Review: LeapPad Explorer PDF Print E-mail

The box proclaims that it is meant for the 4- to 9-year old set, but from the moment my just-turned-three-years old niece got her hands on it, she was completely enchanted and absorbed by it.

LeapFrog’s tablet PC offering for kiddies, the LeapPad Explorer, is friendly right from the get-go. Once you have inserted the four AA batteries – which are not included – your child can start playing right out of the box. That is because the LeapPad does have some apps, such as the Pet Writing, pre-installed. Simply elect to set up the device later and proceed to the home screen, from where your little user can begin by setting up a profile and start playing, take photos and even shoot videos with the built-in camera, video recorder and microphone.

The LeapPad, which is now available to consumers in South Africa just in time for the holiday shopping season, is a tablet that aims to ‘edutain’ (meaning entertain them while simultaneously educating them on the sly) kids via interactive games and apps that will teach them anything from vocabulary, reading, writing, to helping them master life skills (such as how to brush their teeth) and fine motor skill development. The device is light-weight and small to be comfortably carried around and handled by little hands, yet sturdy enough to withstand rough handling and drops.

The LeapPad has two GB of internal storage, an accelerometer that allows players to tilt the device to direct some action during games (such as making bugs move in a certain direction); a five inch, colour touchscreen with 480 x 272 resolution that can work in both portrait and landscape mode; a stylus – with the folks at LeapFrong having the wisdom and foresight of including a spare – an install CD containing the Story Studio and Art Studio apps, plus a free app download; and a USB cable.

It has volume control buttons (a larger one indicating volume up) a headphone socket, navigational buttons for up, down, left and right and a Home button for easy, intuitive navigation. Our only beef with the controls is that LeapFrog did away with the Help/Assist button that is on the Leapster Explorer’s handheld gaming console.

However, a nice touch is the fact that Leapster Explorer game cartridges and apps are cross compatible with the LeapPad, so no need to shell out the average of R250 for new games if your kid has had a Leapster.
The LeapPad Explorer is available from DionWired stores nationwide for R1 199.

Pros

It is genuinely so easy to use, my sister only had to show my niece once before she was deftly handling the device on her own, playing games and creating art. The games and apps are cute and parents can monitor their learning progress. Exhibitionis parents can share some of their little prodigies’ works of art and stories online via Facebook and e-mail.

Cons

A definite drawback is the fact that it contains no built-in battery that can be recharged via USB. The four AA batteries were drained after two days of non-continuous play. On the upside, this is good for people who are off the beaten track, where electricity might not be readily available, or for those camping trips and car rides. Just don’t run out of batteries! And invest in rechargeables, otherwise it could cost you…

Rating out of ten

Eight.
 


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