Mellow Mummy: Leapfrog Ultra XDi Review : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 17 November 2014

Leapfrog Ultra XDi Review

As members of the Leapfrog Blogger Panel we have been trying out some of their most popular kids tech in the run up to Christmas and we were most looking forward to the Leapfrog Leappad Ultra XDi because it promised to be the ultimate kids tablet.

The Leappad Ultra XDi has a larger, higher resolution screen than the Leappad 3, and a larger volume of storage (8GB) for photos and music but it isn't as fast (and I would say it was quite noticeably slower) than its smaller counterpart.

The Leappad Ultra XDi is a tablet device designed for children from 4 years to 9 years old - I'd say this was a very good age recommendation.  My daughter is now 5 and is using her Leappad more and more every week - she uses it for everything from listening to her Frozen storybook to playing spelling games.  From dressing up Barbie to completing spy puzzles.  We have downloaded and tried out games which are currently far beyond her maths and comprehension capabilities but on the other hand we also have games which are simple enough for her younger sister (2.5 years) to have a play with.

 The Leappad XDi comes with a large selection out of the box apps (about 11) and lots of others that you can either download directly to the device, through your PC or Mac using the Leapfrog Connect software or by purchase in store or online.  Lara most enjoys the themed games and story books with big, recognisable characters such as Barbie, Minnie Mouse, Monsters Inc. and Frozen.

Both of my girls are active users of an iPad tablet and I regular readers will know that I am a big fan of the learning opportunities that non-kid-specific tablets offer.  However, in the Leappad Ultra XDi I've seen the first signs that a Leapfrog tablet really could become Lara's primary learning tablet because it is beginning to offer features that appeal to both her, and to us as parents. Things we all love about the Leappad Ultra XDi:-

  • The screen size on the Leappad Ultra is a good 7 inch touch screen which is about the same size as many adult tablets - small people find big screens easiest to use.
  • The quality and range of the downloads is always increasing.  While you will still pay a lot for games or stories which feature your child's favourite movie characters, there are plenty of affordable apps available to download and every single one of them represents a learning opportunity and you can have confidence that they have been pre-screened for suitability and quality for children.  However, I would still say that Android and iOS apps still present a far better value for money and a broader range.
  • Wi-Fi comes as standard on the Leappad Ultra XDi.  It was pretty much stress-free to set up and I'm impressed with the speed and level of connectivity that the device gets around the house.  My two girls can connect their Leappads to play games together but we don't really make the most of the Wi-fi connection because we find the kid-friendly Zui browser (Leapsearch) very restrictive.  Lara tried to do some research into Racoons for school on hers and managed only to find one silly youtube video.
  • The Leappad Ultra XDi comes with a built-in battery and comes with a mains charger.  I've found the Leappad Ultra XDi to hold its charge very well.
  • The stylus for the touch screen is attached to the tablet so that you can't lose it.
  • It is sturdy enough and tough enough to withstand being dropped by Lara's little sister!
  • You can store photos and MP3 music files on it, this is something that Lara is just beginning to get into and I can see her using more and more as she gets older.  You can also save to your computer the artworks and images your child creates on their tablet.

Currently, Lara's most played with game on her Leappad Ultra is the Barbie Malibu Mysteries (spelling, sorting, searching and of course... fashion selection!).  You get three free downloads when you first set up the Leappad Ultra XDi and I chose a simple maths game called Cha Cha Chicken.  I've also downloaded Lara some games for learning the first concepts needed towards programming and computing (spy games and puzzles).

I like the rotating screen functionality on the Leappad Ultra XDi (you can lock this in the parent settings so it doesn't rotate).  My only real gripe (other than the cost of the downloads) is that it is too hard to alter the volume on the tablet - I'd appreciate a button to do this quickly and easily.

Disclosure: As a member of the blogger panel I was sent the Leappad Ultra XDI for review but my opinions are my own and I pride myself on honest feedback

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