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Leapster GS Explorer - Performance and Software

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Leapster GS Explorer - Performance

The Leapster GS Explorer has an unnamed 500MHz processor, which provides enough horsepower to run simple 2D games, along with 2GB of storage space. In terms of graphical sophistication we’re more in the league of basic smartphone apps or even Flash games than the 3D accelerated titles you might expect on a 3DS, PSP or iOS device. What’s more, frame rates aren’t always perfectly smooth. However, your average four to seven year old cares little about such things, and as long as Spongebob or Dora looks the part, that’s all they want to know.

One area where the GS Explore falls behind your average handheld is the batteries. It takes four AA batteries which last roughly eight to ten hours, though your mileage will depend on whether you use rechargables and the brand and type you use. We’d recommend using rechargables, not least because you’ll go through a couple of sets a week, but also because Leapster’s own Explore Recharger Pack with batteries and charger costs a whacking £24.99. Annoyingly, we found the battery covers on our review sample almost impossible to remove. In the end we resorted to prising them off with a palette knife, which is hardly ideal, and we know we’re not alone in taking such drastic measures.

Leapster GS Explorer

Leapster GS Explorer - Software

The interface on the Leapster GS Explorer is a little less sophisticated than the one found on the LeapPad 2, but with its simple pages of six icons and helpful (if hugely irritating) voice-guidance it's very easy for even smaller children to use. As with the LeapPad 2, it's all controlled by an adult administrator using the downloadable Leapfrog Connect software.

While children can create and assign pictures to profiles, only the administrator can purchase, download and assign apps and games to those profiles, so there's no way for the kids to rack up a vast bill for apps unless they get access to your PC and your Leapfrog account. Leapfrog Connect also provides galleries of any uploaded photos, videos and artworks, plus facilities to email them or transfer them to Facebook. Meanwhile, it gives parents tools to track their kids’ progress through apps and games via the Learning Path section.

Leapster GS Explorer

In terms of apps and games, the GS Explore comes bundled with Pet Pad, a fun pet sim with some added early-level literacy elements, apps for capturing and customising photos and video from the camera and Escape of the Sillies, a slightly bizarre game where you can customise the titular critters, tap on them to build up energy then play basic maths games to release them through a portal into the real world. This app makes some nice use of the tilt controls and camera, though there aren’t any interactive augmented reality bits, like you'd find in the AR games on the 3DS or Invizimals on the PSP. Still, the ability to customise the Sillies with photo faces and recorded noises was much enjoyed by our six-year-old tester (not to mention her forty-year-old dad).

Alex Walsh

January 23, 2013, 3:21 pm

The pink version of this was recently 20 quid on a rainforest themed tax avoiding website. Even with expensive games, it's definitely worth more than that.

Max

January 25, 2013, 12:42 pm

Tough and rugged but most kids will have outgrown this by age 5.
The apps are expensive and most of them seem to have the same "teach my kids to count to ten with an American accent" theme.
There are some gems (such as the game "Jewel Train") but most of the apps here would find a better equivalent (and far greater selection) on the Ipad/Android tablets for about a third of the price.
I've also found that downloading new apps from your PC to this, if you pull the USB lead out without clicking on the "remove device" icon on their Leapfrog connect software you can corrupt the whole device...(Happened to me 3 times so far and also happened on the old leap pad 1)..which takes hours of software re-installation to fix. This even happens on Windows 7 so feels like a real throw-back to the dark days.

PS: You are meant to use the stylus to remove the battery cover.
(Put the point of the stylus into the circular hole on the battery cover and it pops right off).

Stuart Andrews

January 25, 2013, 2:35 pm

Hi Max

Are we talking about the same generation product? I have my review sample here with two battery covers, neither of which has a circular hole. They should slide off, but they don't.
I share most of your reservations. At £30 it's decent value, but I wouldn't want to pay more than that, and the app pricing is roughly 50 to 200% too high (depending on app).

Max

January 25, 2013, 4:53 pm

Hi Stuart - Well spotted on the battery covers. Just checked and mine are slightly different (Bought it in the US) and have a tiny circular depression near the edge. The front looks identical to yours.

Mark

January 25, 2013, 9:32 pm

Shame this review didn't come out before christmas1

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