The Kala MK-SD/PW Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano is a popular choice for beginners given the relatively low cost and overall good reviews. You can also get it as a bundle with a case, instructional DVD, tuner, and polishing cloth here, which would make a great gift.
Potential purchasers may be confused by reviewers’ descriptions of the Dolphin as plastic, compared to the manufacturer’s description of “agathis wood” – both of these are true, with the face of the Dolphin made of laminated wood, and the back and sides made of plastic. It comes in a range of fun bright colors (sunburst red is pictured) as well as black and white.
The majority of reviewers have commented that the Dolphin pretty sturdy and can survive some abuse, making it a great gift for kids or for use in schools. Most buyers are pleased with the tone and ability to stay in tune, though some comment that they’ve preferred to change the strings – this seems to be related to whether the ukulele has arrived with Aquila strings already on or not. Amongst less-pleased reviewers, the main complaint seems to be that the quality of the instrument received can be variable, with some arriving cracked or breaking very quickly.