Reviewed by A. Ashworth
My almost 3 year old granddaughter was the very lucky recipient of a LeapFrog LeapPad3, which we were asked to review for What’s Good To Do. Like most children with an older sibling, she is always really keen to be a big girl and copy what her parents and big sister (who is nearly 6) is doing.
Both girls received ‘proper’ tablets for Christmas, my husband talked me out of kids’ tablets for them as he was concerned that they’d be very limited in what they could do, and he thought a proper tablet would grow with them more successfully. In reality, although supervised, my almost 3 year old dropped her tablet on the floor and it hasn’t worked properly since. So the idea of it lasting longer was useless as it was broken within the month. Because of this, I was really excited to see what this tablet could do and how sturdy it would be.
It arrived well packed in the box, and as soon as she saw it, she was really keen to get it out and start playing with it. The instructions that came with it, although short, were concise and it was very straightforward to go through the set up process. This new generation of LeapPad’s is a massive step up from the one we had for my eldest granddaughter. You don’t NEED a laptop to set them up and download games, as they are WiFi enabled, and rather than relying on a contestant stream of expensive AA batteries they are plugged in and charged like an iPad.
It took me about 15 minutes to set the LeapPad up, including setting up a LeapFrog account, downloading the included free game and setting up profiles for both of my granddaughters. As I was setting it up, I was impressed by how good the screen resolution was, and how accurate the touch screen was. The device felt really well made and sturdy; like it would stand up to the use of young children without falling apart.
The apps that come on the device as standard were simple but really fun and engaging for both of the girls. They both loved setting up their own pets in the Pet app, and engaging them. The Art Studio app is fantastic, and works really nicely with the attached stylus. The stylus itself is fantastic for two reasons: it is tethered to the tablet so won’t get lost, and it has a soft tip on the end so if the children jab at the screens with it, the tablet won’t get damaged.
The tablet has both a rear camera and a selfie camera, both of them are very good quality for the kind of device that it is. OK, the photos it takes won’t win any competitions, but they kids were absolutely delighted with the images. They then used the included Photo Fun app to edit the photos, add filters and doodles etc… They both thought this was absolutely fabulous fun.
I guess one of the reasons a parent/grandparent would choose this rather than a normal tablet is it’s a much safer learning environment for young children than a normal, open access tablet. The tablet is WiFi enabled, and does come with a safe browser for children to use. My younger granddaughter was more than happy with this. She enjoyed learning about pets and space using this app. As the curriculum at school is so much more technology focused these days, my older granddaughter is already used to searching what she likes on Google so found the browser very restrictive. As a grandparent, I found I reassuring that I didn’t have to worry about the content, and that I could leave them playing with it whilst I cooked dinner etc…
We sat down together to choose a couple of apps to download. We thought that the AppStore was really well stocked. There was plenty that both children liked the sound of, and they are all listed by category. We decided on games, but there was also the option to download eBooks or videos. Some of the download options featured characters that the children recognised from the TV, we chose a maths based UmiZoomi game and a Paw Patrol ‘just for fun’ game, as well as a words based game called Alphabet Stew. The downloads all had a recommended age phase, and for the most part, this was really accurate. All of the downloads were of a very high standard, my younger granddaughter absolutely loved the UmiZoomi app, and I was surprised how well it kept her engaged and, after a little practice, how well she could do some of the games with minimal supervision.
My older granddaughter thought the Paw Patrol game was fantastic, and loved Alphabet Stew. There were also some demo games included that can then be upgraded to the full version, and she is now planning on saving up her pocket money so that she can buy one of them.
The LeapPad3 is very, very robust. It has already survived being dropped on a couple of occasions, and really does look as good as new. We get several hours out of a single battery charge and it doesn’t take too long to recharge. My younger granddaughter loves it, and would happily play with it for hours if she was allowed. I am happy because I know that everything on there is appropriate, mostly educational, and she’s highly unlikely to damage it.
My older granddaughter also loves it, but as she’s used to an adult tablet, does find the closed environment limiting. She really enjoys the games though, but I feel needs (supervised) access to sites such as Google.
We think that although the apps are considerably more expensive than iPad or Android apps, they are high quality and worth the money. Yes, it means that they become a considered purchase rather than a throw away one but for something that is educational and for your child, this is no bad thing.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the LeapPad3 to anyone with kids aged 3-6. I do think that kids at the very top of the age range also need access to Google etc…, but that the LeapPad3 is a fantastic compliment to it. It makes a fantastic, robust and impressive first tablet for younger children, and I feel both kids will get an awful lot of use from it.
A top product!
Suitable age: 3-9 years
Available to buy from Amazon here.