Is it a toy or a tablet? We answer all your Ultra questions.
LeapFrog sells many, many different types of toys and tech (and tech toys) which means there’s a good chance you already have a bear or bus of some sort in your cupboard. They’ve even tapped into the wearable tech market with their LeapBand (although I think it’s a bit bulky for little wrists).
The LeapPad Ultra is their newest tablet and a (kid-friendly) force to be reckoned with. As you probably already know, all LeapFrog products are educational and child-safe, so if your little one is spending hours with the Ultra, there is a good chance they’re actually learning something at the same time. Math, reading, science, vocabulary – there are real skills to gain with the LeapPad Ultra.
But what makes it different to the other LeapPad tablets and gaming consoles is the fact that it has built-in Wi-Fi. That means you no longer have to plug it into your computer to sync – new apps can be bought directly from the device. What a pleasure! (The Ultra, however, does come with the cable so you choose to plug it in and set it up the old-fashioned way. It’s up to you.) It also has both front- and rear-facing cameras and a built-in MP3 player – something you used to have to pay extra for.
And in case you’ve never used a LeapPad before, one of the things you do at setup is to create a 4-digit pin “Parent Lock” which you’ll need to enter to buy new content. There is also a child log-in screen where you can add more than one of your little ones to the device so that they can each have their own settings – think different set hours to play or age-appropriate content. It also means that the tablet can remember your child’s progress. Simple right?
It’s actually all quite easy. And just like a grown-up tablet, you’ll find things like a calendar, calculator, clock and notepad on-screen. It comes with 11 free apps and when you register, you also get one free to download. You can download games directly from the LeapFrog Learning Library, or buy actual game cartridges in-store or online, the only downfall being that they cost around R200 each, significantly more than Android and iPod apps. What’s really cool, however, is that some games offer multiplayer (peer-to-peer) gaming so if two kids are on the same Wi-Fi network and both have an Ultra, they can play together.
I like the LeapFrog Ultra but I think it’s expensive, especially when there are so many great apps for Apple and Android. That said, it is less expensive than a Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita (approx. R3000) and certainly cheaper in the long run if you consider the price is costs to get a tablet screen repaired.
Here are some of the questions parents are asking:
Will the LeapPad Ultra really keep the kids away from my iPad?
Maybe! Thanks to its bigger size and cleaner design, it looks more like an everyday Android or Apple tablet. So instead of the sides being a single colour (LeapFrog green or pinky-purple) the Ultra is white with brightly coloured edges. It’s much sleeker-looking than other tablets designed for kids out there. Unless your tablet is exclusively set-aside for your kids to play on, the chances are you only have a handful of suitable apps. In comparison, everything on the LeapPad is for your children to learn and play with.
Will my kid get teased because they have a LeapPad instead of a regular tablet or handheld gaming device?
The truth is that the Ultra does look better now… but it also connects to the ‘net thanks to a LeapSearch (kid-safe) web browser. You’re in control of what they see, and they will think they have access to the World Wide Web. Don’t panic. They do not – all it is access to a closed environment of pre-approved, white-list YouTube video and site content. “Well my mom lets me go onto the Internet!”
Cons: It may not run the same games all the other kids are playing right now, like Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds.
How easy is the LeapPad Ultra to fix?
The LeapPad Ultra is a pretty tough device and can withstand all sorts of chucking and spills – it’s designed to be that way. It has ruggedized and has “special impact zones to insulate and protect it” as well as its two cameras. The screen also uses shatter-safe glass. Did your angel still manage to break it? There are a number of helpful YouTube videos on how to fix it and it does come with a warranty.
What is the difference between the LeapPad Ultra and LeapPad Ultra XDi?
They’re actually pretty similar, except for the fact that the XDi is bigger and heavier. Also, the screen is brighter because it is backlit. The Ultra XDi comes with 11 free apps (compared to the Ultra’s 10, not such a biggie) as well as two games: Art Studio Ultra and Roly Poly World. Also, the XDi has a better battery life (think 8ish hours instead of 6) and double the memory.
What if I lose the stylus?
You can’t. It is attached to the tablet like those pens at the bank and post office.
What’s the one thing you love about LeapPad?
The game cartridges work on most of the LeapFrog devices and the LeapPad Ultra is also compatible with the entire LeapFrog Learning Library. If you had a broken PSP and splurged on a PS Vita, you were probably stuck with a lot of games you can no longer use. The same for Xbox 360 and Xbox One and even new 3DS games don’t work in older Nintendo handhelds. It’s frustrating, especially for kids.
I hate LeapFrog, yuck. Are there any other children’s tablets out there?
Yes! The Kurio Motion Tablet is available in South Africa now. It’s around R2000 and very different to the LeapFrog family. You can even buy a Kurio Car Kit so you can mount the tablet to a headrest. How cool is that?
LeapFrog’s LeapPad Ultra is R2000 but you can currently find it on TakeALot for approx. R400 cheaper. SALE! You can also buy things like car chargers, cases, skins, child-friendly headphones and so on…