudl just bite the bullet and get the Nexus 7

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferMartino Jennifer Martino

    You have done an incredible job at reviewing this tablet. I read every word. Thank you so much!

  • Brent

    Hi Cameron... great article! You are very detailed and thorough, just like me. (: My sister-in-law just got Nabi 2s for my niece and nephew. She's trying to load Google Play but hasn't had any luck yet... and once I tried to help her out, I can see why. Almost all the info we found was from the Nabi 1... can you point me in the right direction so I can find info on loading Google Play to the Nabi 2? Or would it be the same process as the first one? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      There's a root method, which also allows GApps to be sideloaded, that can be found here: http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/10/07/fuhu-nabi-2-childrens-tablet-gets-root-and-gapps/
      However, last I heard Fuhu was working with Google to gain GApps certification, which means the Play Store could be coming in the future. It's also worth noting that if the device is rooted using the above method, it will no longer get updates. It's a coin toss, no doubt. Personally, I'd just stick with the Amazon Appstore for now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.p.diaz Deborah Perez Diaz

        Is there a way to unroot it and back to stock condition?

  • http://www.facebook.com/denise.anderson.1088 Denise Anderson

    where and how can I downoad books for older children? My son loves Diaper baby and captain underpants I looked on Amazon and not sure how browse books I can download for the Nabi2.. Please help :-/

  • M I

    Great review. Thank you. How difficult would it be for a 4 year old answer a call on Skype without adult supervision if she had a dedicated Skype username? Can it be done from Kids mode or it must be in Parent mode? Can Skype be on all the time?

    • Maru Cubero

      We are from Costa Rica and our children will have their Nabi2 for Christmas; you have done an incredible job at reviewing this tablet. I read every word to set up each device to 7 and 5 year old boys; we are so exited!!! Thank you so much!

  • tisfubar

    Root + gaaps ( playstore) are available and working

  • tisfubar

    With. spex launcher root and google apps this tablet is by far superior to the nexus 7. Add a 32 gig sd andhav 40 gig

  • cfredrun

    This article was extremely helpful and well written. Great job. Thank you.

  • m k

    It is not possible to get the Google stuff you want on Nabi2?

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilda.magee Marilda Magee

    I seem to have problem turning on nabi 2 just got it light turns green but it won't switch on any ideas

  • Joe

    I gave one to my 10 year old for Christmas. 2 days later and it's not working. No user manual in box, only online. Customer support by phone is so overwhelmed that they won't even put me in a holding queue. You get referred to try looking on Facebook. This bad boy will go back to Best Buy and I will get a tablet from a big company, that actually offers customer support.

  • Leesa

    Are there free games in treasure box?

  • Chloe

    Great article! Got one for my daughter for Xmas and so far so good! But.... when I have tried to add websites I want her to access - including Disney ones - it says NO....what am I doing wrong - why can't I just add what I want without it filtering over and above me?
    Chloe

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500663270 Chi Ahrens

    Well, once you get passed the Nabimoon, you'll begin the realize that Nabi blew their budget on the Tegra 3, and the rest of the tablet is poorly constructed from cheap parts. Among the issues that people are having - faulty charging system that is prone to breakage, wireless issues that require a factory reset (yes, you lose all your data unless it's backed up), lines across the screen, billing problems from the Nabi App Store, and a lack of customer support.

  • jared

    To me the biggest flaw is that there is no easy way to download movies to it...i should have read more before buying but i just figured any tablet (especially for $180) would be able to download a digital movie to it for a kid to watch in the car. Seriously?..no one wants to take my $15 to download Toy Story on it??...amazon? apple? google? anyone?? it's basically a nexus 7 without google apps but with a decent kids mode. Waste of hardware. Will be returning and getting a kindle fire with a kids bumper.

  • shy76

    I'm having problem on switching kids from the chore list on the nabi mode. I have 4 account on the chore list and my boys wanted to see what they are suppose to do and see if there a check mark on the things thats already done. How do you switch kids from chore list on the nabi mode??

  • Jason

    Odd little thing, but my niece or nephew might like it

  • http://www.tabletsforkidsguide.com/ Glady Reyes

    This is a really thorough review and it's much appreciated. I've been scouring the net for information for kids tablets and it seems that Nabi is one of the best choices. Unfortunately, it seems hard to get it in the Philippines unless I try to buy online.

  • Lori

    How is the video quality? I played a Disney show while at the store and the quality wasn't great. Not sure if it had anything to do with it only having a 5% charge to the battery.

  • Daddy Day

    Just bought this tablet for my daughters Bday tomorro and this review really made me feel good about my purchase. Thank you.

  • Natalie Cedillo

    Can tou put youtube? My daughter loves it

  • Lakisha Anderson

    Does the nabi 2 have internet?

  • Chad

    I just got this for 160$!! This is the best Tablet purchase I have made. The thing is great. They allow your kid to earn money and everything. You can tell Fuhu is trying to be innovative and figure out new better ways to teach our children. Its fantastic! I bought it for my 3 year old for Christmas was afraid it may be a bit too soon.. but he has already learned to education games! ( It even comes with a browser that accepts FLASH ) the things a beast I suggest any one buy it.

  • Stephanie Mankoski

    We bought the Nickelodeon edition but just saw they have a disney edition... are you able to upgrade to the Disney edition if you have a different edition?

  • Danielle

    So, I'm wondering... I'm looking into one of these for my godbrother, and it seems the main draw is the preloaded educational content. But if one had to decide between this (he's nine, and one of a big family, so I know things tend to get broken at his place by the smaller ones and I'm worried about buying him a $200 tablet) and buying a comparable tablet *not* designed for kids and locking down the parental settings, which would you choose? Is the software/UI alone worth the purchase of this specific brand?

  • JS

    this needs an update as of 12/19/2013 there is now Google Play! and parent mode is the same as any full android. There is now also ability to watch Watch Disney Apps :)

  • Concerned Father

    Let me tell you all about how Nabi Customer Service responds to your needs. I purchased a Nabi 2 under their Inpire program. I thought that this would be a great item to help my 11 year old who suffers from Autism. I filled out thri application and was sent a unit just in time for Christmas. My duaghter was really excited to have a tablet of her own. However, the volume controls did not work from day one. I contacted support on 12/31/13 (btw...40 mintues on hold to speak with someone....ok it's Christmas). I spoke with a representative who informed me that Nabi would repair the unit. I said that it was broke out of the box and I'd like a new one not one someone had to open and mend. i was informed that this was their policy...it's amaxing how pleasent the on-hold greetings were compared to the representatve quoting policy.

    I later received a confirmation e-mail with instructions on the return process. it asked if there was anything in error on the return...if so, contact them immediately. They had the return shipping incorrect and the problem was wrong. I replyed to the email the next day (Jan 1, 2014). No response. I tried again to reply in a couple of days. No response. I then tried the phone. i reached a rep who was albe to make the corrections. I inquired as to why I was paying for shipping for a defective unit for repair. "This is our policy." NO WHAT I WOULD EXPECT. I shipped the unit you their repair center (in CA and I live in NC) on Jan. 7. It was received on Jan 14. BTW, their return instructions state that turn around for repairs/replacements is 2-3 days.

    Here it is Jan 31 and I have not heard about the status of my unit. Everyday, my daughter (who does not understand) is asking where her tablet that Santa brought her? I called Nabi to inquire on my tablet. The rep informed me that for some reason my unit was 'flagged' on hold. She would check with thei corporate office and that someone would be calling me back in a day or two.

    Here we are again, Feb 3. No one has called. I called to check on the status again. The rep told me that they did not have my model and that a different model was being shipped. After I questioned her a bit, she changed her story and said that a replacement unit was to ship in the next 7-10 business days. I asked to speak with someone in their corporate office. i was transfered to someone (perhaps in their corporate office....not really sure based on her responses). She informed me that she could not tell me when a replacement unit could ship as there was no way to call the warehouse (REALLY?!?! No phones...I bet emergency services / OSHA would like to know that a warehouse cannot use phones). I asked for someone to (specifically her) cal me back tomorrow with a status of the shipment. I was told I could call back anytime tomorrow and check. I asked her to call me herself, either way -- shipment or not, she said she would (We shall see).

    What has customer service come to? This is a company that offers to help the disability, but how much teeth do they really put behind their statements? Perhaps, I should "use the power of the pen"( or the social keyboard ). Maybe, I'll just contact VISA and put the charge in dispute...since they have my tablet. Maybe, if Nabi really monitors this post, they would like to have my change it by actiually doing something to help.

    Father of an Autistic Child

  • sprpwr

    Latest update finally has the Play store.

  • jarrad.

    How do I get my setting on my nabi2 kids mode

  • jarrad.

    Why can't I get my son setting up on kids mode

    • Kori

      It should start up in nabi mode. If it is in parent mode, tap the red nabi mode icon.

  • Amber

    Actually u can get google play on ur nabi 2, i did it by goin on da internet 2 googleplay.com then created a brand new acount & started downloadin

  • Miahuh

    Where is he reset botton on the nabi 2?