Jul 5, 2011

LeapFrog Creates Tablet for Kids


Years ago, award-winning educational toy company LeapFrog created a touch-based reading toy called LeapPad. It was, as expected from the company, way ahead of its time. Selling of the product stopped to make way for the new LeapPad – this time, as a tablet PC designed especially for kids ages four to nine. Now, kids will not just be able to play, but learn at the same time – the touchscreen way.

The LeapPad has a lot of similarities with more sophisticated tablet PCs. It has the same intuitive navigation system. It can be used in a landscape or portrait orientation. It has a built-in camera for stills and video recording. It allows handheld gaming. Most importantly, it has eBook reading and storage capabilities. As an eBook reader, the toy comes with reading apps that read books aloud. Some parts of the story are animated, while certain visuals can be interacted with to elicit movement. What kids will find even more interesting are the mini-games included within each story. Playing these games will unlock other stories as a reward.
As expected, the LeapPad is bulky compared with its adult contemporaries. The 480 x 272 resolution, 5-inch color touchscreen more than makes up for the size, though. There is an option to use the stylus that comes with the package, which will come in handy when editing graphics. Yes, the kids can be as creative as they want to edit and morph photos and drawings using the downloadable Art Studio app. Kids and parents alike will be glad to know that there are more than 100 games and apps already included in the package.
One special app allows kids to write their own multimedia eBook. This embedded app, Story Studio, includes various templates for each page to be created. Combined with the Art Studio app, it can accommodate images to make the story come alive. It can also incorporate audio snippets for specific pages. The finished eBook can be read on PCs and MACs, and with the parents’ help, uploaded to Facebook for sharing.
The new LeapPad can also play games and videos from cartridges of old LeapFrog toys. If there is more than one child in the family, the tablet allows up to three personalized profiles for individual users. This learning toy comes with only 2GB of storage that can’t be expanded further. However, content can be transferred to a PC or Mac to accommodate additional downloads. There is no wireless connectivity, which is not really necessary for the toy’s educational objectives.
Most importantly, parents can track their kids’ learning progress using the LeapPad by connecting to LeapFrog’s Learning Path website. This new toy will be available in August for only $100. Pre-orders are now being accepted at the LeapFrog website.

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