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Hands-on with the Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 24, a tablet for kids that parents can control

Mark Hachman | Oct. 29, 2014
I was forced to put off my review of the Fuhu Nabi BigTab HD 24 by three days because I had taken away my son's gaming privileges.

A wealth of apps

When you power on the BigTab HD 24, the first thing you'll see is a cartoon picture of your child, together with a recorded message that he or she can choose to play. Sliding right reveals several pages of apps and interactive books. At the bottom of the screen is the familiar Android "home" and "back" buttons for navigation. In the upper right there's also an Android-y "more apps" button that pulls you out of the BigTab UI and into an Android interface. 

At six, my son is old enough to have moved beyond Thomas the Tank Engine and other younger shows, but exposing him to anything faces risks. Are guns acceptable? What about spinning gears that chew your character to bits? You'll find both in the apps Fuhu includes, so play some of them yourself before turning your kids loose. (You can hide apps that you don't find appropriate; more on that later.) 

The BigTab begins with a picture of your child, plus an optional message that you can record. Slide right, and you can begin exploring: first through some of Nabi's own apps, including generic games like checkers and backgammon. (Several of these lack a single-player mode, encouraging you to play with your child.)  Younger kids should enjoy a version of Hungry Hungry Hippos, but played with hungry sharks instead. The tablet's drawing app is excellent, with large, well-organized drawing tools and stickers that show off the large screen to its best advantage.

Further on, the games become more commercial, like Fruit Ninja. My son's favorite was Epic Stickman, which asks your child to draw a stickman, animates it, and then challenges your child to use it to rescue a fellow stickman by moving through drawing-based challenges. But I was disappointed by the iStoryTime and Speakaboos interactive storybook apps, as they're mainly pitches for you to buy third-party video. 

There are also utilities like Nabi Konnect, which allow you to chat and share photos with friends that parents pick, and carefully guided tours of the Web (which equate to little more than toy and movie sites). Videos and music channels are also included.

Not everything's perfect: A Bag It! game invited kids to shake the tablet to settle virtual groceries — a game mechanic that could actually be dangerous with a tablet of that size. And another, Gear Jack, used virtual buttons on either side of the screen that needed to be quickly pressed, awkward for kids to stretch that far. An air hockey simulator worked best when then screen was flat, but others wanted the tablet to be rotated to portrait mode, which really isn't possible.

Management brings peace of mind

 

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