Many kids, including young children, spend their days using iPads, iPods, and iPhones, some even using educational apps their parents have downloaded on the devices. That's made it difficult for anyone other than Apple to reach the coveted youth market, even if some no doubt make use of Samsung phones and Amazon Fire tablets.
To capture the attention of kids, it seems like you'll have to think big, which is exactly what educational tablet maker Nabi is doing with its latest tablets. Dubbed the not-so-surprisingly Big Tab, the new Android slates are super-sized: available in either 20-inch or 24-inch models. At those sizes, they join other "tabletop PCs" like the Acer Z3-600, Dell XPS 18, HP Envy Rove, and Lenovo Horizon.
Those tablets, to use the term loosely, are all Windows 8 devices. The Big Tab, on the other hand, continues parent company Fuhu's tradition of using Android to power its Nabi educational tablets. That's because the company has produced the Blue Morpho skinning of the OS to make it kid friendly; the newest version overlays the latest version of Android, Kitkat 4.4, which is included on the Big Tab.
While some of the Big Tab's internal components are typical of Android tablets -- Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, 16GB of built-in storage, 2GB of RAM -- there are, of course, the big touchscreens that set them apart. The 20-inch version offers a resolution of 1,600x900, and the 24-inch model features 1,920x1,080, or full 1080p HD, resolution. The massive displays make it easier to use Nabi's multiplayer games (like air hockey and board games) as part of the included Game Room suite.
Other built-in software includes a variety of classic games, 35 interactive books, children's videos from Disney and Cartoon Network, Dream Pro Studio media-creation tools, and Wings Learning System, which comes with thousands of lessons and questions for elementary-school-level math, reading, and writing. There's also an app store to download more content, and Nabi emphasizes the parental controls it has put in place to cover everything from monitoring children's screen time to supervising kids' access to the company's Konnect social network.
There are a couple of major limitations to the Big Tab. Perhaps to address parental oversight concerns, there is no external SD card slot to provide additional storage as is included on almost all other Android tablets. (Of course, users of iPads will be used to this lack of expandability.) Nabi also includes a battery that it calls "short-term," which is another way of saying that you should expect to plug your Big Tab in if kids plan to use it for more than a half hour at a time. This should come as no surprise given the huge power draw the big screens must be, but it certainly further limits the Big Tab's portability.
When they arrive sometime this fall, the Big Tab tablets will be available for $449 for the 20-inch model and $549 for the 24-inch edition. While that's competitvely priced compared to a new iPad, it's certainly more expensive than almost all Android tablets -- can the Big Tab's giant display and kid-friendly ecosystem compensate for the outlay? For some first-hand impressions of the Big Tab, head over to our sister site CNET for its preview of the device.