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LeapPad 2 Explorer: Software and Verdict

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

LeapPad 2 Explorer: Software

The LeapPad runs on its own OS, and it’s very bright, very colourful and very simple. Each child using the device has their own profile, and once you select that profile you’re presented with several pages of apps, all represented by a chunky icon.

With no onboard WiFi there’s no way to install apps on the LeapPad 2 itself, and it’s up to parents to browse, purchase, download and synchronise apps using the downloadable Leapfrog Connect software (with Windows and Mac versions available). There’s a fairly extensive range of apps, videos and music downloads and eBooks available, though there’s a lot of variation in the pricing. eBooks, for example, tend to hit at the £3.50 to £5 mark, with music collections prices at £7.50. Creativity apps also sit around the £5 to £7.50 mark, but games can be anywhere between £3.50 and £20 for titles that – frankly – would be £3.99 apps on Android or iOS.

Leappad 2

LeapPad 2 Explorer: Apps

Our sample 6-year-old loved a lot of our sample apps. We had moments of frustration with the Cartoon Director app, but loved the way you could create simple scenes, add scenes and faces from photos or record our own dialogue. The Pet Pad virtual pet app went down a storm, even though it’s a fairly simple pet sim with some bolt-on educational elements, and Stretchy Monkey – a game where you drag the titular simian around the screen – was another big hit. The built-in camera and image-editing apps work well, and frequently gruesome results can be uploaded to a gallery on the PC, where they can also be printed or emailed.

Leappad 2

Children’s eBooks were also popular – particularly the Disney ones – though everyone agreed that they weren’t as well presented or feature-rich as those we’d already looked at on the iPad. The best thing about the LeapPad 2 apps is that they actively encourage creativity, numeracy and literacy, and that many tie in to a Learning Path section of the Leapfrog Connect software, where you can track your child’s progress through the various apps.

Leappad 2

LeapPad 2 Explorer: Creeping Doubts

There are some things we didn’t like, however. The majority of the apps we tried are clearly American and tailored to an American market, and the ‘Hey, Wow!’ voices will grate on your nerves as much as the references to baseball and thanksgiving will baffle your offspring. We also didn’t come away feeling that the software stretches across a particularly large age range. Even going in in the guise of an older child, we were hit by how basic so many of the literacy and numeracy tasks are – and even our six-year-old didn’t feel stretched much of the time. While your mileage will vary depending on the apps you download, you could find your children losing interest once they hit seven or so, leaving you wishing that you’d bought a grown-up tablet after all.

And this is where doubts start creeping in. Five to seven year-old kids will love the LeapPad and many of its apps, and at the sub £70 price point it’s not hideously expensive. Start buying apps, games and eBooks, however, and the overall cost soon mounts up, and we can’t help suspecting that you’d still be getting mileage from – say – a Nexus 7 or a Kindle Fire when the LeapPad 2 was gathering dust in two year’s time.

Of course, these devices don’t have the LeapPad 2’s ease of use, robust built quality or built-in child safety. We wouldn’t recommend leaving a normal tablet with your kids unsupervised, particularly with a live Internet connection. Yet with even budget tablets offering great screens, some fantastic child-friendly games and education apps and better video playback, you wonder if they’d make a better long-term investment – and one the whole family can share. You’ll save money on the apps and games in the long-term, and have access to a larger ecosystem of books and video content. You’ll have to supervise and manage them more carefully, but you’ll get something that stretches further as your child grows up.

Leappad 2

Verdict

If you’re looking for a high-tech gadget for your early primary kids, then the LeapPad 2 Explorer has a lot to recommend it. It’s cheap, well child-proofed and supported by some strong apps. You might find yourself put-off by the performance, camera quality and dinky low-resolution screen, but it’s unlikely that your offspring will be bothered. Most of all, kids of the right age will love it. It’s fun, they can use it relatively unsupervised and they won’t have to share it with you. That said, you have to wonder: with cheaper apps, better hardware and access to more books and video, wouldn’t a grown-up tablet be a better long-term bet?

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 7
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Screen Quality 6
  • Value 9

D B

January 25, 2013, 12:40 am

I bought the tinkerbell math app at $30 (!!). The trailer looked great. It said the age was 5 to 8, yet it expects the player to read instructions. When my kids complained (ages 6 and 7), I tried playing it myself and it is ridiculously confusing. DO NOT BUY THIS. I then complained to Leappad, and they said their policy is no refund on purchased apps. I am not buying apps again - they are expensive apps, and if you get tricked into buying a app by a good trailer, you can't get a refund. terrible policy.

Guest

April 7, 2013, 10:02 pm

just spent the last 2 hours reinstalling all the apps,pad would not turn on anymore and had to be 'tuned', what a bunch of rubbish

Jandi

May 19, 2013, 7:33 pm

I accidentally bought a game twice and when i called customer service, they kept acting like they didn't know what I was talking about. I let them know that I already had an app game a few months before from their website which was listed in my acct on their website and it was evident because it was on my account twice and I asked if I could get a different game since it was showing that I had the same game twice and they even acknowledged that I had the game twice from when I first bought the leappad 2 and they said they would get back to me and in their response they kept saying that I wasn't charged twice. I clearly let them know that I know I was not double charged but that I re- bought a game I already had by accident and asked if I could exchange it for another app which I could download(it's not like they had to send me something, everything was downloadable apps) since I don't need the same game twice and they kept sending back emails, playing like they were dumb and couldn't understand my question, but I didn't complain anymore. I just will never buy another game again. They lost me as a customer. Yes, I understand that it was my fault for purchasing the same game twice, but I didn't like the whole acting like they couldn't understand my question, I was planning on buying a bunch more games, but not now, I will just buy a new game system from another company. I'm sure they have a lot of customers and won't miss me, but oh well I will feel better knowing they won't have my money anymore.

mia

September 15, 2013, 2:33 am

I believe that Leap frog should really change their age span for this product. That, or to make the system more durable for little fingers. My son has had 3 three pads; all due to the screen being cracked!!!!! It does not take much 'force" to crack the screen.

The Great Debator

October 9, 2013, 10:03 am

People are buying these for children as young as 3 and 4, they are ignorant of the fact that prolonged exposer to loW level microwave transmitters (wifi devices) can have long term health effects on very young children. Just google Barrie Trower, he was a microwave scientist for the MOD.

Stoddy.

October 27, 2013, 3:45 pm

Cant see this myself. Also who's to say Barrie Trower is correct. i have a friend who is a doctor but that does not mean he knows whats best for someones illness!

Stoddy.

October 27, 2013, 3:48 pm

The only down side i find to this product is the battery life and the price of the Apps. if i was to rate this product i'd be giving it a 1/10 and overall quite rubbish.

Loufoggy

November 8, 2013, 12:57 pm

I was skeptical about purchasing these for my 3 and 5 year old but my husband convinced me anyway. My concern was whether they would keep my children's attention as they are used to my iPad. Also I was aware that the games are a little on the pricey side.
However my skepticism was short lived. My kids absolutely love them. They are so customisable. There are so many apps for them and not all are on the higher priced side. I love getting new apps for the them and watching them learn and interact. They are a fabulous gift.
They are sturdy and easy to use, it's brilliant. Definitely one of the best toys we have bought them, and it keeps them off my iPad.

Jules

November 16, 2013, 2:11 pm

Leap Pad isn't wifi

Evan

November 17, 2013, 4:09 pm

That's right only the top of the range leapad2 ultra is

Waboolio

November 19, 2013, 11:06 pm

Just gotta put on the tin foil hat and you're good

Weebec

December 8, 2013, 5:55 am

Unfortunately, Leap Frog is not longer our educational system of choice. Three days ago my 4 year old daughter's Leappad2 stopped turning on. We purchased this product in April (2013). I called the customer service, and was informed of the hoops I would have to jump through in order for them to send me another. I informed them it was now 3 weeks until Christmas, and by the time I completed all of the requirement Christmas would be over, including my daughter receiving new games for a Leappad 2 she couldn't use. They informed me they would attempt to get approval for another Leappad 2 without having to go through all the steps, and this would take about 24-48 hours. We have yet to hear from them now 4 days later. For a product that is totally, 100% child friendly, the customer service surely is not geared towards making the child happy! I now have a 4 year old who asks for her "game" every day, and having to tell her it is broken only after 8 months, is simply pitiful!! I would never recommend another Leap Frog product to any of my friends or family....EVER again!!!

Orinda M Woo

January 22, 2014, 8:52 am

I purchased a leap pad2 for my granddaughter in February 2013 for her birthday...bought the battery pack/ac adapter unit, case, hard copy game, head phones and several applications from their store to download, etc. spending a total of 428.80 give or take a few dollars here and there. Well she started using the product in March after I set it up and by the end of June the unit was no longer charging. Seeing we were away, could not deal with the situation until we returned home In August/September. I got a replacement battery pack/ac adapter from the original store (thinking this would be the best route to go seeing its made for leappad 2 and who wants to spend all that money on batteries) and the store replaced the unit and it didnt charge the leappad 2 ...I got in contact with customer service and they sent me a new leap pad 2 and chargeable batteries, that one did not work so they had me purchase alkaline batteries to see if it was the unit or the charger...well it was the battery pack not getting a charge, so they told me they would email me a shipping label to print...so I went out purchased ink for my printer...the label did not arrive in my email so I contacted them after a week of waiting and they stated they would send me another leap pad 2 and battery pack/adapter...now we are talking November/December...finally I received another leap pad 2 and charging unit and I am monitoring the charging unit and the leap pad2 hoping this would work this time, and after 4 hrs 15 mins the light goes off and I believed its fully charged...I was so excited that maybe she had a unit that was portable again so I went ahead and purchased 8 more apps for her to surprise her at Christmas. (To my knowledge I fully believed and hoped the leappad 2 was charged) The leap pad2 was never accessed or turned on except for resyncing all her old games and her new ones. She accessed her leap pad 2 on December 27-30, turned on a new game and the unit shut off after she was playing the app for 5-10 minutes so obviously it was not charged as I so believed and hoped. Well I contacted the company 2 days ago expressing my dismay and the money I put out for this toy for my granddaughter and how this unit has not been working properly more than her actually using it and I asked them what they are going to do about this situation. They wrote me back today and told me I would have to pay to send it back for testing. I just wrote them back and told them I did not feel it was my responsibility and seeing they offered to send me a label previously they could do it now....obviously I have not heard back from them yet. I am most annoyed with my last encounter with them. I definitely would not recommend the leap pad 2 with the battery pack/charger.

Patti Murrish

March 20, 2014, 2:28 pm

My grandson has a LP2 that has locked him out of 3 games. That's $75 worth of games. How do I unlock these games?

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