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96 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2010
Wow.... I am amazed.. I bought this for[...]buck expecting it to just be a camera/video camera with very limited educational value. What it DOES have is a very cool alphabet "game" that you can customize to have your picture in the spaceship to shoot the letters it tells to shoot. (There is also a math game as well) It also records sound bytes and fairly good video (for $25!) What my 4 year old loves the most is making a "story book" with his own sound effects as the story goes on. There's also the ability to edit pictures with silly stamps, stretching and kaleidescope. (other things it does is make music videos, greeting cards, and it holds all the pictures in an "album"... it says it can hold 1000 pictures.. (I'm sure that's not if you had any videos recorded)
All in all, this is probably the best $25 I've spent in a LONG LONG time...
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was fortunate enough to receive this product as part of the Vine review program. Please note that the camera is an add on product and that you will need to also purchase the LeapFrog Explorer handheld game separately. This camera will not work without that component. If you have both, you'll need to unscrew the bottom accessory port (Phillps screwdriver required) and attach the camera into the Leapster handheld component. I also needed to connect the Handheld to my computer and download software (free) from the Leapster website. Once these steps were completed, it was quick and easy to take both photos and video. The photo resolution is 640 by 480 and the camera does not have flash or zoom, but does capture crisp, well-colored photos in bright lighting. The camera also shoots video, in a "point and shoot" type of format. The microphone is located on the front of the camera accessory, so if the photographer speaks the sound is not as loud as if the subject speaks. The video results are somewhat choppy but the color is fairly good.

The camera comes with a variety of game and software options, plus the photos can be archived and shared using the Leapster Connect website interface. Once the initial setup is complete, it's quick and easy to pick up and use the camera, but the voice prompted interface does require a few moments of patience and touchscreen or stylus tapping prior to shooting photos.

Fun for kids, but this product will definitely require some adult setup and supervision to use properly. The camera/handheld unit are solid and would definitely withstand the potential drops and crashes that little users may put it through. This would like be a great way to introduce little ones to the art of photography without putting your good camera at risk.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 18, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
We received the Explorer with the camera/video attachment a few weeks ago. We have a 10 year old and a 4 year old, and this system is appropriate and interesting for both age groups. The Explorer system with the camera and video attached, is sophisticated, educational, and most of all, fun.
The camera attachment plugs directly into the bottom of the Explorer module, and we used the included CD to install its software on our computer. The installation was easy and seamless. The kids were instantly able to use both the still and video cameras. The whole system is small enough to take on outings. The buttons on the game console were straight forward and easy to figure out. The 4 year old needed some assistance with how to center photos, but it didn't take her long to catch on. She was also quickly adept at using the special effects software, and she has been having a blast with it.
At four, she needs assistance with PC connections, and file transfers, but, for the most part, she can use the system quite competently on her own. The ten year old intuitively knew how to work everything. The only problem we had was which kid had control of the system! That problem persists.
The video and photo quality is quite good, certainly far better than what has been available in the past. It is terrific to be able to transfer the files to the computer, since the memory on the system fills up quickly, especially with videos. It is easy to transfer and delete data from the card to keep it ready to record.
The Explorer system with the camera attachment is now the favorite video game/camera system in the house, and the interest is not diminishing at all.
The computer interaction for parents for this system is great.
The only change we have to make is to purchase the charger available for the Explorer, since we sure are running through a lot of batteries!
I can't recommend this system highly enough, it is very impressive, and great fun for everyone.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 23, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was asked to test this camera in conjunction with the LeapFrog Explorer system. I immediately gave it to my 3 year old twins for the "true" test.

My kids are pretty tech savie...both can operate my iPad, they have their own laptop, and play around with our digital point and shoot camera already. I thought this would be a natural fit for them.

My kids were interested in the LeapFrog explorer for a little while, but found it overly cumbersome to get to the picture taking capability. Too much manipulation of the main system was required to get to the camera to take pictures. They were used to simply hitting the power button and immediately snapping pictures on the point and shoot that we have.

Also, the camera resolution on this thing is pretty terrible. At only 640x480, the images were grainy, poorly lit, etc. The kids typically use our Canon point and shoot which has a flash on it so it helps freeze the action of them running around. This LeapFrog camera has no flash so the images are blurred.

Downloading the images to the computer is harder task than simply dropping the SD memory card into the card reader. The offload process is definitely too complicated for a kid to do it by themself.

All in all, I would recommend that if a parent is interested in a digital camera for their kids I would go with the Crayola Digital Camera for kids that is about $29.99 at the local Costco or Walmart. That one has a flash, 3MP resolution, and seems much more durable.

PROS:
- FUN DIGITAL CAMERA FOR YOUNG KIDS
- WORKS WITH LEAPFROG EXPLORER (IF YOU ALREADY HAVE BOUGHT IT!)

CONS:
- REQUIRES THE EXISTING LEAPFROG EXPLORER PURCHASE
- POOR IMAGE QUALITY
- NO FLASH
- DIFFICULT OFFLOAD
- SLOW STARTUP TIME TO GET TO CAMERA
- QUESTIONABLE DURABILTY
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 13, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For parents who already own a Leapster, this accessory is a very worthwhile add-on. It'll provide your child with countless hours of enjoyment as well as an excellent outlet for creative expression. Who knows. You may be nurturing the next Ansel Adams, Michael Bay, or Annie Leibovitz. With it, your child can take snapshots or video of whatever catches his/her attention, then engage in fun learning/playtime activities with the recordings. With photos, he/she can draw all over them, stretching them, adding scribbles, pattern stamps, or fracture them into puzzle pieces to reconstruct in a game called Photo Fracture. With a game called Zapped, kids can practice spelling or math by shooting the numbers or letters with a space ship. They can customize the background, ship and bad guys with their own photos.

With videos, your child can set them to one of several pre-recorded music choices to make a music video. This is really fun and cheesy. I chose a track that sounded like Inspector Gadget's theme song and walked around my kitchen. The result was hilarious, and I'm a jaded adult/technology reviewer. Just think of how much fun your child will have doing this.

The camera does, however, have some flaws that kept it from being a 5-star product:

SETUP REQUIRED:
One con is that the add-on is not plug 'n' play out of the box. It requires manual setup and you need to have access to the computer you installed the LeapFrog software on. First, you have to unscrew the slot cover at the bottom of the Leapster, plug in the camera, then connect it to your computer via USB cable to download the 45 MB software for the device. Starting up the camera is a bit slow. After selecting the Camera icon from the main menu, the screen goes black for about 5-8 seconds. There's no loading animation like a circle spinning or other indicator, making me think it's not responding.

MEDIOCRE CAMERA IMAGE QUALITY:
Do not expect great digital image clarity with the camera. Do not expect even good image quality. First and foremost, it is a toy, and will give you toy-quality photos. The resolution is 640x480 and colors are very muddy due to high JPEG compression (a sacrifice in order to fit more photos into the internal memory). Please see the gallery for some sample photos I took of my kitchen. Your child probably won't care, but this a consideration, especially if you are asked to print out the photos. At 640x480, the prints will not look good (640x480 = 307k pixels, compared to the 5-8 megapixel cameras most grown-ups have).

Also, there's no zoom feature or ability for your child to take a picture of him/herself because the camera faces the back of the unit.

With videos, the recording resolution is 320x200. The frame rate is very slow and choppy, as you can see from the sample video. If you move around very slowly, the camera will be OK, but given how active kids are, you're likely to be a proud parent of a child showing you a blurry video. The microphone is adequate. You can hear the ambient noises it picked up in my video.

DOWNLOADING IMAGES AND VIDEOS TO COMPUTER:
This is a great feature. You can download all the photos and images taken by your child to your PC or Mac. From there, you can upload it to Flickr, YouTube, email it, Facebook it, whatever. Unfortunately, you can't export the music videos created with Video Maestro.

SUMMARY
Despite the technical limitations of the camera, this product is still a lot of fun to play with. If you already have a Leapster, I highly recommend this add-on. It'll open up entire new avenues of exploration and entertainment for your child. He/she can unlock badges by doing different things (like take 10 photos, make a music video) as further encouragement to interact with the unit. A lot of fun and sure to create many funny moments for parent and child alike.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's taken a long time, but finally someone is putting together technology toys that will get attract a kid's interest, pull her in, and keep her coming back. This Camera & Video Recorder is a perfect example.

You can read the features above. Here's the actual experience at a family gathering: Tell Sally that there's now a camera built into the Leapster. Sally picks up Leapster, impatiently waits through the automatic verbal explanation of how the camera works, then starts taking pictures. Lots of pictures. Then she starts coloring the pictures, stamping bugs on the pictures, and stretching the pictures. Sally now runs around saying "Look at this one! Look at this one!" Much laughter.

Next Bobby, who's a year older, pushes the record button that starts the video recorder. Soon we are watching videos of toys, noses, dogs eating, dogs perking up when Bobby calls their names, and dogs being chased.

The software includes other games, like a puzzle maker (turns photos into simple jigsaw puzzles with geometric shapes), a music video recorder (pick music, then record a video to go with it), and photo assignments (go take photos of the assigned letters and words). The music video maker was hit, but Bobby and Sally were a bit young for the others.

Here's what I really like: The kids immediately understood how to use the age-appropriate applications, like the picture coloring and the music video maker. There is no manual, long instructions, or complex interface. Bobby passed around the Leapster to show off the album of photos and videos, and explained to each adult in turn how to flip through the album. I'm sure the video assignments and other games will capture their attention as they get a little older.

We've all seen technology toys that get it wrong, either though complexity or shallowness. In this case, Leapfrog got it right. It's fun, it's reasonably priced, it makes nice photos and videos that can be uploaded to your computer, and I think the kids will come back for more. Recommended for all Leapster Explorer owners.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2011
We are HUGE fans of Leap Frog, especially the Leapster line. But not only did this product never arrive (Amazon did send us a replacement) it broke within the 1st year (wouldn't boot up properly, when you touched the volume it would turn off the actual device then eventually it had no volume, many times during the middle of play it would freeze).

Leap Frog did send us a replacement, as we thought for sure we had a lemon (since 2 other previous versions of the Leapsters have lasted 7+ years suffering incredible wear-and-tear) but this replacement is only a few months old and is already acting odd... when you touch the volume it goes back to the main menu and sometimes during the middle of a movie it randomly goes back to the main menu.

Quite shocked and disappointed but we're still loyal fans of Leap Frog for the time being - we plan to order the new Leap Pad and will see how this one holds up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 25, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let me start by saying my 5 1/2 year old daughter LOVES her Leapster Explorer... She wants to play it all the time (as does her 3 1/2 year old brother). We have a hard time getting her to put it down. That said, this review is SPECIFICALLY for the camera and video recorder attachment, which isn't quite as delightful. (note that many of the posted reviews are NOT providing separate feedback for the camera/video attachment, which you purchase separately).

The camera video attachment is a bit cumbersome. You must unscrew a panel on the bottom and plug it in. Make sure you do not lose the screw and plate (in this day and age, isn't there a more elegant solution than two separate pieces you can lose?). you plug in the attachment which becomes a protrusion on the device..

Pros: Photos can be edited and manipulated, she's intersted in using the camera attachment
Cons: must unscrew a panel to connect the camera (and you might lose the panel/screw), no flash, only 680 x 480 resolution (terrible), video is choppy, very little memory (a short video and 17 pictures filled it up), not that easy to use (the menu navigation on the Leapster, in general, is not completely intuitive compared to, say, an iPhone. My daughter has a much easier time on an iPhone or iPad).

All in all, I wish they had integrated the camera and charged us $20 more (and possibly thrown in a flash?). In the meanwhile, I'd suggest that you let your child enjoy their Leapster Explorer and get them a separate, durable camera, like the VTech KidZoom Digital Camera. You'll spend $20 more, but will avoid a lot of inconvenience.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a photographer with 30 years experience I'm a bit torn about recommending this camera. On one hand, it _is_ a toy. On the other hand, it's not that great a camera.

If you already own Leapster this is a bargain. At about $25 retail (ignore the higher pre-Christmas high prices) this little cam does a lot. Picture puzzles, story telling, drawing/artwork over the photos are just a few things you can do with this. Once it's installed it's also pretty easy to use by child.

With that said, be aware of the drawbacks. As others have noted, there's no flash. Back in the day you could buy a cheap 110 camera and they all came with a flash. It's just about mandatory so this is a major flaw. I was also a bit put off by the deceiving outside box illustrations which show a brightly lit child singing for a music video shot. This makes it appear the camera comes with a flash when in fact the only way that shot was taken was with existing high wattage lights. The box also mentions being able to print photos. At such a low resolutions this would be a waste of money. And lastly, the video function might as well not even be there. The frames per second are so low that any movement at all results in blurring. And kids move fast.

I think this device is going to be better for younger kids up to about age 7. (Your mileage may vary.) If you have an 8 or 9 year old aspiring photographer get them a an older cheap digital camera. The market is flooded with such cameras you can get for well under $50 - and all of them will have a flash and all of them will shoot higher resolution. Then you'll have photos you'll actually want to print. As for younger children, this is a neat toy and will help them be creative. I know I would have loved this camera as a kid!

A side rant - after using this and the Mobigo system I'm a little put off with all the necessary parental intervention that's required for these gadgets. If your child had an iPod all they'd have to do is plug it into the computer and iTunes would do the rest. This camera, like all these new "educational" handheld devices, requires you to figure out how to attach the camera and how to connect Leapster to your computer. No, it's not that difficult. But how many busy parents want to deal with this hassle?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 19, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Camera and Video Recorder makes this toy into one the kids can't get enough of. The three year old, who was the one I was intending it for, basically takes pictures and totally enjoys doing so. She carries it around and asks people to pose for her.

Then the seven and nine year old kids tried it and they were enjoying writing the stories and illustrating them with pictures and then drawing or morphing the pictures into some really weird ones. The alphabet game was good for two since one was posing in the shape of the letter while the other shot the pic. And the storybooks were fun as they "wrote" their story and then discussed what pic to take to illustrate it.

There are so many possibilities for creativity. The Leapster Explorer is a great product as are the ones before it but the addition of the camera/recorder just makes this a must-have item for ages 3-10.
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