Mellow Mummy: Leapfrog LeapTV Review : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Leapfrog LeapTV Review

We have been quite incredibly excited in the run up to trying out the Leapfrog LeapTV gaming console.  The first video gaming console designed solely for young children - a LOT of fun, with a big helping of education along the way.  From the very first moment, earlier this year, when the launch of the LeapTV was announced to us as Leapfrog blogger panelists, Lara and Holly have been looking forward to trying out the LeapTV gaming platform for themselves.

The LeapTV console connects directly to your television using an HDMI cable (provided).  The console comes with one controller which can be used in two different ways - as a traditional hover and click hand-held device or as a wireless pointing device - you twist the handles to move it from one mode to another and some games require one style of usage over another.

The LeapTV comes with one free game, a Leapfrog Pet Play World which allows your child to create their own pets and lead them through a pet world which requires you to interact, play games and really explore all of the features of the LeapTV from one place.  The final mode of play is a totally hands-free mode and there are several sub-games of Pet Play World that make the most of this feature.  Using the motion-sensing camera for the LeapTV your child stands in front of the television and the motion sensor helps them to feel like they are part of the game.  Very much like Kinect, but tailored and designed specifically for small people (something Kinect is traditionally very poor at!).  The girls took a while to get used to this play mode, but once they realised that their arms and body were causing the effects of the game, they were delighted.

The LeapTV console is designed for young preschoolers upwards.  I would say that the content of the games I've tried to date are reflective of this - perhaps a touch older as a starting point than many other Leapfrog toys but certainly something you could expect your child to be using before they start school.  Lara (age 5) took a good few tries to get used to the controls (in all three modes of play) but she was really eager to give it a try.  Holly (and advanced 2.5 year old) has some way to go before this will naturally come to her.

There is a wealth of content already available for LeapTV and games cost around the same as a kids equivalent on other console platforms.  With Leapfrog content I have the confidence that it will have been written specifically for small people, and tested for content and appropriateness and that, every game has an underlying learning objective (such as maths, reading, reasoning or phonics), however strong.

While the LeapTV may currently lack some of the more powerful cloud-based, interactive, sharing capabilities of the big-named brands of gaming console, this isn't a negative in any shape or form when it comes to a play system for children.  In fact, knowing that the LeapTV is limited to Leapfrog games comes as a comfort to me.  The price, also compares favourably for a family gaming console. You can buy additional hand-held controllers for multi-player gaming in some of the LeapTV games.

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