Customer Review

1,293 of 1,362 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kids like it, but educational value is not as good as it should be., September 10, 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog LeapPad1 Explorer Learning Tablet, green (Toy)
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I really want to like the LeapPad - my kids do, but unfortunately it just misses the mark. I am a second-grade teacher, so hopefully that will lend some credibility to my review in terms of its educational merits.

Here's my breakdown:

Pros:

It seems well built (read: it's not broken yet)

It keeps the kids entertained (but lots of things do)

The books are great, and when a child comes to a word they can't read, they can just click it to have it read to them. (Of course, the books are expensive, small, and locked to this device that will certainly be gone/broken/obsolete in couple years)

The videos are great (and expensive, but more reasonable when compared to educational DVD's). They teach phonics and number sense and are educationally sound.

Cons:

The downloadable games and apps are expensive and don't offer a good value for the price. For example, my daughter downloaded the $7.50 Train game and she beat it in about 20 minutes. When compared to almost anything else (iPad, physical books, educational DVD's, a jump rope, etc) this is just not enough bang for your buck.

The system is incredible slow. The kids don't seem to mind, but I sure notice it.

The system burns through batteries like crazy. It takes 4 AA's and I have had to replace them every few days. This wouldn't be a big deal, except that I don't really let the kids use it all that much.

The Leappad has a built-in virtual pet that you can earn and buy things for. I've never been a fan of having children take care of virtual pets (i.e. watering it, washing it, etc.) And this brings me to another point: unless you are watching closely, there are too many choices your child can make that have no learning involved at all. Ironically, if you are paying such close attention, you should probably just be doing something together with your child as opposed to watching them play this electronic device.

And finally:

The reason that most parents would buy this is for it's games educational value. Unfortunately I just don't see too much of it here. For example, there is a math dice game where the kids roll three dice and try to make the biggest number they can with it. This is a classic game that we use in the classroom. In the classroom game, the child is supposed to place each dice in the 1's, 10's, and 100's places in order to create the biggest number (while learning place value). In the Leappad version, there isn't even a mention of the place value (which is the whole point of the game). Instead the child just rolls the dice, places them from biggest to smallest AND THEN the computer turns that into a number i.e. 662 without explaining what's happening and the game continues. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is in essence teaching the child that 6 + 6 + 2 = 662, which of course is not true (and it reinforces a common mistake that children make).

Another example:

On the Alphabet Stew game, children are supposed to find words on a grid (Boggle-style). There is a list of words (i.e. 'can') that the kids must find, but strangely when the child taps the three letters on the grid to spell the word, it doesn't even say the word out loud. So they spell the word, but don't learn what word they're spelling. It's things like this that make me question who they hired to make these aps.

In conclusion:
I wouldn't recommend this product as a learning device unless you plan on only purchasing the books and videos. That being said, you could get books and videos without this device. BUT, If you want something to keep your kids busy in small intervals, this might do the trick.
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Comments

Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 113 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 10, 2011 5:56:18 PM PDT
My's Review says:
I just read your review and I agree, I did not love the LeapPad Tablet either. I thought the same thing about the Alphabet App-I did not understand why it did not repeat the word after it was spelled. I also noticed that the 100% positive reviews are often written by people who were given complimentary LeapPads Tablets. I wrote my 1st review about the pink LeapPad Tablet stating a few of the same things you had written. I'm hoping the upcoming V-tech Innotab is better. Write an update about other Apps you find to be worth getting. Thanks-My from CT

Posted on Sep 10, 2011 7:33:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2011 9:47:21 PM PDT
I find this review kind of puzzling especially for a 2nd grade teacher. Let's start by being objective across the board.
Is there out there an product that is 100% perfect? Not even the I Pad with all the bells and whistles comes close to being perfect and we are talking about a gadget pricier than a full loaded desktop or laptop.
Not enough bang for your buck? Both of my kids now 4 and 6 still go back and play with the original Leapster (I am not talking about Leapster 2, the original one) and still have a blast. Not sure I can say the same about all the toys that we've got over the last 5 years to include cars, books, and other electronic toys including the VTech - V.Reader Animated E-Book System which gets considerably a lot less playing time but still is a nice gadget to carry on car trips.

"there are too many choices your child can make that have no learning involved at all" such as what exactly? Perhaps their own advertisement previews of other games I don't find any educational value in that which you as a parent have the option to turn off which I have on both devices. Other than that, please back your claim.

Alphabet stew is not an e Book, but the function that you are looking for is on all of the E-books. And being totally honest, for E-Books the V-Reader does a much better job at that; but ONLY that. This is the only game you are reviewing, how about all the others? Jewel Train 1 and 2 has been completed by my 6 year old many many times, but it still has that charm of coming back to it, getting my bang for the buck if you tell me. The 4 year old having a super short span, manages to play for about 9 rounds of it and then goes off to play with something else within the LeapPad; something I can track with the Learning Path tool.

If I just want to entertain as you make it a strong point, the Nintendo DS lite (same price) does a much better job at it; my older kid can play until he exhaust the battery that lasts over 8 times that of the LeapPad, but do I want my kid entertained with Nintendo or Leapfrog?

Lastly "(Of course, the books are expensive, small, and locked to this device that will certainly be gone/broken/obsolete in couple years)" Expensive is a relative term, there are others less expensive and more expensive; to me they are just right. Locked? That is false, they can now be transferred to the previous generation 'Explorer' and I can almost be 100% certain that future generations of toys will do the same and all the content that I've purchased on the Mac is also available on the Windows one. Gone or Broken subjective on your children; we still have the leapsters from 3 years ago and going strong; obsolete? Well, even when our children outgrow all these toys, they probably will be donated to their school so that other less fortunate children can also enjoy these wonderful toys, so it will take years before these are really obsolete.

In summary: Are these the technological marvel of this year? Sure not. The best educational toy? We'll see, the explorer got the educational TOTY for 2011. http://inventorspot.com/articles/11_best_toys_2011_toy_industry_awards

Not the words of a teacher but from a very satisfied parent that bought the product, games and apps. =)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2011 8:03:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2011 8:04:44 PM PDT
Eric Romaine says:
Wolfsatz, the point of a review is for potential buyers to read about what other people think about a product. My review tells what I feel about it. Although it's tempting to ignore your attempt to nullify my review, I'll respond to your points.

You mentioned that I didn't back up my point about too many non-educational choices. Here's an example what has no educational value at all: the virtual pet. That's in my paragraph but maybe you missed it. Later in my review I go on to discuss the dubious value of the games as well.

In regards to Alphabet Stew, I stand by my opinion that the game should say the words the children are spelling. For me, it seems like poor design for a game to have children spell words and then not read those words to them when they complete the task.

In regards to Jewel Train, I did review it. Perhaps you missed the part where I said that my daughter beat it in twenty minutes. She's now bored with it. She likes a challenge and this didn't give it to her. I also reviewed the dice game as well. I'd review additional games, but I don't own any more.

I couldn't find where I used entertainment as my main point so I'm lost as to how to respond to that. My main point was that it didn't have enough educational value for me. See the title for clarification.

In regards to my opinion on the price and value of their ebooks, that is... my opinion, which fits well into... my review.

In conclusion, Wolfsatz, you seem very passionate about your love for this toy. That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. I'm glad you're satisfied with your Leappad, but your satisfaction with it doesn't change my opinion in any way.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2011 10:20:03 PM PDT
ES don't take it personal; of course, reviews and comments alike are for those potential and undecided buyers. You are not the targeted audience.

The Pet Pad (virtual pet) promotes healthy habits: Importance of hygiene, eating right and staying active. It follows the same concept as Sugar Bugs which promotes dental hygiene; but I guess there is nothing educational in that.

The educational value should be for your children (which your subject says she likes) not for you. If I was writing a review as I was the main user of the product, then yes, I can find a much better use for $100.

Under Pros: "It keeps the kids entertained (but lots of things do)". I am with you, there are a lot of other gadgets that can keep children entertained. What educational/electronic gadget would you recommend for $100? I would really like to hear the opinion of a teaching professional.

I am neither passionate or in love with the product; just being objective about the product. In my own review I also list all the numerous things that could be improved as in: rechargeable battery pack instead of AA; expandable memory (SD) as in the V-Tech products; excess packaging. Etc. But any of those does not diminish the educational value; at least my own children are learning with the LeapPad. Greatest improvement with the 4 year old that we could not get him to write anything and ohh my have we tried for over a year; in 2 short weeks he is now writing the whole alphabet and guess what? with the Pet Pad (virtual pet) that offers no educational value.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2011 10:42:34 PM PDT
Eric Romaine says:
Wolf, reviews, by definition, are subjective. If you gave an objective review, you'd only be stating facts. Which you aren't.

You mention in your comment and review that the several problems you have with your 5-star rated LeapPad don't take away from the educational value. That's your opinion. Do you see how that works? It's not right or wrong, it's just what you think.

In any event, I am glad you love the toy and are so passionate about it. For my family, it just doesn't make the grade.

Posted on Sep 10, 2011 11:54:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2011 5:22:34 PM PDT
Ben Perez says:
Your comment about educational value is a bit misleading... "You just don't see too much of it here". But meanwhile you mention two games that don't represent the best the LeapPad has to offer. Here is my review of the xbox 360 gaming system:

"The system is well built but the games are terrible, Rogue Warrior and Raven Squad are so bad I took the gaming system back and bought a PS3. Wow the games are so much better!"

If you would've mentioned Mr. Pencil, Cars 2, or Tangled (highly rated games) and said the educational value isn't there, then fine, you and I just have different opinions of what educational games should be. Games, even educational ones, are not all going to be well made. As with video games, research the best ones and buy those.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2011 6:42:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2011 7:28:10 PM PDT
Eric Romaine says:
Ben, I see your point about regarding the XBOX review, however I don't believe that it's a valid comparison. Because LeapPad makes and distributes their own software, they should have a say in what gets released. Because they've released these titles which I find to be minimally educational, and because of the other reasons I mentioned in my original review, I gave the product a 3-star rating. This is really all there is to it.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2011 3:21:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2011 3:29:51 PM PDT
Ben Perez says:
That's just like saying if Microsoft was the only software provider for the xbox every game should be great. That's not the case. Not every video game by Microsoft is going to be great, that doesn't mean that the 360 isn't a great gaming system.

As such,

Not every LeapPad game is a great educational game. You listed two that aren't and I agree with you. But there are great/5 star educational games on the LeapPad system and I've listed them. You clearly ignored that fact. It's irrelevant to me what you've rated the LeapPad, as I have dismissed your reviewing system as flawed. But for the others that consider it, I want to make sure they observe how flawed it is.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2011 4:06:13 PM PDT
Eric Romaine says:
I didn't ignore the fact Ben. I stated that I can only review the educational value of the games I own. I cannot review the system based on games that you own or have deemed to be 5 stars. Do you own all the games? If not, wouldn't your review be just as "flawed" as mine?

Posted on Sep 14, 2011 5:03:11 PM PDT
ES,
I was looking forward for your answer on this one?

What educational/electronic gadget would you recommend for $100? given than the you don't give the LeapPad high points on educational value.
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Eric Romaine
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