It’s time for LeapFrog to release their newest iteration of the LeapPad. They should be hitting stores starting July 10th (tomorrow). Lucky me, I got my hands on one a few weeks ago, so I’ll share my thoughts about it here. It arrived just in time for a family road trip so the kids have had ample opportunity to explore it.
LeapPad Platinum has a 7 inch hi-resolution screen, like the LeapPad Ultra XDi, and has wi-fi capability (with parental control). You can play all of your old LeapPad game cartridges on it, and download all your previously purchased content from the LeapFrog app store as well. But these are all standard features. More importantly it has a faster processor which equates to a more responsive tablet with less clocking than in the past, and it has more memory (8 GB), to store all the apps, books, music and games you’ve amassed from the LeapFrog app store over the years.
The LeapPad Platinum is also purportedly the toughest LeapPad yet. It has a rubber bumper all the way around it, to help it survive the inevitable drops onto tile or cement, as well as a shatter proof screen. Ours suffered a fair amount of abuse at the hands of my kids and some of their friends and cousins in its first week and it lived to tell the tale…with the exception of the stylus.
The stylus has a cool soft rubber tip covered by mesh. Well, it was cool until someone chewed through the mesh and the rubber tip tore off. Then it was kind of useless. The kids had to use their fingers to play (oh my!) until a replacement stylus came. Moral of the story is: don’t let children with teeth or fangs chew on the stylus. Everything else has been seamless, and we’ve had it for several weeks now.
*On a side note, you might be pleased to know that the kids learned their lesson and no longer chew on the stylus. Yay!
So, what’s new with LeapFrog? The LeapPad Platinum (along with the LeapPads 2, 3 and Ultra) is capable of doing a hybrid of card/video games they’ve dubbed “Imagicard”. These games come with both a game cartridge and a stack of cards and you use both to play. The cards can be used to select the character they want to play as well as answers to questions. When the kids choose a character, they capture that character’s card with the LeapPad camera and it will bring the character to life on the LeapPad screen. When doing challenges, they select the correct answer from the cards by taking a picture of the correct one. Like with the TMNT game, Mikey teaches fractions by eating a certain amount of a pizza and asks your child to select the card that shows how much of the pizza is remaining. And they have all their cards right there to choose from and take a picture of.
The kids love it. The camera is always their favorite feature on any given device, so they love, love, love to implement their photography skills in their regular game use. Really.
I have to admit to being a little less enthused about having to keep track of the stack of cards that comes with those games. I envisioned having to constantly remind the kids to pick them up, or do it myself, or find the baby slobbering all over them, and then the fits we would deal with when the card they need is lost. In fact, since the kids would be playing it in the car right off the bat, in order to preclude whining and frustration all the way to Lava Hot Springs when their cards fell on the floor and they couldn’t reach them with their seatbelts on, I didn’t let them bring the cards. I told them they had to play other games that didn’t require cards.
But then my five year old made the happy discovery that the cards are kept in a digital catalog within the game as well. When it comes to the screen where it’s asking you to take a picture of the card, you can tap the little button that shows three cards and it will let you choose from your digital card collection instead. What a relief! Especially because I’m sure, eventually, the kids will lose some of the cards, and then where would we be?
So, in the end, the kids like using the physical cards better than the digital catalog, but if they don’t have the cards at the moment, they can still play the Imagicard game.
Props to LeapFrog for another kids tablet well done. Also, props for sending me one for free. My opinions are still my own and I wasn’t compensated in any other way for this post.
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