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Leapfrog LeapPad2 Explorer Tablet Review

An updated version of the original tablet for kids

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

LeapFrog LeapPad 2

LeapFrog LeapPad 2

LeapFrog/PriceGrabber
Last year, LeapFrog introduced the LeapPad Explorer Tablet, a hand-held device that could be loaded with educational apps and games designed solely for children (no more handing your iPad over to your little one!). This year LeapFrog has updated the unit, doubling the memory, adding a bigger battery and a dual-sided camera, as well as increasing the number of apps and games available.

Features of the LeapFrog LeapPad2

  • Touch screen
  • 325+ game cartridges & downloadable apps (Five apps included. All additional games and apps sold separately)
  • Front-and-back cameras and video recorders
  • Leveled reading experiences
  • 4GB of memory
  • Available in pink, green or in a Disney Princess bundle
  • Access to the LeapFrog Learning Path
  • Uses rechargeable batteries
  • Suggested retail price is $99, $129 for the Disney Princess bundle
  • Geared at kids ages 3-9.

LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Tablet Overview

Out of the box, the LeapPad 2 looks pretty similar to its predecessor -- rectangular in shape, available in green (the original came in white), pink or as a Disney Princess bundle (which does cost $30 more). It's very durable looking and the size is just right for little-kid hands. There is a camera in both the front and the back of the unit and the pictures that your child takes can be used in some of the apps. If you have a LeapPad, any of the games you purchased for it can be loaded on to the new until which is great. The LeapPad2 has a music player and some games already installed, plus you get to pick an app once you connect to the LeapFrog Learning Path.

The Learning Path is just one of the great features of the LeapPad2 -- connect the unit vis USB (the unit is not equipped with wireless) and you'll be able to not just purchase new apps, but see what your child has been playing and where they need a little help with something.

Apps, movies and games vary by age -- from three to nine. The games can be pricey but they are all educational and offer strong content. Depending on the game, some "auto-level," meaning that the game adjusts to your child's play and answers. And ike the first LeapPad, I felt like the tablet is "intuitive" to the user -- it's easy to learn to use which is important when you have kids that have never used this type of technology before.

Differences Between the LeapPad and the LeapPad2

While the same in many ways, there are a good number of differences between the LeapPad2 and it's older sibling, the LeapPad. Some of the more notable ones include:

  • It is quite faster. Load games side by side and the LeapPad2 is much quicker.
  • The resolution appears to be much clearer.
  • The front and back camera is a lot of fun.
  • The battery covers are much better. I was always struggled with getting the batteries in and out of their case. No more with the LeapPad2.
  • There is only one stylus and it comes already connected. If your child is a lefty, you can detach it and move it to the left side.
  • Longer battery life.
  • Compatible with games previously purchased for the original LeapPad and Leapster.
  • New apps include cartoon creativity, art studio and pet pad, as well as over 325 more to choose from.
  • There is content specifically created for three year olds -- the original LeapPad worked for younger children but was more geared at kids ages four and up.

Guide Review

I was a fan of the first LeapPad but definitely saw room for improvement as my son played with it over the past few months. Happily, LeapFrog seemed to have listened to parents and made a lot of positive changes. While my son has been known to make off with our iPad, I like that he can have a device he can call his own and operate it at his own skill level. Because he is so young and because there are so many games available I really feel like this will grow with him.

From the second I started to play with the tablet I was impressed with the speed. My son has the original LeapPad and I definitely noticed a difference between the two. In terms of battery life, I also saw improvement. A lot of people often complained that the batteries on the first LeapPad lost their life quickly. I got about another hour out of our batteries (a rechargeable battery pack from LeapFrog is also available). I also found that the battery covers were also a lot easier to change. As with the first, the tablet is very durable -- we dropped it a few times and saw nary a nick.

The LeapPad 2 itself is easy to work -- my son had it figured out almost instantaneously. We were both pleased with the variety of games offered, especially for younger kids. They vary by character, theme, lessons and age. We especially liked the Cartoon Creativity App that came preloaded onto the unit. You take pictures with the camera and can then animate them. What fun for my son to take a picture of his sister and then to give her a mustache!

Overall I'm pleased with the LeapPad2 and think especially if your child is under five, it's a good investment.

Note: Don't think you are going to open the box, configure the LeapPad2 and put it back in the box to wrap as a gift. The box can't be opened without cutting or tearing it.

Want the LeapPad2 but don't know where to find it? Get some shopping tips: How to Find Popular Toys. Wondering what is hot this holiday season? Check out Top Toys for 2012.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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