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Review of LeapFrog's LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

LeapFrog LeapPad Puts Tots in Control of Their Own Learning Tablets

Moms may soon regain control of their iPads. The tech toy from Apple that is filled with mama's cooking, organizing, and entertaining apps somehow worked its way into lots of lil ones' hands, and many moms are having a hard time prying it away.

That should all change next week when LeapFrog starts shipping out its new LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet ($100). A tablet engineered just for kids, the LeapPad takes all of the technology introduced on last year's Leapster Explorer (including an ereader that adjusts to tots' learning levels, letter and number writing skills, and a high-resolution touchscreen) and adds exciting new functions like a tilt-sensor (just like the iPad), an enhanced ereader with a visual dictionary and games embedded within the books, a larger (five-inch) screen, and a built-in camera. The company sent us a tablet to try out, see what we thought below.

Who is this product designed for? The manufacturer suggests that the tablet is for tots ages 4 to 9 years old (and it can be customized for up to three kids), but a preschooler could navigate his way around it, too.


What sets it apart? With a five-inch 480-x-272 pixel (16 x 9) touchscreen, the LeapPad offers kids plenty of space to read, draw, write, or view their activities. Given the educational basis behind all of LeapFrog's products, the learning apps included with the system are brought to life on it. The new Ultra eBooks not only reads stories to kids, but should tykes select individual words, the system sounds them out. Portions of books are animated and games are built into them as well. A built-in camera and video recorder can be used on their own or in conjunction with other apps to create storybooks and videos that can be shared once the tablet is connected to a computer. And the accelerometer transforms the tablet into a gaming console, allowing for motion-based activities. Like other LeapFrog products, the Explorer connects to the online Learning Path, allowing parents to track their tots' progress and identify areas requiring additional support. When connected to the computer, artwork, photos, and videos created by kids can also be shared with family and friends through Facebook and email.

What could be better? Kids used to tooling around with their parents' gadgets will have to get used to a slower unit. The 400MHz processor doesn't allow apps to load as quickly as they may be used to. Also, with no WiFi, tots will have to forgo playing Angry Birds and the like, in favor of the more educational apps created by LeapFrog (which could be a very good thing!). The cost may set some families off as well. While the tablet costs $100 and comes with four free apps — Art Studio, Story Studio, Pet Pad, and one of your choice — the 100 additional apps that will be available later this year will cost between $5 to $20, making it a pricey investment. On the plus side, all games and cartridges parents bought for the Explorer are compatible with the LeapPad.

Keep reading to see how long the laptop entertains a youngster and for more views of the device.

How long did it entertain my child? Hours! After first asking where he could find Angry Birds on the unit, he easily maneuvered his way around the included apps like a master. He watched the full Letter Factory video that the company preinstalled on the unit and loved the Cars2Ultra eBook, having just seen the movie. In fact, I had to turn the tablet off to get him into bed.

Would I buy it? Yes! Less expensive (and more tot friendly with its rough and tumble packaging) than an iPad, it has everything I would want in a learning tablet. While the additional games and apps are expensive, the basic package includes plenty of activities to keep lil ones excited and entertained for a while, and they are less expensive than buying new video games for a Wii or other gaming system. I also love that it can store 120 minutes of video and 30,000 pictures, meaning we don't have to bring an extra camera with us on vacation.

Share your favorite products, toys, and trends with other parents! Start sharing your opinion on millions of must-haves for your tots in our Product Reviews group!




arik1982 arik1982 5 years
I love this post super cool!
mikiboy mikiboy 6 years
Heads up for anyone searching for the new leappad explorer: Target online has them in stock now. Just ordered mine!!!! Free shipping, so no different than buying it in the store, but more convenient if you ask me! Good luck in your hunt!
rhoadsj17 rhoadsj17 6 years
@TV-tastic, I can see your point and it is a valid one! however what I love the most about the Leap Frog products is that they are durable. We bought the leap frog explorer for my oldest and now my youngest uses it, it has been thrown to the floor numerous times yet still works. I am afraid if I buy my boys an actual tablet then once it gets thrown to the ground it is never going to work again. With the wi-fi I am glad that it does not have wi-fi bc I have caught both my boys acccidentally surfing the internet on my IPod and the IPhone. I dont want them getting into something they should not have at the ages of 4 and 2. There are draw backs to the product but like with anything you have to weigh the pros/cons! I think this is a great product for kids and will keep their hands off my Ipod!
TV-Tastic TV-Tastic 6 years
Settle down, there. This (like most Leap Frog products) is a phenomenal waste of money for the lack of WiFi alone (not to mention the $5 - $20 apps). I't's obvious that the folks at Leap Frog are trying to fool you all into believing that this is a cost-effective alternative to a tablet PC... and that there is only ONE tablet PC: the iPad. Sorry folks, but there are plenty of tablet PC options out there between $100 - $200 that run Android and have complete access to the Android App Store and their selection of FREE and low-cost apps. I'm an iPad owner and tech enthusiast myself but I would never recommend this vastly inferior product (actual value for its features: $25 - $50, at best) when you'd be doing far better by going with a low-cost Android tablet. There's also the reality that this product is a decade too late for this generation. You've said it yourself: parents have a hard time prying the iPads out of their toddlers' hands. Well, why is that? It's because the kids know how to use them completely and if you have a vast array of low-priced and free apps for kids, you don't need a device like this Leap Frog unit that dumbs it down for them. The kids figure out how to use these things on their own. My kids have been using laptops, iPhones and iPads since they were two years old. They don't need an "iPad for Dummies" and they will easily be bored by it just like they are with every other ridiculously overpriced Leap Frog product that makes its way into my house. My four year-old explained to me the concept of "tethering" a couple of months ago. I think its safe to say that she knows more about computers and digital technology than probably the people that created this dopey thing. Don't be suckered by the hype and waste your money on this. It's like throwing a $100 bill into the bottom of a toy box.
Rebecca-M-Gruber Rebecca-M-Gruber 6 years
@rhoadsj it does appear to be sold out everywhere, but Toys R Us is accepting pre-orders online and says it will ship out next week (which isn't too long to wait)!
rhoadsj17 rhoadsj17 6 years
Where did you find the tablet? I have been calling all the Targets, WalMarts, and Toys R Us' in my area and cannot find one!
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