LeapTV: Worthy of the Hype?


LeapTV

LeapTV is one of the hottest toys this Christmas season. It’s not really shocking. In fact, every year there’s a LeapFrog product in one of the top slots for most sought after toy.  Is it just the hype speaking? Is it just because it’s LeapFrog? Or is this thing really that cool?

For me, the LeapTV was relseased at a perfect time. I’ve been dithering on whether its time to buy the kids their first game console for a few months now. I really wanted one that had lots of kids games available, games that require motion. And I didn’t want the kids to descend into vidiocy (vidiocy: having the brain sucked out due to too much time playing mindless video games). Nor did I want to drop $500 on a console, only to have a newer, better edition of the same console to be released within a year or so. Parents everywhere are faced with this same conundrum everyday all around the world, I’m sure.

Enter the LeapTV.

I happen to have one in my hot little hands thanks to our friends at LeapFrog. I was able to test the thing on my kids and form an opinion just in time for all our readers who are starting their Christmas Shopping lists.

The concept:

LeapTV Kinect style camera

What is this thing? It’s a game console for younger kids (ages 3-8), the games and movies for which emphasize learning as well as active play, as per LeapFrog norm. They borrowed the Kinect idea from the Xbox, so, it comes with a little camera that you set up in front of the TV that recognizes movement (pictured above). And on top of that, they borrowed the Wii wand idea (the controllers actually have two different modes, one of which is the Wii wand. The other is regular controller).

Some of the games don’t require the controller. For those ones the kids position themselves in front of the TV (which usually shows your child doing…whatever activity they’re doing…on the TV screen) as they play using motion detection. The kids love seeing themselves on TV.

Wii style controller for LeapTV

And in other games they use the controller (usually in the Wii wand mode) as the game verbally directs them.  Like my son in the photo above. Playing Princess Sofia. Because he loves Princess Sofia.

Put it all together and we have a game console with the intent to engage kids, educate them, and keep them active.

Execution:

It all sounds like a great idea. The question is, did LeapFrog pull it off? Yes. Yes, they did. As with all LeapFrog products, the educational aspect of the games got high priority. I’m always talking about what high quality content LeapFrog’s games have, and the games and movies available for the LeapTV are on par with the rest of their stuff.

Some of the games are fast paced, mostly the games on the older end of the 3-8 year old spectrum, and I was really impressed with these for one, big huge reason: It is really, but really hard to keep my little girl interested in educational games–which is why I always blog about it when I find one that she likes–and she loves those fast paced LeapTV games.

I noticed this aversion of hers when she was around a year old. No matter what game or ruse I used to disguise my intent to teach her the ABC’s or numbers, she had zero interest. She wouldn’t even look at it. This girl was constantly moving, and wiggling, and being silly, and unless you offered her crayons and a coloring book, there was no way she would consider sitting down. This has not changed. So the LeapTV has been a huge success with her because she gets to wiggle and be crazy while winning a game (and learning…shhhhh!).

Another plus is that the motion detector and the Wii mode aren’t really picky about movement. Generally if you just flail a bit, it will pick up the movement and count it. If it’s not picking up your movement, just flail a little harder. You’ll burn a few extra calories 🙂

Cons:

The only negative thing we’ve noticed is that it isn’t the most responsive game console on the planet. Sometimes it lags a little bit, which is more noticeable in games like Spiderman where timing is key, since he doesn’t jump right when you press A sometimes. He jumps a little bit after.

When I consider how much more the most responsive consoles cost ($500 or so), this doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Ease of use:

As with any new device, it is well worth the time to sit down and give the little ones a tutorial on how to use it, especially if they don’t have prior experience with game consoles. The learning curve for my kids lasted a few days, with my four year old still having occasional bouts of frustration. We’ve had it for about a month now and they are both almost pros. Keep in mind, they have had nearly no exposure to game consoles in the past, just playing at friends’ houses.

LeapBand pet play for LeapTV

Fun freebie: It links with the LeapBand. So, if you have one, your child can play games with their pets via the LeapTV. If you don’t have a LeapBand, it will allow you to play the game anyway, your child just will not have the additional joules that can be earned with the band.

Ages: 3-8

Price: $150…but you can get $10 off on the LeapFrog website right now with the promo code: PREBLACK (good until midnight EST Nov 20th).

Games: About $30

Where to get it: Leapfrog, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kmart…the usual.

Worth it? Over all, I do think this thing is worth the hype. There’s a reason LeapFrog is always one of the top contenders for hottest toy, and it’s because they consistently put out awesome products. LeapTV fills a void in the market for consoles meant for kids, not only that but the games are all engaging, educational, and active–three things that are very important to me. The kids are still excited about it after having it for a month, and more importantly, am still excited for them to play it after having it a month. And the price is incomparable to anything else out there.

*Thank you LeapFrog for sending me one for free. All opinions expressed above are still honest and true.

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.

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