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Thread: Combi Avatar

  1. #1
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Combi Avatar

    <h4>Combi Avatar Convertible Seat Review</h4>

    <A HREF="http://www.combi-intl.com/combi/8100.htm" TARGET="_TOP"
    ><IMG SRC="http://www.combi-intl.com/combi/images/products/8100_4-250.jpg" ALIGN="middle"></A>Combi Avatar 8100

    <b>Review Introduction</b>

    The Avatar Model 8100 is the first convertible seat from Combi, a well known manufacturer of strollers, high chairs and other baby equipment. The unique base can be installed and then permits recline adjustment without removing the seat. Another unique feature is the built-in recline indicator, something found on many infant seats but not on many other convertible models. This model can be used rear facing for children 5 to 30 pounds (consult physician for use under 5 pounds), and front facing for children above 1 year old and from 20 to 40 pounds. The height range is from 19 to 40 inches, and the maximum height allowed is when the tops of the child's ears are above the top of the restraint or the shoulders exceed the height of the top slots. Some photos can be found here:

    http://www.pbase.com/carseat/combi_avatar (Coming Soon)

    http://pages.ivillage.com/momika/car...otos/id35.html

    <b>Features and Advantages</b>

    <i>5-point Harness with Easy Adjustment</i>- Like many seats, the Avatar has a front harness adjustment to tighten and loosen the harness. The adjustment button is easy to use, but can sometimes be difficult to locate under the fabric cover until you are used to it. This may also help kids from releasing it on their own. The release button also takes a little more strength than other models, and that may help prevent some children from getting out of the harness as well. The harness includes a 2-piece chest clip and a puzzle buckle which can be somewhat difficult to use at first because it doesn't hold together well and then requires more force than normal to plug into the receptacle. The harness straps are relatively easy to re-route though different slots, though they are slightly prone to twisting.

    <i>LATCH</i>- The Avatar includes two flexible straps to attach to the lower anchors found in newer vehicles. LATCH installation is straighforward, though the connectors are generic hook types, and not the easier types with a push-button release found on other high end child restraints. On the other hand, the adjuster on the strap has a push button tension release that is much easier to use than the more common tilt-lock release. The top tether can significantly reduce head excursion and the likelihood of injury in a crash, and it is highly recommended to be used at all times. The LATCH straps must be re-routed when switching between front and rear facing, though the procedure is relatively straightforward and the manual describes it well. Handy storage rings allow for the LATCH connectors to be stowed out of the way.

    <i>Seatbelt Lockoffs</i>- Like Britax convertibles, the Combi Avatar also includes handy seatbelt lockoffs built into the seat when LATCH is not used. These can serve the function of a locking clip in many older vehicles that do not have seatbelts that can properly secure a child seat. The lockoffs can also be used in conjunction with newer seatbelts that do lock, and this can help with the installation of the carseat. Again, the manual details their use and orientation.

    <i>Recline Adjustment</i>- Three recline positions are available. These are adjusted with an easy pull handle at the base of the seat. The reclined position may be needed to achieve the maximum 45 degree recline required for newborns when rear-facing. Older babies with adequate neck strength and head support may have less recline when rear-facing. Unlike most convertibles, the recline settings can be changed even when the child seat is installed!

    <i>Wide Side Wings</i>- After frontal impacts, side impacts are the most common and severe. Most child restraints provide good protection in frontal impacts when used properly. Unfortunately, side impact testing is not mandated and has not been a main design feature for most carseats and boosters in the USA. With very little vehicle structure between a child and a side impact, these crashes are so dangerous that a recent IIHS study showed that they cause the most fatalities for properly restrained children. The the Avatar has wider and deeper than average wings around the head, torso and legs which may help in side impacts and also be a comfort for sleeping kids. While it does not have an EPS foam layer as found in some other convertibles, Combi claims their energy absorbing comfort foam and shell molding provide a similar benefit.

    <i>Padding and Comfort</i>- The Avatar is nicely padded and comfortable. My daighter had no complaints. The crotch strap is also adjustable, which is a feature not found on many convertibles. Unfortunately, even at the outer setting, it is not particularly roomy for kids nearing the upper weight limit. The side impact protection also provides a great headrest for a sleeping child. Mine was in the Sundance fabric which looks very sharp, though my daughter said was, "Just a little bit itchy." On the plus side, the cover is machine washable. An infant insert, crotch and shoulder strap pads are also included. The crotch strap has two positions. The insert MUST be used for small infants.

    <i>Aircraft Certified</i>-This seat has the FAA certification to be used on aircraft. Airplanes will not have lower anchors for the LATCH system, however, so it will be installed normally with the seatbelt just as if it was being installed in a car without LATCH. Instructions for airplane use are included. The seat's weight and bulk may make it a bit cumbersome as a carry-on.

    <i>Rotating Base</i>- The base rotates on an upper and lower section. This allows for recline while installed in the vehicle, and for switching from front-facing to rear-facing. The bottom is very smooth, unlike some seats with corners and edges that tend to gouge or tear vehicle seats. Installation was very good in a variety of vehicles with both LATCH and the seatbelt.

    <i>Manuals</i>- The manual is very detailed with good illustrations. Step-by-step instructions are clear and the important warnings are highlighted.

    I recommend the Avatar, especially if your child is seated in an outside seating position that is closer to a possible side impact. Installation is relatively easy in our 2001 Honda Odyssey and average in our 2000 Subaru Outback, front-facing and rear-facing with the seatbelts OR LATCH system. As with all carseats, the Avatar will be incompatible with some vehicles, but it appears that it should be a good fit in most. LATCH is primarily a convenience feature, as it is easier to use in most vehicles. Even so, it is recommended to use whichever system results in the best fit. A top tether should always be used with LATCH or the seatbelt.


    <b>Disadvantages</b>

    <i>Weight/Bulk</i>- The unique base also causes this seat to be very heavy and bulky compared to other convertibles. This is not an issue if you keep it installed all the time, but could be a disadvantage if you switch vehicles or travel with it on airplanes frequently. On the plus side, it also is a bit wider and taller than other models.

    <i>Price</i>- Though I think it is a reasonable value for all the safety and convenience features, it is among the most expensive child restraints.


    <b>Conclusion</b>

    The Avatar is a nice convertible and compares favorably to many other models on the market. If it is within your price range, it's worth consideration.

    Details on the Combi Avatar can be found here:
    http://www.combi-intl.com/combi/8100.htm

    My Epinions review is here:
    http://www.epinions.com/content_174501891716

    <b>For more information on carseat safety please visit:

    http://www.car-safety.org

    http://www.seatcheck.net</b>

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  3. #2
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Combi Avatar

    Originally posted by CPSDarren
    http://www.pbase.com/carseat/combi_avatar
    Link not working - besides this great review!
    Joy

  4. #3
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    The early Avatar models had a recall based on a possible safety issue when using the LATCH system rear-facing. An upgrade kit has been issued and further tests indicate that the kit resolved the problem. In fact, the testing agency (Consumer Reports) now rates the Avatar as one of the best convertible models.

    Consumer Reports Ratings

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