I was very interested in the press release that arrived from LeapFrog in my inbox yesterday. It announced the imminent arrival of a new kids tablet, the LeapFrog Epic. This piqued my interest because, whilst LeapFrog have a great track record with producing kids tablets, this, they proudly announced, is the first time they have produced a tablet that will sit in the electronics aisle of shops rather than the toy aisle.
Up until now, LeapFrog’s kids tablet offering has been the LeapPad, and I must say as kids tablets go I like this one. We have a LeapPad 1 and a LeapPad 3 (both sent to us by LeapFrog for review purposes), and the kids both enjoy playing with them, despite having iPads available to them as well. I included the LeapPad in my roundup of recommended tablets for kids, and I still think it’s a great buy, particularly for younger kids, and for parents who a less tech-savvy about setting parental controls on a more generic tablet. However in the back of my head I’ve always had a question about the longevity of these tablets. They’re great, the quality of the games is excellent, and they are completely kid friendly in setup. But as kids grow, they need to expand their horizens, they need to experience new things. The geekson, at the age of 5, has long enjoyed physics puzzle games like Cut the Rope, and in the last couple of weeks he has really got in to Angry Birds. Games like this, up until now, have not been available on the LeapFrog tablets.
But yesterday LeapFrog announced that their new tablet, the LeapFrog Epic, has an operating system based on Android 4.4 (KitKat), and is designed to grow as your child grows. So when you first switch the tablet on it has all the LeapFrog parental controls you would expect, plus their proprietary LeapSearch browser which only allows access to pre-selected, kid-safe web content from over 5,000 videos, images, websites and games all reviewed and approved by LeapFrog learning experts. Through this browser you can feel confident that the content your child sees is age appropriate. As your child’s interests change and grow, you can simply add new websites to the LeapSearch browser, remaining safe in the knowledge that you have full control over what your child sees on the Internet. When you feel your child is ready you can unlock an unrestricted, open browser, thus meaning the LeapFrog Epic grows and adapts with your child.
In addition you can set up up to three different child accounts with different permissions set for the amount of time the child spends on the tablet by total time, hours of the day and by app category, allowing you to customise the control settings for the differing needs of each child using the tablet.
A benefit of the LeapFrog Epic being built on the Android operating system is that it will allow access to apps from some of the best kids app developers (such as Halfbrick studios – the people behind Fruit Ninja – or one of my personal favourites Toca Boca) alongside the LeapFrog own content. LeapFrog will be maintaining their own App Store, allow them to approve every app available on the LeapFrog Epic to be sure there are no in-app purchases, no harmful third party ads, and only age-appropriate experiences.
“We create tablets for parents that are looking for the perfect introduction to tablet play for their child, with the best safety features available today and access to a vast selection of our award-winning content that not only provides a breadth of entertainment, but delivers life-changing learning and development,” said John Barbour, LeapFrog CEO. “The LeapFrog Epic tablet is age-appropriate right out of the box, but grows with a child. Children expect technology that’s more like their parents’ – sleeker and faster, whereas parents want technology that has been designed with kids in mind and safely delivers educational and development benefits, not just another TV screen. The LeapFrog Epic tablet is a perfect balance – a unique, full-featured kid’s tablet experience with the learning content and controls that parents can trust and all the play, creativity, and exploration children will love.”
The LeapFrog Epic will be hitting stores next month, and I certainly think it’s looking like a great option for a kids tablet on paper.
Disclosure: I am a member of the LeapFrog Blogger Panel, which means I receive press releases and review items from the LeapFrog team. This article is based on a press release I was sent. I was under no obligation to write about the LeapFrog Epic table; I am doing because I think it is of interest.