If you’re looking for an interactive, entertaining yet educational toy for kids aged 4 to 9 years of age, then LeapFrog has something for you. The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet retails for around $149 and there is a library of over 100 cartridge games, applications, digital books, videos and flash cards that can be loaded onto the device.
The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is very user-friendly. It has a sleek design for easy transport and storage, however, it is sturdy and durable enough to withstand the type of wear and tear that you would expect a child of that age to dole out. The device is designed to be flipped, shaken and turned about without damage.
A tilt sensor is built into the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning tablet, allowing kids to be in the middle of all the action. The screen measures 5 inches and is in color. A built-in camera allows your child to be creative, allowing he or she to produce videos, photos, and original artwork. Voice guided instructions will tell your children how to edit their photos and artwork as well as share their creations with friends and family. The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer has 2 GB of memory built in to the device, allowing your child to store their creations.
One of the really neat aspects of the camera feature is that it allows children to become the characters within the stories they create. In the Story and Art Studio application, children have the ability to change the photos they take and drop them into a storybook. The applications needed to do this are both free and are available for download after the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is registered.
LeapPad offers eBooks that are interactive as well as cinematic that can encourage children to explore the joys of reading. When you download an eBook, you actually receive three books in one, each with a different reading level. These levels adjust automatically as your child perfects their reading skills. These eBooks are not only fun, they build your child’s comprehension skills and expand their vocabulary. Children can touch a word to see a picture of what it is, and likewise touch an image to see the word that it matches. They can also hear words sounded out just by touching them.
The Learning Path is an online tool that allows you to track your child’s learning. You can see their recent achievements and learn about their progress through regular e-mail updates. These emails can also give you insight into which areas your child may need additional help with, allowing you to initiate activities that can strengthen your child’s weak areas.
When you register your LeapPad Tablet, you get three free applications and access to all of the online tools. These tools give you insight into your child’s learning process and allow you to see you child’s photos and artwork. It takes about 20 minutes to register the Tablet and download the applications. Each LeapFrog LeapPad comes with a stylus, four applications (Pet Pad, Story Studio, Art Studio and one of your choice), extra stylus with tether, USB cable, installation CD, quick-start guide and instruction manual.
User Reviews: Pros
Parents love the fact that the LeapPad works with other Leapster Explorer games and applications, meaning each particular activity is not limited to just one specific device. If you have multiple children this helps to cut down on the cost of downloads. Cartridges can also be shared between devices.
Art Studio is a popular application, and parents really like that it is included with the LeapPad. The camera is a nice built-in feature, but it is lower resolution that regular cameras. Some parents have reported that their children are disappointed with the quality of the images that the camera takes. In any event, the camera and Art Studio offer a great outlet for creativity.
Overall, parents tend to like the LeapPad because it keeps their kids entertained, is durable, and all the games are built with learning in mind.
User Reviews: Cons
As with any electronic device, it can break if it is misused or mistreated. Many users have recommended the LeapPad Case to keep it protected when it is not in use. The LeapPad Gel Skin creates a barrier between your child and the device that can protect it while it is being used. Headphones are also a good add-on if your child plays the LeapPad while you are in a public space or while traveling. Unfortunately, all of these extras are sold separately.
Downloadable games and applications are all an extra expense, and some do not offer a good value for the price. One user complained that after spending $7.50 on a train game her daughter beat it in just 20 minutes. The system can be slow, and the batteries get used up quickly. You will need to keep AA batteries in stock, and if your child plays the device frequently you will need to keep replacing them, which is another additional expense.