Graco Symbio B Review
Here come Graco with a pushchair with lots of appeal. Hold onto your hats, it's the review of the Symbio B, see what you think...
This pramette is snug and cosy and has two covers to keep your baby warm and protected. The huge canopy contributes to the full protection and I love the fact that at full stretch it makes the cavity nice and dark for sleeping.
- Good looking
- Safe pramette
- Brilliant connection system
- Tiny basket
- Not height adjustable
- Manual fold lock
Having had a sneaky preview of the Symbio B at the Kind + Jugend Baby Show in Cologne, we are proud to have it on a flying visit to Pushchair Expert HQ for review before it flits off for another Pushchair Expert mission next week....such is the life of an up and coming celebrity!
Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more Graco on the streets in the near future as the ‘Symbio B’ is a stunner and clever to boot. Until January 2012 it is exclusively available at Toys ‘R’ Us and is compatible with the Graco Logico S car seat.
Where the 'Symbio B' differs from its predecessor the 'Symbio', the ‘Symbio B’ can be transformed into a lie-flat pramette. You can still use a carrycot if you prefer, but the ‘B’ gives you a complete system for one great value price.
The frame is predominantly matt aluminium with all the working parts enclosed in black plastic. Starting at the bottom, the 26cm rear wheels have pneumatic tyres and the smaller 19cm front wheels are EVA foam. The front wheels can be locked so that they don’t swivel, useful for tackling unsteady terrain.
The basket is small at 30cms wide x 30cms long and 20cms at its deepest, it is also quite hard to access even without the seat unit in place. The brake cable limits access at the front leaving you a letterbox sized hole at the rear, below the folding mechanism. You can only deposit your bits and bobs through the sides, much more than the rain cover would be a squeeze.
Working our way up the frame, the arches that suspend the seat are smooth without any angles or cavities to scratch or trap tiny fingers.
Located on the right handle shaft, the brake involves lifting a lever to apply, or pressing the button and flicking the lever back to release. It’s a great position to for the brake to be situated giving you full control at your fingertips.
In the centre of the handle is the button that allows you to flip the handle over the chair, so that your rear wheels become the front wheels. This comes in very handy for tackling rough terrain or sitting your child upto the table with the handle out of the way. If you keep the button depressed, the handle will continue its path down towards the front wheels and from there you can fold the frame.
The folding ‘action’ buttons are clearly marked 1 and 2; sliding button 1 down while squeezing button 2 will enable you to pick up the frame at the centre, swinging the front wheels towards the back. To lock the fold, a node marked 3 slips into a socket at the front of the basket....This is all much more obvious in the practice than it is in text...honest!
Obviously your first use of your Symbio B is likely to be as a pramette. Not normally my favourite pushchair party trick, however this pramette converts with a semi rigid, padded liner, almost a carrycot in itself.
Converting your seat to a flat bed is a little bit fiddly but it’s not a procedure you are going to have to perform very often.
Firstly, remove the seat liner and harness; this is the worst part, due to having to unthread the harness from the buckle. Once you’ve done that, the liner comes away when you unpop it from six press studs.
Unzip the zip around the head of the interior and the longer zip on the back of the chair. Unclip the straps that create the 90 degree angle for the knee and then undo the hook in the foot rest. As a bare shell it doesn’t look that inviting, but inserting the carrycot liner converts it into a snug bed with a zip-on, padded, jersey cover.
Secure the liner into the cavity using the poppers either side and then cover with the matching apron and voila!..you have a a pramette that is actually a decent alternative to a traditional carrycot, affording ample protection from any bumps or knocks.
I also thought the pramette configuration would have a lot of movement horizontally, i.e. wobble like a see-saw, but because of the large arches that mount the seat unit, it is stable.
To create the ultimate sleeping conditions, the large canopy creates a darkened environment that eliminates nearly all the light if the sun visor is flipped out.
Transforming from pramette back to seat is simply a matter of reversing the process of zipping, clipping and popping until you are back to where you started. The seat has a nicely upright stance at its highest setting and can be reclined to snooze or full sleep (this is all the way back to horizontal, the position you would use for the pramette). The recline button is sensibly positioned at the top of the back of the chair and has a fluid action.
The bumper bar is foam covered and gate opening or fully removable. I think the pramette looks better with it removed altogether but that is purely personal preference. Being of American pedigree, the Graco Symbio B canopy is huge and at full stretch, nearly touches the bumper bar.
Removing the seat is simply a matter of grabbing the frame either side from the front, in the process of squeezing to lift you trigger the release buttons and it comes away from the frame in one easy movement.
If you are still convinced that the pramette is not for you, the Graco Symbio Go is a large, cavernous, strong and comfortable carrycot that comes in black. It has an enormous carry handle that can be folded back to almost create a foam covered bull bar at the front of your pushchair. The mattress is the clever part of this carrycot. A built in dial at the front of the bed can be turned to elevate the head of the mattress allowing you to see more of your baby when they are awake and giving some relief to colicky babies.
The large canopy doesn’t have the same feel as that of the Symbio B chair, it is a lot more nylon to the touch. The top of the apron can button to the inside of the canopy to make an effective, protective wall against the elements.
The carrycot sits on the support arches of the frame in the same way as the seat, but is released by picking it off the frame at the same time as squeezing the release handle behind the canopy. It happens very naturally, incorporated in the motion of lifting it from the chassis.
The car seat adaptor is a cumbersome size compared to many, but clips into place as effortlessly as any of the other elements. Likewise, the seat clips onto the adaptor as soon as it is placed on top.
Like the carrycot, removing it is simply a matter of getting hold of the top and the bottom, squeezing the button under your fingers at the top as you lift.
The car seat itself is not the most attractive seat on the market, but it is well padded and has a 4 star ADAC rating as well as a WHICH? Best buy award.
The full footmuff is a luxury fleece topped with the matching black denim. The upper layer can be unzipped to leave a fleecy seat liner. As with the seat pad, it has choice of four positions for the shoulder straps.
The raincover Velcros neatly around the handle joint, leaves a little hole to allow access to the recline handle and with the hood fully extended, leaves ample room for your child. One segment can be peeled back to give ventilation or access without leaving your passenger too exposed.
The Graco Symbio B has reformed my aversion to pramettes. I have been very unimpressed by the flimsy, almost dangerous offerings I have seen before but the Symbio B is a really effective solution to a complete combination pushchair. This pramette is snug and cosy and has two covers to keep your baby warm and protected. The huge canopy contributes to the full protection and I love the fact that at full stretch it makes the cavity nice and dark for sleeping.
I love the Graco solution to connectivity. Mounting or removing your carrycot/chair or car seat is so incredibly smooth, it just makes sense! It is one of the best connection systems I have seen. It is accompanied by a wonderful recline action resulting in two of the things you are going to be performing every day, simple and easy.
The flip over handle is a great party trick and it would come in useful in restaurants or cafes, helping you to get the seat closer to the table. I’m not sure how many times I would actually push it with the larger wheels in front, being fixed not swivel, it makes it harder to push, practical only on rough ground.
The places where the Graco Symbio B loses points are: the basket; it’s far far too small, the handle; it’s not adjustable in height, and the fold lock; it should be automatic, instead it’s unnecessarily fiddly.
Overall, I am really impressed by the Graco Symbio B and I’m sure that with their new colours and fabrics we will be seeing more of this modernised American.