LEAPPAD PLATINUM REVIEW

IMG_0263Someone’s a little chuffed with their new gadget, can you tell?  We’ve just been upgraded to the all-new kids tablet from LeapFrog – LeapPad Platinum. Its arrival is perfectly timed as Maia (almost 4) is just starting to really get in to the idea of playing games on a tablet as opposed to using it to watch videos.

FullSizeRender (1)Platinum comes with several pre-loaded games and apps, including a few demos, but there are literally hundreds more to buy in the LeapFrog app centre – a mix of LeapFrog’s own titles and preschool gold like Frozen, Paw Patrol and Doc McStuffins. All are of course educator approved and curriculum centred, as you would expect from LeapFrog. I’m not trying to play tiger mum here by throwing this in, honestly that’s not who I am. But I am a big believer in the positive power of tech when it comes to learning – forget the negative headlines, in moderation I believe it can work hand in hand with the classroom.

And what better way to engage a kid in learning than by bringing Disney hard hitters like Elsa in to the equation. There’s a fantastic Frozen game available where little ones can help Elsa, Anna and Kristoff create ice sculptures –they’re asked to trace letters with the stylus (Maia prefers her finger) and are encouraged to start forming small words (with mummy’s help). It’s a hit!

Complete with a 7 inch high res screen that is forgiving of drops and bangs (handy!), Platinum is definitely sleeker and slimmer than our old LeapPad Ultra, though maybe only a smidge lighter. The graphics on this tablet are also noticeably crisper which bodes well for Platinum’s brand new secret weapon – Imagicard. These are clever interactive playing cards which, when used with the Platinum’s camera, bring characters to life on the screen – they literally jump out at you! You get a free demo app and a handful of cards with your device to give you a taster experience. Check this out:

At the moment the Imagicard packs available to buy are Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and LeapFrog’s own Letter Factory Adventures (£19.99 each). Maia really bought in to the experience – she was wowed every time a photo sprung to life and is itching for the full Paw Patrol pack (it’s now firmly on the Christmas list). Much to her delight you can also take your own photos with Paw Patrol characters, courtesy of Imagicard.

Outside of Imagicard, Maia’s having a lot of fun with the device’s cameras too – there’s two 2MP cameras, front and back. She’s really in to taking photos at the moment (of ANYTHING!) and loves the pre-loaded Photo Fun app which allows you to add silly effects to photos.IMG_0841

This Wi-Fi enabled tablet also comes loaded with LeapFrog’s kid-safe web browser, LeapSearch – music to your ears if you’ve seen your kid stray in to darker territory when using adult devices. I remember leaving Maia to watch a video of Little Red Riding Hood on my iPad while I cooked lunch and suddenly heard ‘Give me your f^&king money’… definitely not part of the story I heard as a child! She had found herself in adult space in just a few short taps. Eek! LeapSearch offers a reassuring filter – only kid friendly videos are added to the browser and are accessible. Nice!

Another fab feature for parents is that you can actually set play time limits on the Platinum meaning you have complete control over the amount of screen time your kid has. This certainly helps with the old ‘put it down’ battles as play time is all pre-planned.IMG_0830

ONE FOR THE CHRISTMAS LIST?

If you are thinking about getting your kids a tablet of their own for Christmas, I would definitely recommend LeapPad Platinum as the ‘big gift’ (it’s priced around £75 at the mo). It’s got both mine and Maia’s vote. It is simple to set up and even simpler for little hands to use. Its durability and kid friendly design (even the stylus is attached to avoid it being lost) makes it a solid investment in my book. While battery life is less than that of our old Ultra, it is more than adequate for how frequently we use the tablet. The games, though they might seem a little pricey, are a good investment too – not just for the educational value, but for longevity. A lot of the games automatically adjust skill levels so will grow with your child as they get older and smarter.

We’ve got one happy Maia, so now I am off to give Harrison Maia’s trusty old LeapPad Ultra. So far this year, he has cracked my iPhone screen and thrown it in to water as I desperately tried to appease a tantrum with a quick Peppa Pig fix. From now on, he can throw the Ultra around – it’s survived two years of Maia, so no doubt it will survive this little man too. With a 10 hour flight to California coming up with two kids SOLO (*wipes sweat from brow*) these LeapFrog tablets will be a lifesaver! Play on kids.

Disclaimer: LeapFrog gifted Maia with this tablet, but all opinions are my own

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