Customer Review

616 of 662 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some new features are great, but LeapPad2 is better overall, August 19, 2013
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra/Ultra XDI Kids' Learning Tablet, Green (styles may vary) (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 1:10 Mins

(The video, added Sept. 6, has to do with the LeapPad Ultra's Wi-Fi connectivity. Please wait for that section below to view it.)

This is going to be a really long review! If you're putting forth the money to buy this, you may want to know a lot of details about it, so I tried to think of the things I would want to know if I were considering making a purchase. I'll mostly compare this to the LeapPad2, since that's possibly the other product you'd be looking at. Overall, at this time, I would recommend the LeapPad2. I'll talk about why, and then move on to what the LeapPad Ultra does offer.

First, along with the larger size comes considerably more heft. I weighed the LeapPad Ultra at almost 1 pound, 7 ounces with no extras. The LeapPad2 is 14.7 ounces (including only the necessary batteries). The LeapPad2 is smaller and easier to hold both in dimensions and weight. And if the larger screen size seems like a selling point, when you try older content on it, any lower-quality animation from previous LeapPad programs (ghosting, pixels, etc.) is now more noticeable. (Note: This is NOT an issue with apps made specifically for the LeapPad Ultra.)

LeapFrog apparently tried to give the LeapPad Ultra more of a similarity to the feel of an adult's tablet, and its style is greatly changed. The arrows included onscreen on the LeapPad2 are gone. But swiping on the screen of the LeapPad Ultra is difficult and clunky and doesn't always do what you wish it would. The volume buttons and on/off button on the tablet aren't as conveniently located as they are on the LeapPad 2. Additionally, I'm not a fan of the backgrounds on the new LeapPad Ultra, including green dots and black dots on grey. It's not as "pretty" as the LeapPad2. Another thing that's not as good is that the profile photo (or, the nice option that you can take your own background photo now!) gets either expanded side to side (profile pic) or elongated up and down (background) since they don't allow you to crop it as is done with the LeapPad2. A real disappointment is that you can't move around apps on the Home screens. This is something that can be done on LeapPad2 and helps with organization.

There are glitches with the LeapPad Ultra. I have had it freeze, only the background show, and for odd things to happen when trying to switch its orientation, such as a mirror effect with the app icons. Turning it off and on again takes care of any issues, though.

With all of these negatives, a great improvement with the LeapPad Ultra is the location of the stylus. It recedes into the body of the LeapPad Ultra, so it's not as prone to falling out or being pulled out by accident, as is the stylus on the LeapPad2.

I'll get into some other reasons why I think the LeapPad2 is better, but will now go into talking more about the LeapPad Ultra.

WI-FI CONNECTIVITY

If you have Wi-Fi, LeapFrog allows you to connect that way, rather than through hooking the tablet up to a computer and using LeapFrog Connect software. Set-up took hours for me, because they went into my already-established account and automatically also installed programs previously installed on a LeapPad2. So depending on whether or not you have other LeapPad products, set-up may be quite a lengthy process. This Wi-Fi connectivity has an advantage over the LeapPad2. Programs can be purchased and downloaded directly to the device rather than through LeapFrog Connect software on a separate computer. This greatly simplifies the set-up process and downloading of new software, BUT it's almost certain that you'll still want to use LeapFrog Connect for the management of artwork, MP3s, photos, etc., so it doesn't completely do away with the need for the computer software.

The Wi-Fi connectivity is something that might be a selling point over the LeapPad2, but at this point, unfortunately, it's impossible to review this feature. While some pre-screened videos and photos can be viewed, trying to access the web yields this message: "Coming Soon!" Right now, the only interesting content is pre-screened YouTube videos. However, I have received errors when trying to view some of them, including "Your browser does not currently recognize any of the video formats available" and "This video is currently unavailable."

The range for the Wi-Fi is limited. When I can get two bars on another tablet device from household Wi-Fi, this one has zero. The tablet doesn't pick up Wi-Fi as well as it should, meaning that it may be completely inaccessible in certain rooms of your home, depending on your own Internet service.

The attached no-audio video shows the Wi-Fi interface on the LeapPad Ultra. A few things to notice: the Internet connectivity is "coming soon" (i.e., not yet available), that what's available now is pre-approved YouTube videos in categories (more categories are available by scrolling down on the tablet. I selected "Cats" for this example), and the tablet doesn't always respond well to the stylus.

INCLUDED SOFTWARE/FEATURES

I have starred the two apps that are a major improvement from LeapPad2 to now. These are features I feel may make the LeapPad Ultra worth purchasing over the LeapPad2.

App Center -- Kids have access to the LeapPad App Center now--ouch! Some parents may find this objectionable, since it's advertising that's always there and is extremely tempting.

Art Studio Ultra App -- This app is basically like a Paint program. There are a lot of choices; the right-hand side can be scrolled through for things like stickers, crayons, chalk, and paintbrushes. It's better than the LeapPad2 Art Studio App. Unfortunately, there's still a lag-time with drawing. I was hoping the response would be faster than with the LeapPad2.

Calculator -- This is a nice little app, which is exactly what it says. It can handle eight digits and does addition, division, multiplication, and subtraction.

Calendar -- On the calendar, "stickers" can be used to mark special days. A note feature also exists; if used, it places a little "sticky note" icon on that day. When accessed, the LeapPad narrator says the current date.

Camera -- This feature is similar to LeapPad2; the quality is not that great for either still photos or videos. The camera is now not listed in the app area, but appears on the bottom of the screen.

Clock/Stopwatch -- This is just what it says. It's a clock by default, but has a count-up timer option as well.

Free App -- At this time, the choices are Ozzie & Mac e-book, Scaredy Cat in the Spooky Woods, OR Sugar Bugs (one of the above).

* MP3 Player -- As someone who purchased the add-on MP3 player for the LeapPad2, I was one of their customers who had problems with the fact that the downloadable app only allowed files of a few different bitrates. Because my computer doesn't support their preferred bitrates, files I put on the LeapPad2 would play at the wrong speed. It seems like they fixed this problem, because I'm able to load in files on the LeapPad Ultra that didn't work with the purchasable LeapPad2 app. Because of this, I would recommend this product over the LeapPad2 if you especially want MP3 capabilities.

Note Pad -- I was most interested in this new app, because it seems educational and could be helpful in getting kids started with word processing. However, it's pretty limited in its scope and is best for writing little notes rather than letters or other larger files. While it has a lot of letters and symbols, it's noticeably missing an apostrophe. The keyboard is quite small and must be used with the stylus.

Pet Chat App -- This chat application only works if someone in the very-nearby vicinity also has the program. It utilizes pre-programmed statements so kids can't type out responses.

* Pet Pad Party App -- This is a significant upgrade from the PetPad app of the LeapPad2. The graphics are better and there's more to do, such as decorating a large room (it can be scrolled) with furniture, and games like tic-tac-toe. The feeding "game" is now more of a game, too, and there's also hang-gliding.

Photo Fun Ultra App -- Photos can be blended, shaken up (salt shaker), and more in this app.

Voice Memo -- Similar to Note Pad, this allows the user to input a little note or reminder, but this one is recorded rather than typed.

IN CONCLUSION

The overall ease of use of the LeapPad2 makes it my top choice. While the LeapPad Ultra promises a lot, it seems like some of the technology wasn't ready. The LeapPad2, in comparison, comes off as a polished product that was ready to be put on the market. It's possible that the LeapPad Ultra will live up to expectations once the kinks are worked out of it and the Internet connectivity is up and running, but the lesser weight and size of the LeapPad2, along with its polished performance, might make it much more kid-friendly.

I really like LeapFrog products, so I'm sad about having to rate something somewhat negatively. I do think it still has the potential to be a good product, but that updates are needed to improve it. And I'm really giving it 3 1/2 stars, but Amazon won't allow halves!
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 8, 2013 4:54:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2013 4:55:04 PM PDT
DaMeg1331 says:
Thank you so much for the comparison between the LeapPad 2 and the LeapPad Ultra. I wish I had read this before buying the Ultra which proved to be a very frustrating experience. We now have a LeapPad 2 instead and it feels so much more polished and works so much better and faster. I hope they fix the problems with the Ultra as its screen size and design are great.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2013 10:04:29 PM PDT
DaMeg1331, thank you for sharing your experience! I'm also hoping they'll work on improving this product. In the meantime, the LeapPad2 is great!

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 6:57:30 AM PST
Thank you so much for this review! We have the original leappad that was my daughter's and were pondering which to get from Santa for my son. It seemed silly to go for the "old" version by getting the LeapPad 2, but after this, I feel way more secure in getting the 2 for our needs.

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 5:20:44 PM PST
A. Rice says:
Incredible feedback. Thanks!

Posted on Nov 11, 2013 5:46:57 PM PST
Tammy B says:
Thank you so much for putting up this review! I've never bought any LeapFrog products (my son is only 18 months old), but I'm starting to do research for Christmas and your review has helped me tremendously! Thanks again!

Posted on Nov 20, 2013 8:59:32 AM PST
Thank you so much for your review! My 4yo DD had the original LeapPad and I was considering purchasing the Ultra for her for Christmas but your insightful and honest review has showed me that it's best to wait until more of the kinks are worked out. She still uses her original LP all the time and is happy with that so I'll save my money for now and wait for improvements.

Posted on Nov 29, 2013 6:35:05 AM PST
Great review. Thank you for your insight.

Posted on Dec 3, 2013 6:51:14 AM PST
Thanks-My granddaughter's Leappad2 broke in her suitcase (maybe the extra batteries banged the screen) and I couldn't decide what to replace it with and now I will stick to the Leappad2-she is only 4. No need for lengthy downloading or apps that don't have the kinks worked out or the extra $50 expense!

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 5:33:49 PM PST
Thank you for taking the time to write your honest and objective review, many people should and will appreciate this.

Posted on Dec 11, 2013 8:33:04 AM PST
I'm also VERY grateful for the comparison. You were more than fair to both products. Wish more reviews reached this quality.

I was considering upgrading my grandgirl for her birthday in February to the Ultra but have decided to hold back and wait for the noted issues to be addressed. I was particularly disappointed in the poor quality of using game cartridges on the Ultra when we've been so pleased with them on the LeapPad2. She has about 15 games so that would have been a very big deal.

This Christmas my husband and I are gifting all nine of our other grandchildren with LeapPad2 systems since my grandgirl loves hers. I had already started buying them in June but had not seen the Ultra until last month. Was kicking myself for not getting the "better" system for our older grandkids but after reading your review I am very glad it worked out this way. So you saved me on two accounts!

Thanks again for an outstanding review!
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