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LeapFrog's LeapPad 2 Review

Updated on December 8, 2012
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, and appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.


Technology quite simply is taking over at all ages now. My two little girls sit and play with our IPads whenever they can get their hands on it and they even know how to use them I think sometimes better then we do.

So a year ago, I purchased my older daughter a LeapFrog LeapPad, which is the company's marketing strategy to reach young kids with a kid friendly type of tablet similar to the likes of an IPad. Although, it may not be exactly like an IPad, it truly is a very clever and ingenious device for kids to use and learn from as well. and anyone who read my Hot Holiday Toys article knows a bit about the backstory on how I was able to indeed find and purchase this Hot Toy.

This year they came out with the LeapPad 2, just as Apple keeps changing their product to meet the demands of their customers, so too are LeapFrog with this new generation LeapPad, who heard some of the complaints from the original LeapPad and did some updates and modified the product. So now, they have released the new and improved LeapPad 2 just in time for the holiday season.

If you were interested and thinking of purchasing this for child or grandchild, please take a moment to read on and see the review that I have written below.


Cosmetic Appearance:

The original LeapPad was either green or pink (and still is), but the back shell was mostly white, now the LeapPad 2's back shell is now a solid, almost metallic-looking color with a less glossy and slippery finish. This new finish should help it to slip out of little kids' slippery hands, but even if it were to fall, it is made to be durable and withstand falls, because LeapFrog knows that kids usually do have a tendency of making mistakes and dropping things pretty frequently. That said it is truly meant to be an alternative to mom and dad's IPad which is not as durable and can break pretty easily if dropped.

When we first purchased this last year, I had to set the device up and have it ready to go for its first use on Christmas morning. Well, setting it up wasn't too bad, but getting the newly charged batteries (yes it can run on a rechargeable LeapPad battery pack of 4 AA Batteries, which is sold separately) into the LeapPad was absolute torture. So LeapFrog, listened to parental feedback and actually made the new battery covers for the LeapPad 2 easier to remove on the unit's shell.

This unit is designed for pre-school and early school age kids too.



Here is the breakdown of the biggest hardware changes from the first generation LeapPad to the LeapPad 2. The LeapPad 2 allows for more battery life, because of its more powerful processor (going from a 393 MHz processor now to a 550MHz processor). That said it is only an extra hour, but an hour to a child can be a lifetime. Truly it is that much of a jump and still uses the same software and apps as the original LeapPad did, but it does seem to for some sharper user interface.

The original LeapPad had a camera (which seemed to be a huge selling point over another Tablet like product selling last year, the V-Tech InnoTab), but now it not only has rear-facing camera like the original, but also has a front facing too that allows kids to import their pictures they took allowing them to even draw on these pictures in certain available apps.

Also in the original LeapPad was 2GB of memory storage. Now the LeapPad 2 has an extra 2 GB of storage with it having 4GB in total of memory storage. This extra 2 GB of storage allows for the memory not to get full as quickly and therefore not having to swap out previously downloaded content for newer, because there just isn't enough room to have both the old and the new software apps. In plain English, if you download a lot of apps this will truly come in handy and allow you to continue to download and not have the LeapPad's memory to become full as quickly.

LeapPad 2 Retails for $99.


Buy LeapPad Games on Amazon:

Software: Games and Apps

The LeapPad 2 comes pre-loaded with a few apps, and you get to download one free app the first time you connect to the App Center just as the original LeapPad did too. And if you do have games and content from the original LeapPad no worries, the LeapPad 2 is compatible with all of the original LeapPad and LeapFrog Explorer games and digital apps (over 325 games, apps, videos and more). However, some game cartridges or apps are optimized specifically to take advantage of the LeapPad 2’s dual cameras or other features.

One of the nice things about the LeapPad is that the games use familiar characters from kids shows on TV nowadays like Dora and Princesses and truly do vary by character, theme, and more importantly, by your child’s level of learning. And all Games and apps do have recommended age on the packaging, but still the LeapPad 2 also adjusts the playing level for each child depending on age and skill automatically.

As a teacher, I love the fact that all of the games have some educational merit to them and teach basic learning skills needed by all kids, such as math, reading, counting, writing, and much more. And yet they still manage to make it fun too. I also like that for certain achievements, there are badges that are included to give your child something to strive for and look forward to. Yet by unlocking and collecting these badges this truly seems to give kids a sense of pride in their accomplishment and yet keep things interesting too.

LeapPad 2 also allows the use of eBooks that teach young kids reading and phonics, by allowing your kids to read and spell out words right along with the device. They also have video content such as SpongeBob and a bit more educational ones too.

The LeapPad 2 can play music, but it’s typically not an MP3 player, so if you are looking for that than this may not be the product to buy. Also, it doesn't allow one to add their own video content or pretty much any previously owned content. The name of the game here is that they want you to buy LeapPad's own content from their App store, much like Apple does with the IPad and their App Store too for retail.

Games Retail for $19.99 and up.


App Center

So now for the App Store I just mentioned above. For the LeapPad 2, you must purchase and download all software and apps from their App Center. You can even digitally download virtual versions of the same game cartridges that are sold at retail stores too if you want rather than buy the actual cartridge. To purchase one must use credit card or App Center download cards that are sold separately in stores.

To access the App Center you must install software on your PC or Mac, with or without the LeapPad 2 connected. If you don't have the LeapPad 2 connected when you do make a purchase, the next time you have it connected with the USB cable it will sync and download this content. The App Center store is fairly simple and pretty easy to use, probably easier to use than Apple ITunes Store, but more in-line with the Playstation or Nintendo Online Stores.

App Center Downloads can be $5 and up.

Summing It Up..

Bottom line is the LeapPad 2 may not be an Apple iPad, but truly is the ultimate toy and gaming device for children. The Apple IPad is much more expensive than this device and also can be broken or damaged a heck of a lot easier than the LeapPad 2, because the LeapPad 2 is well-built and well designed for children in mind. Children are naturally drawn to the IPad (I should know having two that are mesmerized by it), but this little technical gadget should really help starve off some of their craving for mom and dad's IPad, because it does have smartphone/tablet-like features, a touchscreen and a stylus too. The games and apps are kid friendly and made for their age specifically. it’s a pretty good investment in children's early learning skills, as well as helps to keep their little minds busy and happily entertained (believe me sometimes you need five minutes of just peace and quiet where they are otherwise occupied and this fits that bill).

So if you’re parent of a youngster, you should really think about the LeapPad 2, because the gaming person in you will appreciate your child taking their first steps into gaming, and the parent in you will enjoy their minds being challenged, yet having fun, and still learning along the way.


About the Author...

Janine is a freelance writer and mom of two. She is known for being a stay at home mom to two beautiful little girls right now. Life can totally get hectic and has learned to perfect and improvise all day and night too, because of this. You can checkout her profile and more of her family related articles here.

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