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508 of 541 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT compatible with Leapster2, PRICY games,.... but we still LIKE it. (and some tips/ideas)
UPDATE AUG 2012
===================
If you're looking for a LeapFrog game system,
you should really be looking at Leapfrog's latest consoles.
The LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer, Green. and the LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer.

I'd go for the LeapPad 2.

.
.
.
.

UPDATE 30 AUG 2011:
===================
It...
Published on July 3, 2010 by Aquarius

versus
1,078 of 1,105 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in LeapFrog
To be fair, we've only played with one cartridge game and three leaplets so far, but I am thoroughly disappointed in LeapFrog right now. I will come back and update the review if the next few cartridge games end up being incredible.

My biggest beef is with the built in advertising. First off, for every new user you create, the leapster goes through a minute...
Published on July 21, 2010 by J. Hancock


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1,078 of 1,105 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in LeapFrog, July 21, 2010
By 
J. Hancock (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
To be fair, we've only played with one cartridge game and three leaplets so far, but I am thoroughly disappointed in LeapFrog right now. I will come back and update the review if the next few cartridge games end up being incredible.

My biggest beef is with the built in advertising. First off, for every new user you create, the leapster goes through a minute long ad insidiously called the "connect movie" about playing online and downloading leaplets, telling the child "for your included game, ask your parents to connect your Leapster Explorer to your computer, now" and again at the end, "for great games and more on your Leapster Explorer, ask your parents to connect now." Gee, thanks LeapFrog, and since you only get one free game per toy, not per user, this isn't even accurate. Once you're done with that, you reach the main screen where your child can re-watch this "movie" as many times as they want by clicking what looks to be one of the game icons.

A second built in icon on the main screen really jumps out because the little pet you can create always starts out standing in front of it and it looks like a old movie reel. It's the first button my four year old taps each time she turns on the leapster. Guess what? Is it a game? No, of course not, it's just a bunch of trailers for different games and it looks like it's maybe going to be automatically updated with new trailers as new games come out. I'm guessing this because the narrator tells your child "It looks like you've got some new trailers to watch - play away!" in a super excited voice. Back to the question of "is it a game", if you set the filter in the top left corner to only show games, the "connect movie" does disappear but the trailers icon stays. LeapFrog, if you're reading this, please correct this! LeapFrog might think this is a good business model but this kind of marketing to kids just makes me want to walk away from any future LeapFrog products.

As for the games themselves, my daughter so far seems to like the Mr. Pencil game. As for the leaplet games, I agree with another poster that you wouldn't pay more than $1.99 for an iPhone app of similar quality vs the $7.50 that each one costs. In my opinion, the leaplet game Wheel Works isn't even worth a penny. What a waste of money.

All of that being said, the screen clarity is amazing, the interface is easily navigated by my four year old, and LeapFrog has the potential for an amazing product here. That's why I'm giving it a 2 instead of a 1. They just need to respect the fact that we've already spent $70 on the toy and $75 on three more cartridges and $22 on three leaplet games and don't want our children to be marketed to directly to buy more on the darn toy that we've already put $150+ into.
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329 of 342 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Leapster 2 has more educational content than new Leapster Explorer, August 7, 2010
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
My 3 year old son got this about two months ago, I agree with other reviews that say this toy is amazing, better graphics, the screen sensitivity is higher and the kids are drawn by this new leapster explorer, you can download applications very similarly than on an Iphone and your kids gets to read books that are already out on TAG. However, there is no camera like they had said there would be, there are endless commercials every time your child turns on the leapster explorer and the games are less educational than those leapfrog currently has on the market for leapster 2. Furthermore, the leapster explorer is more expensive than the Leapster 2 and the games are too pricey for the little educational content they provide. Educationally wise Leapster 2 is still the best choice out there, why do I say this? Well if you compare the games of leapster 2 (which I own all of them), to the games available for leapster explorer you will come to the conclusion that leapster 2 games has much better content for children ages 4 -8, even the older games for plain first generation leapster are more educationally inclined than the leapster explorer ones. Vocabulary wise, reading wise, math wise and simply on every scholastic level they seem to have better examples, better skill development, and create a better foundation for skills that every child needs to develop later in their educational life (such as algebra, science, etc). The Leaspter 2 also has the benefit of fewer commercials or need to be buying new games to develop a new skill. My main concern with leapster explorer, it seems that leapfrog has decided to put their marketing and money making ambitions above learning expectations. The games are fun YES, the kids will love this toy YES, but your child will not learn as much as he or she would with the leapster 2. I understand that leapfrog is a business and they need to make money, but this new toy is targeted to make our children learn to ask and ask for the next game.

****Update: This toy breaks easily, my leapsters 2 are still working and running and I bought them over a year ago. But no, not my leapster explorers which were bought this june they are both now not working!!! One has a screen broken because my son dropped it (which happens with kids their age 4 and 3). The other is just not turning on at all. I called leapfrog and talked to several people from customer service and they told me to basically buy another one, the warranty doesn't cover it since its more than 90 days from the day of purchase. For such expensive toys I expected better warranty.
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508 of 541 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT compatible with Leapster2, PRICY games,.... but we still LIKE it. (and some tips/ideas), July 3, 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
UPDATE AUG 2012
===================
If you're looking for a LeapFrog game system,
you should really be looking at Leapfrog's latest consoles.
The LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer, Green. and the LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer.

I'd go for the LeapPad 2.

.
.
.
.

UPDATE 30 AUG 2011:
===================
It has been almost a year since my last update on this review.
I'll try to keep it short. If/when I have some more time available I will update it a bit furhter.
For now the update is that the Explorer has provided many play/learn time for our son, but to be frank, his interest and focus has shifted more to the nintendo DS. He's also discovered games on the internet, PC, Wii, cellphones, smartphones, etc. etc.. But thankfully he's still interested in educational games (no matter what platform).

Anyway, we still think the Explorer is a great educational system, especially for kids 5 and younger. As they get older they'll discover other platforms, ... we can't hide it from them forever, but that's also probably a good thing, since they'll be growing up in a much more 'connected'-world.

Also if you are reading this, it's good to know that LeapFrog has recently (I believe it was this month, august 2011) made available a new system LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet (green). I haven't research it yet. Probably won't be buying it (since our son is focused on other platforms right now), but I might research it when I have some time availbale. I've only read one review, which was pretty positive on it. If you are looking into LeapFrog systems you should probably check it out.

***********************

UPDATE 3 OCT 2010:
It has been 3 months now and, so far so good. The Explorer is still going strong. Our son still enjoys playing with both systems (Leapster2 and Explorer). And we've now added LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game: eGlobe (Globe Earth Adventures) to the game collection.

Be aware that connecting the Explorer online the very 1st time will take about one hour! Connecting online is an add-on feature for if you want to go to LeapWorld or check the "learning path". If you have a cartridge game, you do not need to connect online to use it. You can just plug it in and use it. I've added a tip on connecting online at the end of the review (in order to keep this update brief).

*****

REVIEW 3 JUL 2010:
If you're currently looking for an educational handheld system for kids 4-9, then you should consider the Explorer. Let me start by saying I'm a fan of the Leapfrog concept (educational handheld system for young kids). So perhaps I'm a bit biased. But we are also honest, so if we don't like it, we'll say it. Our son got a Leapster L-Max Leapster L-Max Learning Game System when he was 4. He loved it and the games he has for it. Unfortunately the L-Max was not durable (you can check my review on it). We then got him a Leapster2 LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Game System - Green just last january. The Leapster2 turned out to be much better and durable (you can check my review on it also).

And now Leapfrog has come out with the Leapster Explorer. I'm a bit disappointed and bothered by the fact that LeapFrog just brings out this completely new system, while we just got the Leapster2 six months ago. Still I've become such a fan of the concept I decided to get it anyway. Perhaps you can best check the Explorer, it's functionality and specs out at the LeapFrog site. You will find all specs and functionality there.

There are several games available for the Explorer, including: Toy Story 3, The penguins of Madagascar, Disney Princess, Ni Hao, Mr. Pencil, Sponge Bob, and Dora. Most are available on Amazon, otherwise check the Leapfrog site.

But be aware that the games for the Explorer, as the games for the Leapster2, are pricy. Twenty-five box each. (The Leapster2 games you can get at better prices now.) You need at least one game cartridge. And kids will want to switch games from time to time. You won't need a ton of games but a collection of 3 or 4 games will be nice. For example we have a collection of 6 games for the Leapster2 (collected over a period of 1,5 year). Two he got as a present (thankfully), three we bought, and one we downloaded (free) from Leapfrog. He likes them all, and offers him plenty of variety.

In any case, if you're getting a handheld educational system, remember that you'll need to get a few game cartridges. Consider the cost of the Explorer plus one initial game cartridge. And then be prepared to spend the cost of another game or two in the near future. Be prepared to spend/invest this amount, otherwise your kid(s), and you as a parent, will be greatly disappointed.

What also helped us in justifying the investment in LeapFrog system, is that we rather have our son playing with an educational system, than with mindless addictive game systems, which there are so many around. At least with LeapFrog he's learning.

Another advice I can provide is to get the rechargeable system LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Recharger , or get rechargeable batteries!!! Really,.... this will save you a LOT of money on batteries. LeapFrog does not recommend using rechargeable batteries, but advertise to use their rechargeable system. I don't understand why. They claim normal rechargeable batteries will not work well with the system. But we use Duracell Value Charger With 4AA Pre Charged Rechargeable Nimh Batteries, CEF14DX4N (they are less expensive than the LeapFrog recharge system), and they work just fine for us. But no matter which option you choose, either one will SAVE you money!

Another tip might be, if you're planning a long trip/travel with the kids in the near future, then maybe you want to wait till just before your trip to get the system. It might be an idea to include it in your budget for your trip/vacation. We got our first LeapFrog system (the L-Max) just prior to a vacation with a long flight. We were so happy we did. It provided a lot of entertainment for our son during the long flight. But also at airports, during long car rides, in malls, and at the hotel. Besides providing him with educational-entertainment, it also provided us with a lot of piece of mind, so we could enjoy the relaxing time during those long flights, car rides, and strolling through malls, till we got to where he could also enjoy the sights and/or vacation activities.

One other thing you need to know is that the games for the Leapster2 and the Explorer are NOT compatible. So the games for the Leaspter2 will not work with the Explorer. You will need to get new games for the Explorer. Apparently the games for the Didj LeapFrog® Didj Custom Learning Gaming System are compatible but you may loose some of the functionality of the games (at least that's what I'm reading). You would need to get new games for the Explorer. This must be a big disappointment for customers who already own one of the other Leapfrog systems (Leapster, L-Max, Leapster2 or Didj). I certainly was. But I decided to try it out anyway.

Beside the fact that the Leapster2 games are NOT compatible, we still do like the Leapster Explorer. It has ton of functionality and better specs than the Leapster2. Bigger and better screen, more memory and faster processor. You can also expand the Explore with a camera. You will have to buy the camera expansion separately though. So that's additional cost. Our son doesn't have a camera yet. So that maybe an option for the future, but for now we'll wait. Maybe over a couple of months or so.

I can't say yet which one our son likes most, the Explorer or the Leapster2. He is very happy with the Explorer. We bought the Toy Story 3 game with the system. It's perfect timing from LeapFrog. We just saw the Toy Story 3 at the movies. At our 5 year old enjoyed it and now he can play with the characters on the Explorer. These days he's playing the Explorer of course, but he's hasn't forgotten his Leapster2. After all he has six games with the Leapster2 and only one with the Explorer. I don't think he's aware of the better screen. He notices it's bigger, but he gets caught up in the games, so I don't think he really cares.

From a kid (4, 5 or 6 year) points of view, I don't think they really care for the better specs or more functionality. They probably just want to play the games. But parents will probably appreciate the better specs and the additional functionality.

We're happy he likes the Toy Story game, and doesn't bother much with the games on the system itself (yet). Nor does he bother with the 'trailer movie'. The pet game apparently requires you to connect to "buy", virtual food, and/or shampoo, but it's with virtual money, NOT real money. In any case,... I have little time to connect and go online for my son with the Explorer. Maybe when he's older. But for now, we just showed him how to get to where he can start a cartridge game. Just click to close the introduction,... and then you get to where you can choose cartridge game. It's pretty easy and straight forward, so our 5 year old has no trouble with this. This way you also skip the `trailer movie',... so he's not bothered with the ads, and reminders to connect and go online.

There's a whole virtual world online for the Explorer. I'm a bit uncertain yet of the virtual earning and spending of virtual money for kids in this virtual world. I'm thinking it can help with educating about earning, spending and saving. But you know,.. we can do that in the real world too. We always to this anyway already, when he sees advertisement on TV, or in stores (not only toy stores). Explaining what things costs, what costs more, what costs less, when something is needed, when it's nice to have etc. He usually understands. At times it's even an incentive for him to save in his treasure chest (piggy bank) to later buy something he really likes. Who knows, maybe it will help further in educating on earning, spending, saving ect. But as I said, for now, we won't be connecting a lot, so this is not an issue for us.

By the way, we do regulate our son to the use of the Leapster2, and now the Explorer. Or to any other game system. We do have an old Nintendo system at home, he likes to play that also a lot, but we keep that to a bare minimum. Once a week, an hour or so, or preferably even less, once a month (till he completely forgets about, ... you know,... "Mario".). As for the LeapFrog systems, even being educational system, we don't want him spending all his time on it. So we have a range of one to two hours a day. (Except when we are traveling or special occasions, then he's allowed to play longer if he wants.) We often also have him skipped a day or more. Sometimes even a week or two. There's plenty of other activities to do than just playing on a system.

We can't say anything on durability yet. We had a bad experience with the L-Max, but the Leapster2 was a success and very proofed to be durable. I expect the Explorer to be durable, simply because I think Leapfrog must have learned from experience now. In any case I will update this review should the need arise.

It is also good to know, that Leapfrog has a reasonable customer service. Check it on their website. If anything is wrong with your item, they will help, but you need to contact them and be prepared to be polite, persistent, and to have a lot of patience. For example, we were able to get a replacement for our L-Max. Although it took quite some e-mails to their customer support, they did come through at the end.

Be sure you keep the invoice of the item you buy in a safe place, (and remember where you put it). You will need it if you have to make use of the warranty.

Leapfrog currently has a warranty period of 3 months for all their products, which I think is a bit short. A warranty period of 6 months would give customers much more confidence, and would certainly help the customer in his/her buying decision. But as I mentioned, I expect LeapFrog to have learned from experience, so I hope and expect the Explorer to be at least as durable as the Leapster2. Time will tell.

I'm reading that the Explorer also might need calibration from time to time (just as the other Leapfrog systems). So if your Explorer suddenly appears not to be functioning, don't panic. Chances are you just need to recalibrate it. It's simple. Here are the steps. You can also find them on the Leapfrog support site.
Follow these steps to calibrate the Leapster Explorer screen:

-Turn power on.
-When the SIGN-IN menu appears, press the left D-pad and Hint button at the same time.
-This will give you the PARENT SETTINGS menu.
-Touch the crosshair icon with the stylus. A large crosshair icon will appear in the center of the screen.
-Touch this icon with the stylus and this will bring up the SCREEN CALIBRATION procedure.
-Touch each of the crosshairs (5 in all) with the stylus as they appear.
-Press the B button to exit as the calibration is completed.

I hope this is helpful information. Thanks for reading.

*******
TIP ADDED 3 OCT 2010 - Going online:
The Explorer is pretty much plug-and-play. You don't need to connect it to your PC to play, or setup or synchronize. There's a basic setup the very first time, (name of kid) but that's all. After that it's just insert a cartridge, select and play.

As for connecting to your PC/internet, this is for when you want to go to the LeapFrog World, and also check out the "learning path". You do not need to connect to use the Explorer. As said, it's only when you want to connect to LeapFrog World and/or check the learning path.

Connecting the Explorer to the computer/internet the very 1st time will take about one hour!!! Install the connect software on your computer, follow the instructions, then connect the Explorer to your computer, then start the LeapFrog Connect program you just installed (make sure you are connected to the internet), and then... just let it be! Just wait for about one hour.

The reason it takes so long the 1st time, is because it needs to "synchronize". You may not get a message or sign telling you it's synchronizing,... so just give it an hour time. If you don't succeed, probably best to just contact the customer support.

*******
UPDATE 14 NOV 2010:
The, 'trailer/ad-movie' was never an issue for us,... if you are wondering,... it never was or became an issue for us,... because in our case, our son was/is more interested in the cartridge games. In the beginning he did asked a few times for this Pet game, ... but since I would have to help him with connecting ect,... and do not always have the time,... to help him out with this,..... and also because I was already not very found of the connect experience with the Leapster2,... (I think I've mentioned this somewhere in the review already)... Anyway, I explained to our son from the beginning that we would not be able to connect, to play this game. And we directed his attention to the cartridge games,... which he thankfully, likes sufficiently, not to bothered with the trailer movie, the pet game, or going online. He just clicks to close the introduction splash, and then selects the cartridge game icon, to play a cartridge game. So this issue never really bothered us, or our son.

That's it for my view on this aspect,...

To be honest, I can hardly imagine I'd be adding any more info on this review.
Ah well,...In any case, .... thanks for reading.

***
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91 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great eduactional game system but...., December 3, 2010
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
UPDATE AUG 2012
===================
Check out Leapfrog's latest consoles.
The LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer, Green and the LeapFrog LeapsterGS Explorer.
I'd go for the LeapPad 2.

UPDATE 20 DEC 2011:
===================
The review below is from dec 2010. Back then, the price of the pink system, appeared much higher than that of the green one. It seems the price has been adapted later, not sure when. Now, dec 2011, I notice this pink system is actaully a bit lower than the green one (but the difference is much closer then what it was in dec 2010). In any case, apparently prices tend to fluctuate somewhat, so you may want to check the price.

By the way, for those interested in the more recent systems, LeapFrog has a more recent system (as of august 2011 I think). It's the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet (Green). I'm not familiar with the LeapPad, but you could check the reviews by other reviewers on it. But the Explorer is also still a very good system.

****************************

REVIEW DEC 2010 ON PINK EXPLORER:
=================================
This is a great eduactional game system but,.... did the price just go up (dec 1st 2010?), on both, the pink and green version??? LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System (Green) Seems that way. I supose it has to do with the holidays.

A few points to consider:
1) This is a nice, very handy, and practical system to have if you are planning a long trip (great for long car trip, or airplane). Will keep kids entertained. It is both fun and educational. With a nice, and very bright screen.

2) But get at least one cartridge game to play with it from the start. The cartridge games are better, then going online to download games. Toy Story 3, Mr. Pencil, Dora are nice games to start with.

3) Keep in mind that the cartridge games are pricy ($25). You probably won't need to have a whole lot, but a set of 3 to 4 cartridge games, would be nice for the kids.

4) Check LeapFrog site for details, demo explorer, game titles, deals, etc.

5) Chances are you won't have any technical problems with the unit, but save your invoice anyway. You never know. You will need it if you have a technical problem with the unit. LeapFrog has a 3 month warranty period.

6) Connecting online is somewhat cumbersome and it's better to do this in a later stage when you have lot of time, and kids are already familiar with the unit.

7) Do not expect much from connecting online. I've done it a couple of times and personally I still find it quite cumbersome, and I don't really find it useful (yet). I don't like the online games either, nor do I have the time, to connect and have kids play online.

8) If your unit suddenly seems unresponsive, don't panic. Chance are your unit just need recalibration. Check the LeapFrog site (support tab) or contact there customer support (via the LeapFrog website)

9) Get rechargeable batteries. This will save you a lot of money on batteries.

10) This pink unit costs more then the green version. I have no idea why. Except the color, they are exactly the same. You may want to check the green version, unless you really really want/need the pink one.

****
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explorer is a great learning experience, February 19, 2011
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I got the Explorer for my daughter for Christmas. I didnt get it through amazon but I wanted to review the item. I took a few weeks reading reviews and checking stores to see which system I wanted. Either the leapster2 or the explorer. I finally decided on the explorer and Im so glad I did. My sister got the Leapster2 and the graphics are 100 times better on the explorer so I made a great choice. Just a tidbit in case anyone else is trying to decide between the 2. I got my daughter a few cartridge games and she loves all of them. Her favorite is between the Dora and Mr. Pencil. She plays this game all the time and shes learning while shes playing. We go through a ton of batteries though but I just got the recharging system so that will eliminate that problem. I think this game is a great learning toy. I'm so glad I purchased this item and my daughter tells me everytime she plays it that she loves it.
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107 of 116 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Something to think about..., October 30, 2010
By 
Cindy M (Trabuco Canyon, CA USA) - See all my reviews
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
I just returned our Leapster Explorer (with all the games and accessories) for a reason you may not have considered. The device comes with pre-installed games. One is a Pet Society-like game in which the user has pets to care for. Although this doesn't seem like a bad thing, every time my son turned on the Leapster and clicked on the pet game, it would tell him to connect to the computer and buy shampoo or food or whatever. Because it was located on the start-up page, there is no avoiding the game. Imagine how frustrating it is to have a 4-year-old repeatedly ask to connect to the computer because the game doesn't work. Imagine the frustration for the child to have a game that he cannot play. (Sarcasm: nice birthday present, Mom and Dad.) Does LeapFrog think this is appropriate for 4- to 9-year-olds to understand? As a grown-up, I can "X" out of pop-up ads and move on. A young child cannot. I may consider down-grading to the Leapster 2. But then again, I am still pretty irritated and may not buy anything from them. He can wait for a Nintendo.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Product for a kids' toy (but gathering dust now), November 17, 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
Update 2012: Sadly, this is never played with. All she wants is to watch her downloaded TV shows on the iPAD.

Update to review two months after purchase: I received an iPad for Christmas, and now my daughter rarely touches the Explorer. However, she will fight me for the iPAD and use it whenever she can. There are so many great apps and books available for the iPAD all at a very low cost - with more coming out all the time, and you can also watch videos/movies. I LOVE my iPAD, and in hindsight, wish I hadn't bought the explorer. The iPAD is several orders of magnitude neater than the explorer. It is more expensive, but if you don't get the cellular enabled version, it's not that different once you add in the cost of all of the games (about $20 a piece) and the charging station. Also, you can use it when they are not using it!

A parent we met while travelling said that she bought a used iPhone on e-bay for her daughter and uses that as a gaming device. If I didn't have the iPAD, I would do that as well. I've noticed other small kids playing with iPhones in restaurants, and I think that buying a used one and not activating it is a good, cheap solution.

I got frustrated with the annoying process for purchasing the leaplets and the expensive (and few) games. Also, I ran into a few frustrating software bugs with one of the leaplets and with the Mr. Pencil game. I'm sure we'll still use the explorer sometime in the future (I hope!), but for now, the iPAD is her favorite toy, and she would only choose the leapster if I take away the iPAD. That said, the penguin game for the explorer is fun, and she loves the little frog learning leaplet videos.

Original review right after I bought it: This is our first electronics product for our 5 year old daughter, and we had not planned to buy one until she was much older, if ever. However, we are going to take a *very* long road trip over Christmas, and the idea of a handheld gaming device became very seductive. I researched the Nintendo DS and DSi very thoroughly as well as some of the competitors to the Explorer. I was almost scared away due to some of the reviews about the difficulty of set-up the first time and the annoying initial pop-up screen prompting the user to connect to the website. However, now that I have had a chance to play with it, I'm very impressed. I'll make a few comments on the products I researched as well as address some of the negative comments I'd read about the Explorer here and other places on the internet.

Explorer:
- Start-up before first time of play: You can insert a game cartridge, power on, type in the date, language, child's name, and grade level, and start playing right out of the box. It took me well under 5 minutes from opening the package to inserting the batteries to happily playing the Disney Princess game. The console does not require you to connect to the computer unless you want to take advantage of the additional features that brings. Those features do look pretty nifty and will add more life to the games especially for older children, but from my point of view, what they don't know about, they won't miss. The Disney Princess game looks like it will keep my 5 year old occupied for quite some time esp. when mixed in with the other two game cartridges I bought. That said, I will probably get around to connecting to the Leapfrog website at some point. However, if I had a 3 or 4 year old, I wouldn't bother to even consider it - after all - the point of this product is to keep her happily occupied in the car or other places - not to create extra work for me.

- The introductory splash screen prompting you to connect to the website: It is easy to click the "close" button, and I can't foresee any issues with showing a young child how to do this. That also takes care of the problems other parents have with the pet feature - needing to go to the website to feed it, play with it, etc. Again, what they don't know about, they won't miss.

- The video advertisements for new games: I haven't run into this yet. After you close the introductory splash screen, the unit displays little icons for each game. It is easy enough to show your child the correct icon to click for the game in the cartridge, and while the idea of the video ads is annoying, it's not the end of the world and no different from any DVD you would buy that would require you to suffer through the previews - except in this case, you don't even have to encounter the ads if you just click on the game icon.

- Lack of backward compatibility with Leapster 2 and complaints that if Nintendo DS can do it, why not Leapfrog: I'm on Leapfrog's side here. For one thing, this product is approx half price of the DS, and for another, even Nintendo broke compatibility from the old Gameboy cartridges with their new DSI. This product looks to be a new platform under the skin with a much better processor and more capability for future expansion. I can see why Leapfrog needed to make the technology leap, and my hope is that they'll add new titles to this to appeal to older kids so that they can be competitive to Nintendo in the 8+ age range so that when my daughter is older, I can buy the next generation of this Explorer and have something she'll use into her teenage years. Or conversely, maybe with a little more competition, Nintendo might come out with a broader selection of educational titles. One other comment is that Leapfrog is still coming out with new games for the Leapster 2, so there is not a forced upgrade.

- Limited number of titles: I would love to see all of my daughter's favorite characters, but even the limited selection available now will keep kids busy for a long time and target both boys and girls with some of the "must have" characters, such as Tinkerbell and Disney princesses.

- Some things I really like about the Explorer (so far): The games are a good mix of fun and learning. I saw some complaints that they are "too fun" and light on the learning, but I don't need for every single segment of the game to be a learning experience. This game platform isn't a substitution for a quality preschool or kindergarten. The instructions are easy to hear and understand and simple. The pace of play is nice and slow and easy to stop at a good breaking point to resume later. Also, at least for the Disney Princess game, you can choose the point in the game where you want to start vs. starting at the beginning every time. I also like the variety of activities from within the game itself. And the graphics are very nice with clear, crisp, and colorful pictures.

Nintendo DS: I almost bought this because it is at a good price-point now, especially if you get a used one off of ebay, and is backward compatible with Gameboy games. There are tons of Gameboy and DS titles for all of my daughter's favorite Barbie, princess, and My Little Pony characters. I was very tempted to buy one. However, I didn't because of two reasons (1) I read that most of the games require at least a first grade reading ability - or a parent helping - at least until the child gets very familiar with the game and (2) There is no apparent educational value to the games that I could find (of course I haven't played them). I fundamentally believe that time spent on electronic games, TV, and movies takes away valuable time that the child could be using to do something more beneficial developmentally, so if she's going to have her nose buried in a game, I'd like for it to at least have some educational value. Otherwise, I just see it as candy for the brain - full of empty calories - and I'd rather just tote activity workbooks, paper, and crayons with me on trips/long car rides, which is what I do now. In the car, she'll happily spend 30 minutes working on those $2 - 4 K-1 workbooks you can buy in any Walgreens. The only downside is that she has to keep handing the workbook to me to read the instructions for each new page.

Nintendo DSi: New generation of above; not backward compatible with Gameboy games.

Gameboy: Two versions - original, which does not have a backlit screen, and a newer one, which does. Both can be gotten off of e-bay very cheaply, esp. the original with no backlit screen. But again- little educational value I can see. However, for about $15, you can get a used original Gameboy off of e-bay, add a light for another $10 and have access to tons of used games under $5 each.

New Fisher Price iXL: Toys R Us website rated it for 3 - 5 year olds vs. the manufacturer's recommended 3 - 7, and that combined with the difference in recommendation for the Explorer (Toys R Us 4 - 6 I think and manufacturer 4 - 9) made me worried that my daughter might outgrow it sooner than she would outgrow the Explorer. But it looks like a neat product also and would be a good choice. If I had a 3 year old, I would have considered it more seriously and possibly chosen that over the Explorer.

Everything else: Didn't assess too closely, but just from looking in the store, nothing else seemed to compare to the Explorer in terms of quality and technology. The Explorer looks to me to be the only product that has a chance of competing nose-to-nose with Nintendo for the younger set. Regarding the one with the keyboard - I think this is gimmicky and kids this young don't need to be learning how to type. Developmentally, they should be working on learning to form their letters. I I think a product with a keyboard would be nice for ages 8+ but not 3 - 6. The previous Leapfrog platform would be a good choice for a lower price. The screen is a little bit smaller, but it's a good price and lots of game titles.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful System, August 19, 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
We actually bought this (the green one though) for my 5 yr. old son and he loves it. As soon as my daughter got a hold of it (she's 3), she caught on immediately. Of course, she needs a little guidance, but really does well. I liked the fact that you can use the stylus attached or just use your finger (easier for younger kids)to make selections and play. We plan on getting her one for Christmas.
By reading ahead of time, I knew no games came with it (even thought we got 2 leaplet cards), so we bought the Kai Lan game and Toy Story 3 games. They have proven to be fun for both kids. My son hasn't decided what to get online with the leaplet cards, so we haven't tried them yet, but hope to soon.
I have never been disappointed with any Leapster items we have gotten and so far am not disappointed with the Explorer either.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gimmick Alert, December 12, 2010
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
We purchased the Leapster Explorer (along with the Penguins of Madagascar Game) after reading all of the positive reviews. We set it up last night (easily done) planning to give it to our 5 y/o for Christmas. We will be returning it instead. This is why...
--The built in advertising is absolutely inappropriate. As soon as you turn on the device, the home screen is full of icons that are trailers for other prodcuts. These icons look just like the games.
--We found a way to disable the "virtual pet" that others have complained about, but we found the insistence that one "ask your parents to buy..." on that and on the download introductions infuriating.
--After getting frustrated with the device platform's advertising, we still held out hope for the cartridge. On the one we tried you have to play for several minutes with a smart-alleck narration in the background before anything remotely educational happens-- there is an occassional math problem thrown in, emphasis on occassional. This was after seeing a plug for Nickelodeon and listening to a lengthy introduction that was like part of a TV show

First we thought that we could just dispense with any hope of educational value and use it as a gaming system for our child's entertainment, but for this price per game and because of the built in advertising (especially vicious given the age range) I would rather find some educational smart phone apps and would rather have my child play better quality games (sans advertising) on another platform, like Nintendo.

Leapfrog, you just lost our business.
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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Marketing Trap Alert, July 6, 2010
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green (Toy)
This is a great product. The other reviews cover how great this product is (some of them by people given free games so they would review this product). This review is to highlight the drawbacks. Please read the other reviews for balance.

1. There is a big button on the home screen for "trailers". Your kid will immediately click on it. The trailers include short videos of heavily commercialized cartoon games - many of them violent like Wolverine or Star Wars. There needs to be an option to remove this button; otherwise it makes the entire system inappropriate for young children. Too bad because it has some nice features.

2. The "pet game" is designed to addict your kids to consumerism. It requires the use of "products" like shampoo that you have a limited quantity of, and you must connect online to get more of these products.

3. The games are WAY TOO expensive. For example, the train game is great, but would be about $4 app (at most) if purchased for the iPhone. Similar games are widely available as freeware or shareware on computer platforms. It has limited replayability.

4. There is a limited variety of games. Maybe this will change. LeapFrog has little excuse for the limited variety. All they really need to do is borrow some of the games they have as extras on the ends of their DVD movies, or import many of the simple educational games available on other platforms. It is really too bad that almost all of the games have commercial tie-ins (e.g., to Disney characters).

Given the relatively low cost of the initial hardware, go ahead and buy one. But be aware that LeapFrog is clearly planning on charging lots of dough for each little game you get. And pretty much nothing is included for free - other than the "pet game" which is pretty simple.
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LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System, Green
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