Mellow Mummy: Leappad 3 Review : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Leappad 3 Review

Leappad3 Review
Leappad3 Kids Tablet
As part of the Leapfrog blogger panel, my girls were lucky enough to be sent one of the new Leappad3 learning tablets to try out.  In the past, we have tried the Leappad Ultra (this year replaced by the Ultra XDi) and also the closest competitor, the Innotab in its various forms so it was a very interesting comparison.

My initial reaction when I saw the new Leappad 3 was "wowzers, that screen is tiny" but actually, at 5 inches (diagonally) it isn't any smaller than the screen on the Leappad2 - it just seems a WHOLE lot smaller than the 7 inch screen on the Leappad Ultra and Ultra XDi.  For an older child, I don't think the small screen is a problem but with an age recommendation of 3-9 years old, I think a younger child (such as Holly) would struggle with accuracy when using the touch elements of the small screen.

The Leappad3 is all about compactness.  It is a neat, light tablet but packed with tech.  It has both a front and rear-mounted camera, an integrated soft-headed screen stylus (attached to the tablet so that you won't lose it) and it comes with a number of games and creativity apps installed by default.  As Leapfrog fans, we already have a lot of apps downloaded ranging from £2.50 simple maths apps right up to the pricer big-named characters such as Frozen, Minnie Mouse and My Little Pony (which can cost as much as £20).  We were tempted to download the Frozen soundtrack but we already have it as a digital download from iTunes and it is a shame to have to pay for it all over again so that Lara can play it from her Leappad.

The single biggest draw for me of the Leappad 3 over the other kids tablets around is the speed.  Compared to other dedicated kids tech (Leapfrog, VTech or even kid-specific Android tablets) the new Leappad 3 is noticeably faster.  I don't know the tech spec but I do know that the speed at which apps loaded and screens transitioned was instantly noticeable compared to previous Leappad incarnations.  It is a big improvement and one which I think will mean that we use the Leappad as much as, possibly more than the family iPad.  I also like the clean and easy to use parent settings for configuring wi-fi set up.

I won't dwell on the Leapsearch capabilities other than to say that I don't feel kids tablets should bother.  For me, a good set of parental controls on your broadband account is a better way of limiting web content.  Lara came home from school this week wanting to find out more about the topics of "Dead Sea Scrolls" and "Hannukah", neither of which she would have been able to using the "kid-friendly" browser on the Leappad.  But Cat videos... oh yes.

Lara's favourite elements of the Leappad are definitely the learning games.  Recently she has discovered Lula Ladybird (a maths and spatial awareness game) and Secret Agent U which is a game for slightly older children to build basic computer literacy skills with some very basic software, hardware and networking concepts (I admit it, I was won over by the geekiness).  Holly also likes to play with her sister and most enjoys the Petathlon games app which accompanies the Leappand activity watch that they both use; it is a great way to bring the two Leapfrog toys together.  They both enjoy taking photos and it is very easy for me to transfer them to my laptop but they aren't particularly high quality so I'm not expecting many keepers!

Leappad 3 Lula the Ladybird
Leappad 3 Lula the Ladybird

The Leappad 3 comes with a mains adapter for charging but we don't use it - I tend to charge it via USB from my computer while I am synching it with the Leapfrog Connect software (so that I can upload new games, take a look at Lara's learning journey and have a sneaky peak at the photos she has taken!).  I'm loving the idea of being able to 'tweak' settings on the Leappad to encourage your child to practice specific skills (although we don't currently own any games that support this).

Other than the tiny screen, I'm very impressed with the Leappad 3.  I'd prefer it if the grey colouring on the front wasn't already scraping off (not very kid-proof, that) but I think that's largely cosmetic and it would be EXCELLENT if it didn't reset the volume (up to about 75%) every time you switch it off.  I expect the Leappad 3 to be one of our most-used pieces of kid tech in the Mellow household.

Leappad 3 Selfie

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