Posted by Jim Martin 17 July 2013
Moshi Monsters 7-inch kids tablet review: poor-quality children's tablet
We've seen and tested just about every kids' tablet out there, from the £69 LeapPad 2 to the £149 Nabi 2. The Moshi Monsters version, produced by Ingo Devices, is an Android-based tablet that seems reasonable value at £129, but it isn't a great example. Elder Furi would not be amused. Take a look at: What's the best tablet to take on holiday?
First impressions aren't bad. It's small and light, with front and rear cameras, a microSD card slot and – the highlight – pictures of the Moshi Monsters on the back. It even feels relatively well made, but things go downhill as soon as you turn the tablet on. Visit: The 10 best tablets with 3G/4G connectivity.
The 7-inch screen has a very low resolution that makes things look blocky. That wouldn't be so bad if the main kids' interface had large icons. It doesn't. The tiny app shortcuts are near-impossible to decode (they're not labeled) but kids will no doubt memorise their functions quickly enough. See also: iPad 5 preview.
You get a video player with a handful of pre-loaded Moshi clips (also available on YouTube); a music player with no pre-loaded music; a selection of Moshi Monsters pictures (available free online); a shortcut to the standard Android camera app; an E-Book app containing a PDF of the manual; a shortcut to the kid-safe web browser and links to the Moshi Monsters store, the Moshlings and Moshi websites.
However, here's the huge problem: it isn't possible to access the Moshi Monsters website from an Android tablet. Because the game is Flash-based, it isn't supported on Android or any tablet apart from those running the full version of Windows 8. Even Dr Strangeglove wouldn't stoop this low.
What you get instead is a spin-off app called Moshi Monsters Village, a village building game where you can collect Moshlings. This will provide some fun but if your child already likes the website, the fact they won't be able to use it on the tablet is going to be a big problem.
There are other reasons not to buy this tablet, too.
Aside from the low resolution, the screen is a particularly poor example and has terrible viewing angles. This means that colours invert when you tilt the tablet slightly, and certain colours disappear entirely. Even gentle prods generates a ripple-like effect on the screen, which can't be good for longevity. Yet another screen-related problem is that it doesn't always respond to taps, so you're never quite sure if you need to tap again.
The cameras produce dismal quality photos and videos, and you don't even get a rubber bumper in the box to protect the tablet from drops.
For an extra £50, you can buy an accessory pack that contains a carry case, headphones and a stylus.
Moshi monsters tablet: kids' interface
Any kids' tablet needs a safe area where they can't mess around with settings, or access inappropriate content on the web.
The Ingo Kids interface allows you to set a maximum session length and up to three sessions per day to restrict use of the tablet. The parental area also lets you choose which apps are available, so you can decide whether or not to let your child use the sound recorder, calculator and email apps.
It's possible to create multiple user accounts and each can have its own restrictions. It's worth setting a password for each account to prevent kids getting around time limits and content restrictions by using a sibling's account.
Since there's access to both Ingo and Google's app stores, you can choose from a huge variety of apps.
Moshi monsters tablet: performance
Performance isn't usually high on the agenda for a kids' tablet, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a consideration when buying one.
Browsing the web is pretty clunky and slow. It isn't helped by the low resolution, which means you have to do a lot more scrolling than on high-res tablets. The Moshi tablet managed 2507ms in the SunSpider test which compares poorly with the Nabi 2, which completed the test in 1678ms.
Geekbench measures general performance, and returned 633 on the Moshi tablet. That's not the worst we've seen, but it pales next to the Nabi 2, which managed 1,551.
Gaming performance is reasonably good, at 12fps in the GLBenchmark Egypt HD test.
However, battery life is a major sticking point. The Moshi tablet lasts just 3.5 hours between charges and takes almost that long to recharge. Expect to have to use it plugged in most of the time, using an extension lead as the bundled mains charger has an oddly short cable.
Moshi monsters tablet Verdict
If you buy a Moshi-branded tablet, you expect to be able to access the Moshi game online. Since this isn't possible, it's appalling that there's no mention of this on the box.
With such a poor screen and only one Moshi app, this tablet is one to avoid. Kids will love it until they realise they can't actually use the Moshi website and enter Monstro City. There aren't many decent Moshi apps for iPad or Android, so tablets and Moshis aren't a natural fit right now.
For now, it's only possible to play Moshi Monsters via a laptop or PC, but even when it eventually supports Android, this tablet is one to avoid.