VTech and Leapfrog have cornered the children's market with multi media educational learning tools. The functionality of a tablet that contains reading through interactive animated stories, writing and art, music and mathematics plus game cartridges that lean towards subconscious learning is a big plus for both machines. It might even mean that adults can retain their IPads and MP3 players before their kids discover the real thing.
Innotab 2 New Features
VTech's Innotab was perhaps pipped at the post by its rival last Christmas because of a number of reasons, both cosmetic and more fundamental. Its new look is less grey than the original, the white styling being more appealing to the eye at first glance. More centrally, the Innotab 2 boasts a digital photo/video camera which rotates to catch front and back shots. Given that even the "old" LeapPad had a back facing camera, this new addition is very welcome. The success of the Kiddizoom is testament to how kids love taking creative photos.
The Innotab 2 now has a built-in microphone which can also be utilised for a range of new games apps and the online world will also seem more real with the camera making gameplay more interactive on the tablet. VTech are looking to build in Wi-Fi in time for Christmas which will ensure no annoying connections via a PC for all of the apps and games that can be downloaded. Some of these games will be very popular, such as Pixar's Brave, Hello Kitty and a Thomas and Friends cartridge. Vtech are also buying into more TV license and music content to increase the range.
LeapPad Explorer 2 Changes Are More Subtle
The LeapPad Explorer 2 has changes that are perhaps less striking to the eye. The front facing camera is now added to the back with an increased resolution and the on-board memory has been increased twofold with a faster processor. Although there is no additional memory card, the sheer range of Leapfrog software - there are over 300 games and apps - are a big plus point.
The new LeapPad perhaps needed less change by definition, given the success of the original. However, the new version comes with an improved battery life and there is also an additional, optional purchase of a recharger pack. If there is one gripe with both machines, it is the battery drainage. The Innotab eats up alkaline batteries like there is no tomorrow.
Both new versions of the tablet have now redefined the age range from four to nine years of age to three to nine. Most children at the top of that range witll probably find the tablet too toy-like but the new definition means that both products are certainly more robust.
Both the LeapPad Explorer 2 and the Innotab 2 are worthy upgrades albeit at a bigger budget of between £85-90.