Hit in 2011 - New Model in 2012
In Christmas 2011 the original LeapPad sold out everywhere. Millions of children were given the LeapFrog made devices and the reviews were good. It is now 2012 though and with the VTech InnoTab 2 newly released the LeapFrog team have done the same and released new PC tablets for kids with the LeapFrog LeapPad 2.
It is going to be another big year as it faces it's old rival in the shopping wars of Christmas windows and Santa lists.
Credit: LeapFrogIf you already have the original LeapPad then you will know most of the great features. I think it is unfortunate that LeapFrog have not really updated the new device enough to warrant the millions of children that already have one to need an upgrade like the VTech InnoTab kids tablet but there is enough there for new LeapPad children to feel like they have the latest pc tablet!
- Camera A pair of front and rear facing 2MP cameras give your child the chance to take pictures of themselves or the outside world. Video recording is also available on these tablets.
- Motion Sensors Just like you can tilt your tablet to do something so can the kids on their LeapPad. This tablet also supports screen rotation based on it's G-Sensor.
- PC Connections Setting up the LeapPad and monitoring your childs progress is as easy as plugging it into the USB of your computer.
- Memory Although the LeapPad 2 does not come with any kind of memory card slot it does have 4GB of on board memory, which should be enough to cope with the needs of a child and larger than most of it's direct competitors.
- MP3 Storage Although there is a small one off cost for the update, the LeapPad 2 now supports MP3 music as well, which you can upload from your computer to the tablet device.
If we were looking at an adult tablet then of course these specs would not look so impressive, but on pc tablets for kids they are not bad and suitable for the job.
Power to the LeapFrog tablet is either from batteries, mains or a rechargable power pack that are all sold seperately. Like many of the other childrens tablets the power packs are almost as expensive as the devices themselves, so you need to shop around for them.
Learning and Development
The big thing about childrens tablets is that they are designed to be educational as well as a toy and the LeapPad 2 Explorer mixes and matches this quite well. New games and applications can be added to the device either using cartridges or by downloading to the tablet; the latter though does mean having to connect the LeapPad 2 to a computer using the USB tether. You have to remember as well that there is no SD Card slot here so everything that needs installing has to be to the on-board memory.
Credit: LeapFrogLeapFrog have a range of games based on the usual familiar characters so we have Pixar and Disney offerings. Most of the games offer a wide range of learning as part of it's development for your child and parents can follow online with the LeapFrog Learning Path which will have been downloaded and installed to set up the LeapPad 2 when it first comes out of the box.
I think that there is a heavy presense from Disney on the LeapPad 2; e-books, Disney Animation Artist and Cartoon Creativity makes me think more of Walt's company than anything else. This will be great for market share because one of the big downsides of the LeapPad 2 is that you can not upload your own videos or films to the device; somewhat disappointingly considering that this is a great device for the car or trip out.
Cartridges that work on the LeapPad 2 Explorer cost up to £20 and can be bought in most supermarkets and online easily. The online downloadable apps (using your USB tether) generally cost less than £10 so they are not cheap, but at the same time you can use the LeapFrog Learning Path to make sure that they are using the apps and games that you have already bought for them.
Be Aware Though if you are going to be using the LeapFrog store to buy your expansion apps and games you have the option to store your credit card details for future purchases. If you are going to do this then make sure your children do not find out - things can turn very expensive, very quickly.
Credit: LeapFrogLeapFrog claim that the age range for their LeapPad 2 Explorer is between 3 and 9 years old but I wonder - as I did with the VTech InnoTab - whether a 9 year old is going to be more towards a cut down adult tablet than something that looks more child-like.
There are many children out there that are being given 7-inch tablets instead of something like this. The question is though whether they still have access to the full Internet, something that many parents would probably be worried about. The older children might also find the lack of uploading difficult to cope with as well; not being able to upload videos they already own might lead to them wanting to move upwards before you are ready.
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LeapFrog LeapPad 2 Not For You?
If the LeapFrog LeapPad 2 Explorer is not for you then a few alternatives to think about. The VTech InnoTab 2 is an alternative that has battled with LeapFrog for a few years, you could also consider a 7 inch tablet for your children but with a few more child-friendly apps installed to make things more secure.
The Oregon Scientific MEEP! is another example of a tablet computer for kids as well; although it is nearly half as expensive as the LeapPad 2 and the InnoTab 2. If is an Android Ice Cream Sandwich based tablet that has been developed for that transitional period between a kids tablet computer and an adule tablet computer.
The LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Tablet though is a great tablet for your children from 3 years upwards. It only comes in green or pink, so it will obviously not be as sleek or mysterious as your iPad or Galaxy Nexus, but it might help your children to stop stealing it while your not looking.