LeapPad Ultra Review

LeapPad Ultra thumbnailOur rating: 3.5 stars

LeapFrog are the market leader in kids’ tablets and their LeapPad Ultra is the latest and greatest in their product range, released in 2013. It’s bigger than the LeapPad 2 with a 7-inch screen, and new features include WiFi capability for downloading apps and accessing the LeapSearch safe internet browser.

But does it live up to the very high expectations that everybody now has of LeapFrog products? Let’s take a look.

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LeapPad Ultra Video Review

Features of the Ultra LeapPad

* 7 inch high resolution screen
* WiFi capability for downloading apps direct to the tablet
* WiFi also gives access to the child-safe LeapSearch browser online
* Front and back cameras/video recorders
* MP3 player
* 8 GB storage
* 11 apps included (many more available to order)
* Comes in green or pink
* Rechargeable lithium battery included
* Age range: 4-9

LeapPad Ultra controls

Leap Pad Ultra Reviews

It’s hard to keep children away from technology! They always want to know what electronic devices can do and adapt to new devices very fast. It’s been a few years now since the first tablets for kids came out, and the LeapPad from LeapFrog has consistently been a market leader.

We’re going to compare the new LeapPad Ultra with the previous model, LeapPad 2, so that you can decide which one might be best for your child – because “newer” doesn’t automatically mean “better” in this case.

LeapPad Ultra vs. LeapPad 2

There are a lot of differences between LeapPad 2 and the Ultra. The first one you’ll notice is the size. The LeapPad Ultra has a 7-inch high resolution screen which is great but it does mean that the tablet is bigger and heavier than the LeapPad 2. That’s one reason why the recommended age range starts at 4 years old instead of 3, but it’s still a little awkward for most 4-year-olds to carry around.

Then there’s the Wi-Fi capability of the Ultra. This means that, in theory at least, kids can browse the internet on this. You can tell them that’s what they’re doing and it’s true, but in fact they only have access through the secure LeapSearch browser where everything available to them has been screened to make sure it’s child-safe and educational. In addition, you can turn off this feature in the parental control settings if you don’t want your kids to have it.

The WiFi connection also enables you to download apps directly to the tablet instead of going through your computer.

You will need a WiFi installation in your home to connect to if you’re going to use these features. It’s not like a Kindle that has direct access to the Amazon site. If you don’t have WiFi at home your kids couldn’t use LeapSearch.

LeapPad Ultra verticalHow about backwards compatability? Any apps that you bought for an older version of LeapPad will work on the Ultra but you won’t get the screen resolution that you have with the new Ultra apps. The old apps are simply enlarged for the bigger screen, making them a little blurry. But if this is your first LeapPad, that won’t be an issue because you’ll buy the Ultra version.

You get more apps included with the Ultra and some new and improved versions, e.g. Pet Pad Party, which is a lot more fun on the Ultra. It also has a more powerful processor, more memory for storage, and better video recording quality.

So why are we only giving it 3.5 stars?

What Could Be Improved

There are a couple of things that could be improved. We suspect the LeapPad Ultra was rushed out to compete with the Innotab 3 when it should really have had a bit more development time.

At the time of writing (late August) customers are reporting that it’s rather slow to download and open apps. The screen is slower to respond than some other devices too (especially when compared with an iPad). This will make younger kids impatient and they are likely to start pressing buttons to try to make it work faster, which doesn’t help – as you’ll know if you’ve done that with a computer yourself!

We hope that LeapFrog will fix this issue soon, and maybe they already will have done by the time you read this. Have a look at the latest customer reviews through the link at the end of this article, keeping an eye on the review dates.

On the other hand, you could treat this as an opportunity to teach your children to put a device down and leave it alone for a couple of minutes when it is loading something. That kind of patience is a useful life skill!

The Verdict

The LeapPad Ultra is a great idea that could have used a little more testing and development time. It has a lot of potential and many kids will love the features that it offers.

We think it could be a good choice for children aged 6 and up, but given the weight of it and the patience required, you might want to go with the smaller and cheaper LeapPad 2 Power for a younger child.

UK flag Click to see today’s price and reviews at Amazon UK
US flag Click to see today’s price and reviews at Amazon.com

Our rating: 3.5 stars

Published August 30th, 2013

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