Tablets are big business. The iPad started it all, but there are a whole host of rivals coming out. And anyone who has a tablet and a small child will know how kids are drawn to them, and not only that, but how good they are at operating them! The geekdaughter is a dab hand with an iPad, and I’ve seen her get huge educational benefit from it. But now there’s a new tablet on the block, and it seems its sole purpose is to allow parents to reclaim their iPads! That’s right – it’s a tablet specifically made for 4 – 9 year olds.
When I heard LeapFrog were bringing out a new tablet device I was really keen to try it. In fact, I made a point of seeking the LeapFrog team out at CyberMummy11 to get a first glance of it, and to tell them how excited I was to see it. So when they contacted me this week to ask if I wanted to play with one, I nearly bit their hands off!
Here’s the sales pitch:
Built just like an iPad, but tailored specifically for children, LeapPad Explorer encompasses the next generation of learning, digital reading and personal creativity. The revolutionary device comes complete with a collection of innovative tools including a built in 2mega pixel camera and video recorder, which is designed to feed children’s creativity and help develop key learning skills. It also has a library of over 100 educational games and interactive e-books, offering children endless ways to play.
Now at this point I should point out that the unit we’ve been sent is a pre-release model. The LeapPad Explorer does not go on sale until Monday 15th August, and at that point I’ll be able to connect this one to my PC and download the final software updates to it, and also be able to see the online app store and what’s available there. So I’m not going to do an review at this point, because it wouldn’t be realistic.
What I will say is this – despite being a pre-release unit it has kept the geekdaughter entertained for two whole days. Her iPad has been abandoned in favour of this new device, which on the face of it I didn’t expect to hold her attention. The educational quality of the apps has impressed me, and I’ve even had to re-think my attitude towards kids “mindlessly” watching videos. One of the apps we currently have on our LeapPad is a 30 minute animated video introducing all the letters of the alphabet. If you’ve ever played with LeapFrog’s “Fridge Phonics” product you’ll recognise the song – I’ve had a day full of “a says a, a says a, every letter makes a sound, a says a”!! The geekdaughter has watched this over and over again, but more than that – it has pushed her to try to write the letters herself! I found her yesterday lying on the floor, LeapPad on one side, paper and pencil on the other, trying to copy the letters as the video introduced them. Wow.
The LeapPad Explorer retails at £79.99, and for that you get the unit plus the Pet Pad and Camera apps. If you connect it to your computer you can then download the Story Studio and Art Studio apps, and one further app of your choice, all free. Further downloadable apps will cost approximately £5 each, and there will be cartridge games retailing at £19.99. It will also play any cartridges you may have from the older Leapster system as well.
Would you like the chance to win a LeapPad Explorer for yourself (or your kids, if you’re inclined to share it with them!)? You can, with LeapFrog’s launch event. Here’s what I’ve been told about it:
To celebrate the arrival of the world’s first tablet device built especially for children, LeapFrog will be running a global online event, in which fans will have the chance to win a LeapPad Explorer every hour for 32 hours!
From midnight on Monday 15th August, parents will have the chance to play LeapFrog’s interactive online game, hosted on a dedicated LeapPad Explorer microsite. Users who successfully complete the game will be notified on screen immediately if they have won. If unsuccessful, users can return to the site every hour to have another try.
Fans will also be in with a second chance to win if they share a link to the online event with their friends via Twitter or Facebook.
LeapFrog’s instant win online event will run alongside the launch of LeapPad Explorer at London’s iconic toy store, Hamleys. On the day of launch lucky shoppers at the store will also have the opportunity to win a LeapPad Explorer every hour.
Disclosure: LeapFrog provided us with a LeapPad Explorer pre-loaded with a couple of apps. The opinions stated are my own. Text marked as a quotation has been copied from the LeapFrog press release.