LeapFrog: LeapPad Low-down

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Jul 122019
 

A few weeks ago I promised you a more detailed post about the LeapFrog LeapPad, one of the most popular kids tablets across the globe. As a loyal LeapFrog family we’ve been using LeapPads from the moment they were first released (in fact before that we even had its predecessors, the good old Leapster GS and Leapster Explorer) and many years on we remain big LeapPad fans. I regularly receive emails from readers to ask my opinion so I thought I’d put my two cents in…

While I will mainly focus on the four latest LeapPad models I would like to stress that there is still a big market for the older styles (LeapPad 1, LeapPad 2 and LeapPad 3) as well. You may not be able to find them brand new, however you can easily pick one up second hand on Gumtree, eBay or Marketplace (often with a heap of cool game cartridges included) at a bargain price which is a great way to start your LeapPad journey.

The durable design means that the earlier devices have lots of play left in them and you can still connect them to your computer with a USB cable to download new apps from the App Centre. Just make sure you tick the matching ‘Filter by Product’ box in the App Centre when searching for new apps. The majority of ‘old’ LeapFrog game cartridges are also compatible with the newest LeapPads, so they hold their value well. Remember you can always upgrade your device later while holding onto your game cartridges collection.

Good to know: I know I have mentioned this in previous posts but just in case you missed it… When you purchase apps in the App Centre they are not allocated to a specific LeapPad only but added to your LeapFrog Parent Account instead. From there on you can install them on each LeapFrog device (up to five) connected to your account. So instead of having to buy the app for each LeapPad individually you only need to purchase it once and then all your kids/LeapPads can enjoy the same game. 

Because your purchased apps are connected to your LeapFrog parent account, when you decide to upgrade your old LeapPad to a newer one you simply remove the app from the old one and install it on the new one. Just link the new LeapPad up to the same parent account and you can automatically enjoy all your previously purchased apps, how easy is that?

LeapFrog LeapPad UltraBack to today when the most popular LeapPad models are the LeapPad Ultra, LeapPad Platinum, LeapPad Ultimate and (a little different to the others) LeapFrog Epic. Compared to the first models these four are noticeably bigger, fancier and faster with front and back camera and beautiful full colour screens, making kids feel very grown-up with their own modern tablet. LeapPads are designed to be safe for small hands, you can protect the LeapPad Ultra with a gel skin (sold separately), the LeapFrog Epic comes with a rubber cover and the other two have a built-in shock-proof bumper.

Unlike the LeapPad 1 and 2 all newer LeapPads are rechargeable, there is no fiddling with costly batteries that keep running out and a charger is included. Each LeapPad comes with a selection of included apps so it’s ready to go straight away. Kids can play games, keep on track with a calendar, a clock and a notepad, take videos, snap photos and record voice memos and edit them into their own unique art, listen to music and much more.

LeapFrog is all about learning fun, each and every LeapFrog game is developed by educational experts to learn, practise and improve important skills through play. You can grow your personal LeapFrog Library by purchasing new games in the App Centre where you can select games that focus on the learning area of your choosing. Using games featuring popular characters like PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, Frozen and Paw Patrol and many others even the most stubborn learners will fall in love with learning.

The amazing thing about LeapFrog is that it recognises your child’s achievements and progress and adjusts content and challenges to match your child’s learning level, this keeps things fun and interesting all the time. A LeapPad allows for multiple player profiles so each child in the family can play at their own level and pace, now that is clever!

Hip Tip: The LeapFrog App Centre regularly runs brilliant sales (eg. 30% off all apps, buy 2 get 1 free) so parents can stock up on a bunch of cool new apps at a fantastic price. We usually do this before school holidays or big family trips to surprise the kids and save a lot. You don’t even have to install them straight away if you want to keep them for a rainy day. Keep an eye on the app or the LeapFrog Australia Facebook page for the next app sale.

All four LeapPads can be connected to WiFi if approved by parents (protected with a parent lock code). Having the WiFi connection set up means app downloads and updates are a breeze, there is no need to connect to a PC. Children can also browse the virtual LeapFrog Rewards Store where they can trade the reward tokens they have earnt in their games for game add-ons. There are NEVER any in-app purchases, children have no way of accidentally buying anything and there are no ‘temptations’ which is a real win for LeapFrog.

Most importantly the WiFi function provides access to a completely safe online environment called LeapSearch. All LeapSearch content has been carefully handpicked and approved by LeapFrog team of parents and education experts, so you can rest assured all web pages, videos, images and games they encounter are 100% kid-appropriate. As a parent I love the fact that it allows curious children to enjoy the freedom of exploring ‘the internet’ and searching for things that interest them without the worries of the world wide web.

LeapFrog EpicSadly the LeapFrog Epic is not that easy to get in Australia but it is definitely worth a mention. Unlike the other LeapPads this tablet runs on the well known Android operating system. The way it works and feels is a little different (in a good way), it is more customisable (not only the dashboard and background but also eg. the local weather) and if desired you can even add compatible Android apps and Google Play apps to it. Personally we only stick to the LeapFrog App Centre but I can see how to some this could be nice bonus.

Do we have a favourite? I think my children all have different opinions and they often share/swap between the different models that we have purchased over the years. Hattie is chuffed with her LeapPad Platinum, Juliet adores her LeapPad Ultimate and the twins feel very special with the LeapFrog Epic. We have purchased some of our LeapPads new and some second hand and I haven’t any issues at all with either, but of course if a new one fits in your budget and you prefer the peace of mind of warranty the newest LeapPad Ultimate is your best bet. Each to their own but in our family all LeapPads are winners!

Fair is fair, while there are a million things I love there are obviously also a few small things I dislike about each of the designs. Most of them are really petty dislikes I have to say but I promised to be complete:

  • I preferred the hard tip stylus of the LeapPad Ultra (and earlier LeapPads) over the soft tip styluses of the other three. It doesn’t wear down as easily and is cheaper to replace.
  • I wish the LeapFrog Epic would take game cartridges so we could use our game collection instead of having to download all the apps. I was also a bit sad that a rare few of our old games would not work on the LeapPad Ultimate, they do work on all previous models though.
  • When small children play their LeapPad Ultimate in landscape position the ‘on/off’ button sits exactly under their little hand so they sometimes accidentally turn it off.
  • The LeapFrog Epic is the only tablet that works with the LeapFrog TocoMail App. This fantastic app lets children send/receive basic emails to/from pre-approved contacts so our twins can communicate with their grandparents overseas which they really enjoy. I really hope they make this app available to the other LeapPads too!

Although I think I have covered a lot of the questions I received, I probably have missed some too. If there is anything at all you would like to know just get in touch and I am happy to help. Good luck finding your perfect LeapPad and enjoy the LeapFrog journey.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

Feb 172014
 

Vuly logo

If you regularly read our updates on the Hip little one Facebook page you may remember that we were considering purchasing a trampoline for our little tribe. After lots of researching, comparing, reading reviews and asking around we finally decided on one and ordered the Vuly Thunder from Australian outdoor play specialist Yardgames:

Vuly Thunder

Vuly Thunder

Born in 2008 right here in Australia the Vuly brand is now one of the biggest names in trampolines, you can find their trampolines in backyards all over Australia and around the world. Following the success of the original model (the Vuly Classic) Vuly last year released a brand new, innovative and highly anticipated design called the Vuly Thunder, a revolutionary trampoline designed to be strong, safe and have the best bounce of any recreational trampoline in existence. I thought that sounded pretty awesome so I set out to find out more.

Unlike most other trampolines the Vuly Thunder is made without traditional coil springs, instead it uses super strong, quiet and extremely bouncy, leaf springs, eliminating the risk of limbs getting stuck in springs and removing the annoying clanging noise that many trampolines make when in use. Because the mat and the net are one piece there is no slipping off the trampoline either making it extremely safe for our precious bundles.

Vuly versus Springfree, a question we asked ourselves too. I’ll admit that we did consider a Springfree but after comparing the two we made up the balance and felt the Vuly Thunder ticked all the boxes for us, had some great benefits over the Springfree and was simply much better value for money.

Vuly Thunder in action

The Vuly Thunder in action

Size:
One of the first things people look at when buying a trampoline is the size. You want a trampoline that can accommodate your own children (and any little guests that come to visit), now but also as they grow. As a family of six we knew we had to invest in a big trampoline so we decided on the Vuly Thunder XL, a round trampoline with a jump mat diameter of 3.8m. The Vuly Thunder is also available in size M (2.5m diameter) and L (3.2m diameter) for smaller yards/families.

Weight:
No matter how big (or small) your trampoline is, the fact that it is big enough doesn’t mean it can hold the weight of the jumpers so the weight limit is extremely important. As we have four children it is likely there will be multiple children, and sometimes an adult, on it at the same time so we wanted to make sure our new trampoline could handle the weight. The Vuly Thunder, regardless of which size you choose, has a massive weight limit of 150kg (that means even hubby and I can have a jump together!). Only the biggest and most expensive Springfree has a 150kg limit, the others can only hold 115kg.

Also very important is the weight of the trampoline itself. The Vuly Thunder is a very solid and extremely heavy trampoline which is very important in our windy neighbourhood, the Thunder XL weighs in at more than 250kg so it won’t blow away with a strong gust of wind. For comparison, even the biggest Springfree trampoline comes in at less than 150kg.

Fun and exercise in one

Fun and exercise in one (inside the Trampoline Tent)

Quality:
Obviously a trampoline is a big investment so you want to make sure you are buying a high quality and very safe product that will last the distance. The Vuly Thunder is designed with strong, heavy duty, thoroughly tested parts and does not involves any nuts, bolts or screws so it is not only easy to set up but there is also no chance of screws becoming loose leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

Zip Free Trampoline Entrance

Zip Free Trampoline Entrance

Safety:
You may not be able to do the same tricks (yet) as the Olympic medalists that tested the Vuly Thunder but you can definitely try whilst being safely protected by Australia’s tallest trampoline safety net. The strong mesh is not too loose and not too rigid and has small holes so fingers and toes won’t get caught. The net is stitched to the mat so jumpers won’t tumble off the trampoline.

After having seen several Springfree trampolines with broken zips around the entrance, and hearing from others users with the same issue, we felt this was a big worry as it leaves an open door for kids to fall out and get injured. The entrance of the Vuly Thunder is completely zip free, instead the safety net and the door opening overlap. This layered designed allows for a tight side opening (admittedly a bit of a squeeze for an adult) that is not accidentally accessible while jumping.

Fun on the HexVex Mat

Fun on the HexVex Mat

Extras:
The Vuly Thunder is fitted with a super bouncy mat with HexVex print which adds a whole new dimension of play to your trampoline. From a game of Trampoline Twister to Mimic Me and Story Hop, kids will have no trouble coming up with new games to play using the fun illustrations on their Thunder.

Unlike most other trampolines the Vuly Thunder comes complete with free trampoline skirt which looks neat and keep limbs, toys and animals from getting under your trampoline. Another bonus is the handy step that is built into the frame, removing the need for a ladder, Springfree trampolines are delivered without ladder and it will cost you an extra $99 to add one.

The bonus Trampoline Tent is awesome!

The bonus Trampoline Tent is awesome!

If you keep an eye on the Yardgames website you will notice that there are regular offers for a free Vuly Trampoline Tent when you purchase your trampoline. This is an awesome accessory that our kids absolutely love, you can use the complete tent with roof and sides or just the roof alone, transforming your trampoline in a super cool cubby.

Quite the adventure, 'camping' on your Trampoline

Quite the adventure, ‘camping’ on your Trampoline

Warranty:
By buying your Vuly trampoline through Yardgames, a registered Vuly reseller, you can rest assured you will receive full warranty, ongoing support and half price spare parts for the life of the trampoline directly from Vuly Australia.

When you add all these great features and bonuses up the Vuly Thunder came out on top for value, quality, safety and fun and we’re super thrilled with our purchase. If you happen to walk by our yard you’re sure to hear lots of laughter and giggles thanks to Vuly.

To find out more about Yardgames, to browse the Vuly range and to order your own Vuly trampoline online visit www.yardgames.com.au.