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?
Back 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.
Sadly 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.