Customer Review

557 of 583 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, great content, and better than the InnoTab 3S, September 9, 2013
= 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 LeapPad Ultra/Ultra XDI Kids' Learning Tablet, Green (styles may vary) (Toy)
I wanted to get my 5-year old daughter a tablet of her own. She likes watching movies and playing games on my iPhone, but that just seems like mindless entertainment for the most part. The app store has lots of content (perhaps too much!), and I did not have a way of determining which had real `educational' value and which were just fluff. So, off looking for a kids' tablet I went.

I was surprised to learn how many kids' tablet options there are, all in the $100-150 range - we looked into the Nabi's, the InnoTab, the Tabeo, the Kurio, the Contixo, etc. The reviews were generally pretty poor for all but the LeapPad and InnoTab products, so we bought one of each to try them out. We wanted to get the newest product available, so our comparison was of the LeapPad Ultra and VTech InnoTab 3S, which on paper are very similar - both offer WiFi, rechargeable batteries, a kid-safe browser, have a headphone portal, have a 2-way 2-pixel camera, etc. What follows is how we thought the 2 products compared, and not to spoil the surprise ending but we returned the InnoTab and LOVE the Ultra.

[As a side note, we got an early Ultra that had the software issue many have referred to here. As soon as we connected to the WiFi it corrected itself, but that was an issue for the first day we had the device.... I think LeapFrog could have handled that a bit better, personally.]

-Price, clearly - as the Ultra is an extra $50. This is the big one - if I wanted a device and had $100 to spend, feature-for-feature this is hard to argue with.

-The buttons are on the front of the device, which makes them more accessible and easier to use than the Ultra's, many of which are on the sides of the device. So, on the Ultra, you had to flip the device over to access the volume, for example...this is a pain.

-The InnoTab has the option to add external memory, as I understand it. This is pretty cool, I suppose, but I've used <8gb of my iPhone's memory; does my 5-year old really need more memory than that???

-Startup was a couple seconds faster with the Innotab; same with loading games - very modest edge here, but an edge nonetheless. [The sub point here is that both are crazy slow compared to what we're used to on our phones/tablets.]

-The InnoTab comes with more pre-loaded software. The Ultra comes with 11 pre-loaded apps, while the InnoTab comes with 20. Most of the software seems similar (Art Studio, for example). FWIW, the apps that were included on the InnoTab and not the Ultra I was not impressed with...but nonetheless there are more of them.

-Despite having only one camera, the InnoTab's camera swivels, which is easier to use and cooler than the Ultra's 2 cameras, in my 5-year old's opinion. Both cameras are total garbage, truth be told...this is a big disappointment with both devices given how much the camera gets used.

-The touch pad on the InnoTab seems a bit more responsive than the one on the Ultra. The difference here was modest, but still worth noting as I am trying to be as objective as possible.

-The InnoTab is a bit lighter than the Ultra (but we have not had any complaints here at all about the weight of the Ultra from our daughter).

-The other difference, which I am not sure is a positive or negative, is that the Ultra's batteries are internal, like on an iPhone (so you can't change them out ever, as near as I can tell). Recall years ago AAPL came under fire when the internal battery would just expire over time and you could not replace it? Same here, potentially. The InnoTab allows you to buy new battery packs for $35, which is probably a nice option to have.

-The Ultra has a bigger screen - about 2 inches bigger than the InnoTab's (5" vs 7'). Side-by-side the picture quality is much better on the Ultra. I am not sure if it is a result of the size of the screen or what, but the screen is just better/clearer/brighter on the Ultra.

-The Ultra has a progressive battery light indicator, which is nice. The InnoTab just lights up when the power is getting low.

-The stylus that comes with the Ultra comes attached with a tether, and the InnoTab's is not. Without it being attached it won't take a kid long to lose this thing.

-I mentioned above that the Ultra is heavier; the pro here is this thing feels like it is one solid piece, and that you could drive over it with your car and not hurt it. The InnoTab seems much less solid, and feels more `plasticy'.

-The way the 2 devices are put together (like the button fit, for example) is night and day. In this regard the InnoTab is like a '78 Chevy Nova compared to the Ultra's BMW-like fit-and-finish; the Ultra feels like you could submerse it under water and have it be fine...not so with the InnoTab.

-The Ultra comes with more `built-in' memory (8gb). But, as notes above, the InnoTab's 4gb is augmented by a card slot.

-When I used the InnoTab for a while it got warm, the way my iPhone does....not like it'd burn you, but still it seemed odd that a kids toy would get hot. This has never happened with the Ultra, which we've been using for over a month now.

-The backing of the Ultra is rubber, so it does not slide around when it is on a flat surface. A small `nice to have', compared to the InnoTab's back which is plastic and slides around on the table in the car or wherever.

First, downloadable apps
InnoTab. There are a total of 130 downloadable apps on the VTech site, and prices range from $2.99 to $4.99 for each. Most of these titles (>50%) are not licensed, meaning the characters are VTech-created. The higher-priced apps are typically for licensed character(s), but there are not that many (they are all Sesame Street or Disney/Pixar). LeapFrog has the edge here if your kid wants to play games with specific characters, as they have a broader selection of the various Sesame Street and Disney/Pixar characters, as well as Thomas the Train, My Little Pony, Spider Man, Sponge Bob, Dora, Fly Guy, Clifford, and Hello Kitty, to name a few.

Ultra. Really too many apps to count, at least effectively. They break their apps into categories (Reading and Writing, Math, Science & SS, and Creativity & Life Skills) - in R&W alone I counted 123 apps. I don't know how many total apps Leap has, but it is a lot. Note that the prices here start at $5, where there is plenty to buy....but they also go all the way up to $25, as these apps are the same content as is offered in the cartridges you buy at Target, Toys-R-Us, or here on Amazon. So, in that regard, it could be said that VTech offers [at least some] less expensive content. I think this is probably a misleading blanket statement, but Leap offers nothing at the $2.99 price point.

One last point here: Leap sends me a discount code about every week (25% off, buy 3 get one free, etc.), and on Amazon there are deals too - so don't be turned off by the fact that the Leap games seem more expensive! This past week I ordered 2 of the $25 games on Amazon and they set me back a mere $22 total, delivered to my door!

Second, Game Cartridges
Again, this is what you can buy when you go to Target or Toys-r-Us, or on Amazon, and in-all I count 62 games offered on the LF web site (and a host of other e-books and such). VTech has a total of 14 game cartridges as far as I can tell on their site - I believe 62 versus 14 is an apples-to-apples comparison. All this content (VT's and Leap's) is offered on their respective web sites at $24.99/ea., and it looks like most (all?) can be purchased on Amazon for ~$15 per game. In the game cartridge arena VT does have some additional characters despite the few titles offered (I saw Hello Kitty and Sponge Bob). I'd also note that every game cartridge that is offered by VTech is also available for the Leap (I believe).

One last observation I made in spending time on the companies' web sites is that Leap seems to be gaining traction building a `community' of reviewers, much the way Amazon has over time. So, when I wanted to buy a math app, I could read reviews for many/most of the products offered, and in many cases even watch an online preview video - with so many choices, this I thought was great. As an example, I just randomly clicked on the Cinderella Ultra eBook, and there are 21 reviews on the LF, 20/21 recommends the product, and it gets an average of 4.7 stars. That's valuable info to me as a shopper, and is a big part of the reason I use Amazon so much - there are very, very few reviews of any of the VTech content.

To bottom line it, I'd buy the Ultra 100 times out of 100 versus the InnoTab 3S. There are some advantages to the 3S, as noted above, but for a well-built piece of `educational' equipment with lots of app/game/content options, I can't see passing up the Ultra.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 16, 2014 7:50:34 AM PDT
B. Lee says:
Thanks for the detailed review! How do the two tablets compare in terms of WiFi!

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2014 10:57:58 AM PDT
DeepDive72 says:
The short answer is: I'm not sure. Truth be told, that is not a feature we have used at our house. Sorry!
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