Product Type: LeapFrog Child Development
Newest Review: ... for a case etc. But I guess considering the prices of adult tablets its not too bad. First of all you will need a computer with internet ... more
One Leap At A Time
Leapfrog LeapPad2 Explorer Tablet
Member Name: arleek
Leapfrog LeapPad2 Explorer Tablet
Advantages: Easy to use, good range of games and apps
First impressions of the Leappad 2 were that it was compact (significantly smaller than the Innotab 2 but with the same screen size), nice to hold, and easy to navigate. As with all of these sorts of toys, set up was required before any sort of play could begin. So with it being a Christmas present, I didn't want to be spending Christmas Day attached to the computer trying to figure out how to get the thing going.
I remember having to download some software from the Leapfrog website onto the computer and then having to connect the Leappad 2 and sync it all together, and I seem to remember having some issues with this, and if I recall I had to uninstall and reinstall several times before I could get it to work. But after much frustration I did get it sorted and could then begin inputting my daughter's details - such as name, profile pic and age. You can also select an age range because I believe some of the games for the Leappad 2 have different levels relevant to the age of your child. You can have up to 4 profiles on the Leappad 2, so both my kids have their own profile set to their own age range.
Games and Apps
Once I had that sorted I started to have a browse around the Leappad 2 to see what was already on it, and this is quite impressive (better than the Innotab 2). You get PetPad which is a really simple game but both my kids love it, it's basically a pet that you can feed, wash and play with. There is also an Art Studio already on the tablet, which is also very good with various tools and techniques you can use, and again it's something which both my children enjoy using. And if I remember correctly I also had the opportunity to download a free app (but only from a limited selection).
I wanted to add a few more games to the Leappad 2 for my daughter before she opened it on Christmas day, and on browsing the downloadable apps and games, I realised that the selection was a lot more varied than that of the Innotab 2. I also noticed that the prices were pretty varied too, ranging from £2 to £20, but the price reflects how complex (or not) the game or app might be. So once I had realised the games were quite pricey, I had a look on Amazon for one of those App Centre Downloadable Game Cards, which are £15 full price, and act a bit like a gift card, giving you a code to download £15 worth of games. However, they are sometimes on offer, and I got one for less than £10, so I was able (once it had arrived through the post) to download £15 of games onto the Leappad 2 for less than £10. And although it seems like the games are expensive, they are far better value and much more visually appealing than the games for the Innotab 2. The other good thing about the Leapfrog brand is that a few familiar characters pop up every now and then, such as Violet and Scout and Tag. So when I saw the Violet and Scout game I downloaded it without a second thought, and it cost just £5.
With the Leappad 2 I was able to provide my daughter with a more varied selection of games, than I was with the Vtech Innotab 2. This is because it was possible to select a couple of basic and simple games which are relatively easy and provide 5 or 10 minutes of instant fun. But I was also able to download a couple more complex games which have an extended game play and are something that my daughter can go back to and carry on where she left off as the game progress is saved each time she plays.
So although I think I ended up spending more on the games for the Leappad 2 than I did for the Innotab 2, I do believe it was worth it because they provide much more enjoyment and variety for both my children and it is the Leappad 2 that they argue over more than the Innotab 2!
The games are more detailed and just generally better, whereas the Innotab 2 tended to focus more on the educational side of things a little bit too much and had perhaps a 'dated' feel to them, the Leappad 2 games tend to be educational but there is a lot more enjoyment around the education. For example one of the basic games I downloaded was Roly Poly, and you have to guide a worm or caterpillar (I've no idea what it is to be honest) using the motion of the Leappad 2 around a maze making sure you don't fall down any holes, and at the same time you are collecting letters and spelling words. My daughters love the fun element of this, and don't even realise they are picking up letters along the way. This is especially beneficial to my 4 year old who will be starting school in September.
We also have 1 cartridge game for the Leappad 2 which I believe you can also download from the website for £20, and the cartridge retails at £19.99 but can sometimes be found on offer. My daughter enjoys this game, but from what I have gathered, both my kids have had plenty of enjoyment from just the downloadable games, without the need for purchasing additional cartridges.
With there being such a massive range of things you can download for the Leappad 2 from the Leapfrog website, there is no real need for purchasing cartridges (which let's be honest will more than likely go missing anyway!). I had not actually realised until today how extensive the range of downloadable apps for the Leappad 2 is. Not only can you download games, but you can purchase ebooks, videos, creative apps, music, flashcards, short clips from your favourite tv character shows....and there is something which fits into each price range, so although you can pay up to £20 for a single app, you can also pay as little as £2.
Both of my children were able to use the Leappad 2 straight away without needing any real help from me, the menus are really easy to navigate and everything they need is available on the home screen, there's no hunting for a particular app through different menus, everything you download you can see in front of you. The stylus is easy to hold and use, and is attached to the Leappad 2 with a piece of string, so it will never go missing! There doesn't seem to be any delay or lag when you are waiting for games to load, and when you turn the Leappad 2 on, it is ready to go within a few seconds (unlike the Innotab 2 which takes significantly longer). The screen is also very responsive so game play is not interrupted by a frustrated child jabbing at it over and over again. The colours on the screen are bright and colourful, and the camera seems pretty good too, although it does not have the quality of your average digital camera! Also, this belongs to my younger daughter, who, let's say, isn't the most ladylike and delicate of creatures, so it has been dropped, dribbled on, caked with food, left on the floor, stood on...the list is endless...and on inspection it has survived! I haven't even (much to my husband's disappointment) put a screen protector on and the screen is fine.
There is also (as with the Innotab 2) an online learning path where you can gauge your child's progress and it tells you how they are doing with particular areas of learning. I have looked at this once but I don't feel it is useful because I know how well my child is learning through everyday play, so I don't need an electronic device to tell me how clever they are.
As with the Innotab 2, I'd heard that the Leappad 2 was rubbish with battery life. It requires 4 x AA batteries, which do not come supplied with the unit, but I do believe now that you can actually purchase a charger pack with batteries designed specifically for the Leappad 2, and allows you to play whilst charging, but again this is an additional cost (at the moment the pack is £29.99 on Amazon). I'm not entirely with the brigade of people who say that this charging unit is an essential purchase, because there is no real need for a child who has been playing on the Leappad 2 long enough to wear the batteries out, to continue to play whilst it is charging up.
As with the Innotab 2 I have not had an issue with the battery life of the Leappad 2. We purchased a pack of rechargeable AA batteries and charger, and this has been adequate for us. My kids don't play on the Leappad 2 constantly, so the batteries can last for a very long time, and I have not had to charge up any batteries for weeks now. Yes if your child plays on the Leappad 2 for many hours at a time, then you can expect it to need charging up regularly, but if your child likes to do other things such as play with toys and draw pictures, then the battery life will not cause you any problems.
I have been really pleased with the Leappad 2, especially when you compare it to the Vtech Innotab 2. Although moneywise it seems more expensive, with the initial cost being anywhere up to £90, and then the additional games, batteries, charger, case (I made my own), you could possibly be looking at a total spend of nearly £200, which does seem a bit excessive for a child's toy. But I would much rather my children have one of these which I can control, than let them borrow my phone or Google Nexus and then accidently download some rubbish from the internet, or hack my Facebook account! And this way they are playing on things suited to their age range and remaining children for as long as possible.
If you are considering buying an electronic tablet for your child, I would definitely recommend the Leappad 2. It is fun, easy to use, looks modern and feels nice to hold, the variety of the games & apps is massive and suits a good age range. Some of the games are suitable for very young children, but there are games which suit a much older child as well, so I think this is going to be part of my daughter's life for a good few years (until the next gadget comes out anyway!). The range in prices of the apps is also impressive because there is something to suit every budget.
I suppose the only downside to the Leappad is that you cannot expand the memory, it comes with 4GB of memory (I've no idea what that means) which has been perfectly adequate for my daughter's needs, but some people may find this limiting.
Oh and one last thing which may annoy some people but doesn't particularly bother me, some of the games have american style voices.
Currently available on Amazon for £72.99 (in green) and £73.49 (in pink). Prices correct March 2013.
Summary: Great tablet for young children
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