The LeapPad Explorer is similar to the Leapster Explorer in many ways, but with a few differences . . .
1) The LeapPad Explorer has 2GB of memory verses the Leapster Explorer’s 512MB.
2) The LeapPad Explorer’s 5” screen is larger, but also brighter and sharper than the Leapster Explorer’s 3.2” screen.
3) The LeapPad Explorer has motion-based play and the Leapster Explorer does not. (One of our preschoolers’ favorite games to play is Roly Poly Picnic, in which they need to tilt the LeapPad to get a ball to roll over the desired object.) The technology is surprisingly accurate as far as how it responds to the user’s motion.
4) The LeapPad Explorer comes with a built-in digital camera/video recorder and microphone, while the Leapster Explorer’s digital camera/video recorder is an accessory that can be purchased separately. (As a parent, I think having less detachable pieces to lose is preferred.) I also want to say that the image quality is better. Although lots of light is still required with the LeapPad Explorer to capture a good image or video, the combination of the better screen and a higher resolution, allows the LeapPad Explorer’s camera to produce a better image.
5) The LeapPad Explorer comes with an extra stylus, where the Leapster Explorer does not. (Somehow our children managed to pull the stylus off the string on our Leapster Explorer. We still haven’t located it and are lucky that the unit also works with the touch of a finger.)
6) The Leapster Explorer has a charging dock that is available to be purchased separately, but the LeapPad Explorer unfortunately does not have one currently available. (I highly recommend using rechargeable batteries in the LeapPad Explorer, especially if you have more than one child using it frequently.)
7) The LeapPad Explorer retails for $99.99, while the Leapster Explorer retails for $69.99 plus $24.99 for the camera/video recorder attachment.
Three features by which my family was highly impressed in the LeapPad Explorer are . . .
1. The included Art Studio App is pretty powerful for a toy’s image editor. One can take a photo captured by the LeapPad Explorer and make it black and white, tint it, decorate it with stamps, draw on it, and more. The results turn out great.
2. As I had previously mentioned, the motion detector technology is surprisingly accurate. It is a key feature that our children enjoy very much and, if it had failed to be accurate, our children would likely have been very frustrated. LeapFrog really did well with this feature.
3. Like with the Leapster Explorer, the LeapPad Explorer adjusts to your child’s skill levels. (We have twins and it’s great that they can both play the same game under different usernames even though they learn at different speeds.)
How could the LeapPad Explorer be improved?
1. One of my main complaints about the Leapster Explorer was that it was a little on the heavy side for a child to hold with one hand for an extended period of time. The LeapPad Explorer is just as heavy.
2. As previously mentioned, it would be ideal to have a charging dock (or another type of charger) for the LeapPad Explorer. I hope this accessory will be available in the future.
3. Although, the 400Mhz processor is not overly slow, it would have been nice to have a slightly faster processor in the LeapPad Explorer than in the Leapster Explorer. As difficult as it is for children to wait for something to download, it is probably more difficult for adults who are accustomed to using adult tablets and e-readers.
4. Although the LeapFrog Explorer games can be used in both the LeapPad Explorer and the Leapster Explorer, not all the apps are interchangeable. So, if we have one app the children particularly loved on their LeapPad, we may not necessarily be able to get it for the Leapster Explorer and vice versa.
NOTE: Although I received a complimentary sample unit for my family to use and provide feedback, all thoughts expressed in this review are my own.
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