Posted by Simon Jary 01 December 2014
Leapfrog LeapPad FAQ for parents - all your LeapPad questions answered
The LeapPad is again set to be top of the Christmas wish lists for many children, and parents will be looking at buying these kids’ tablets to combine entertainment and education in a safe environment.
Read our LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi reviews (earlier LeapPad Ultra review and LeapPad 2 review), and watch our video reviews of both (LeapPad Ultra video review and LeapPad 2 video review - both by children aged 5-7, plus the LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi video) to help you choose which model is right for you. We also have rounded up all the version in our “Which LeapPad?” article.
But there’s always other questions buyers have before purchasing or upgrading, so here’s our LeapPad FAQ to help confused parents. If you have any further questions add yours to the Comments below and we'll come back with an answer as soon as we can.
Do LeapPad games work on LeapPad 2? Do LeapPad 2 games work on LeapPad3 and Ultra?
The short answer is “Yes”. The good news for existing users is that LeapPad games and apps work on all versions and models of the Leapfrog children’s tablet. So games and apps for the original LeapPad Explorer tablet work with the later LeapPads.
Which LeapPad should I buy?
There are two versions of the LeapPad, ranging from £89 to £119 (US$79 to $149) – although you should be able to find these much cheaper at reputable online stores. Check out the LeapPad3 and Ultra XDi reviews for the latest prices, at the bottom of the review.
What age is the LeapPad aimed at?
Leapfrog says the LeapPad3 is suitable for ages 3-9, and that the Ultra is for children aged 4-9 years old.
We think that kids as young as two years old could easily enjoy using the LeapPad. Maybe Leapfrog states a starting age of three because of the usual warnings that very young kids are at risk of swallowing small objects. Look at the packaging of just about any toy and there’s the warning that they’re unsuitable for children under 36 months – even if they’re really only suitable to the under threes!
But we’re also skeptical about the upper age range, too. While the LeapPads are nicely designed not to look as childish as other kids’ tablets we think older children will consider a non-adult tablet to be rather beneath them. Kids don’t like to look uncool or childish.
Also the software is aimed mainly at the younger age groups, between three and six years old. There are exceptions, eg. the Disney American Presidents volumes and Disney Imagineering apps. But, on the whole, most of the software is aimed below 7-8 years old.
So we think the age range for all the LeapPads is 2-7 rather than 3-9. The Ultra, with its 7in screen, may be too big for smaller hands, so possibly it’s not for two year olds!
How much do LeapPad games cost?
Games and apps for the LeapPad aren’t as cheap as those available for the iPad or Android tablets. While you can get apps and games for other tablets for as little as 69p (99¢) games for the LeapPad start at £3.50, and can also cost £5, £7.50, £10 each, and go up to £20 (eg. for example, Disney Pixar’s Monster’s University game) – unthinkable for iOS or Android apps (although you never get sneaky, expensive in-app purchases within Leapfrog software, as is common on iPad and Android). (US prices range from $5 to $25.)
What you get from Leapfrog is a virtual guarantee of game or app quality. The company is staffed by educational PhDs who work to make sure each game is as educational as can be while still being fun for the kids. You needn’t be worried about in-app purchases or adverts, inappropriate content, violence, sex or other kiddy no-nos. Also games are localized for UK accents, spelling and grammar – all rare in the more generic iPad and Android apps.
Many of the Leapfrog games are based on the most popular kids’ brands: Disney, Pixar, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, SpongeBob, etc. This no doubt increases the price somewhat but kids will be happy with them.
You can find the game cartridges for less online at stores such as Amazon – often for around £12-13 instead of £20.
Can you access Disney Junior website with the Ultra Leappad, and play the videos and games?
You can’t access external websites with the LeapPad Ultra. LeapSearch offers kid-safe web content pieces that have been selected from key websites like Nick Jnr and You Tube, and vetted and approved by the Leapfrog Learning Team.
There are over 1,000 hand-selected fun and engaging pieces of content, including games, videos, images and web pages, that are 100% kid-appropriate. This ‘closed’ system ensures parents don’t have to set filters or search among a sea of content and guess which is appropriate.
80 to 100 new pieces of content will be added to the LeapSearch library each month, says Leapfrog.
Do LeapPad games work on the Leapster?
The majority of LeapPad games work on the Leapster and vice versa – parents can check compatibility of any game on the LeapFrog App Centre as each game has a list under it showing what devices it will work for, see below.
Does LeapPad Ultra use cartridges?
Yes. All the LeapPad models can load games on cartridge.
Does the LeapPad Ultra play movies? If so, which ones?
The Ultra does not play full-length movies, but there are video clips and episodes of things like Thomas the Tank Engine, Fireman Sam and The Hive.
Does the LeapPad Ultra have free apps?
The LeapPad Ultra XDi comes with 11 free apps: Pet Pad Party, Pet Chat, Photo Fun Ultra, Music Player, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, Note Pad and Voice Memo, and the choice of an extra app to download, as with the LeapPad3.
Can you download songs on to the LeapPad?
Leapfrog offers a host of music to download, from Disney songs to Kidz Bop and even They Might Be Giants. And you can now upload your own or chart songs and music on to the LeapPad using the Leapfrog Music Player: how to add your own music to the LeapPad detailed here, and here for earlier LeapPad models. Note that songs must be in MP3 format. You can convert most music formats into MP3 using iTunes.
Does the LeapPad Ultra have Netflix?
No, the LeapPad cannot be connected to services such as Netflix or Amazon prime/LoveFilm.
Does the LeapPad Ultra have YouTube?
There is no access to You Tube for children to explore videos within this network, but within LeapSearch (the LeapPad Ultra’s child-safe web browser) there is a large amount of pre-approved and vetted video content for children to view and enjoy. It’s actually a beneficial feature that the child can’t search YouTube, which is rammed full of offensive, violent and inappropriate content. That said, some parents will be disappointed by the quantity of available video via LeapSearch.
Does LeapPad charge with USB?
The latest LeapPads come with rechargeable batteries (with USB charging cables included), as did the first Ultra tablet. The older LeapPad 2 is battery operated, but you can buy a separate recharger pack at the LeapFrog store. The LeapPad2 Power and Ultra came with their own rechargeable batteries and adaptor.
Do the LeapPad 2 or 3 have wi-fi?
Previously only the top-of-the-range LeapPad Ultra had wi-fi or wireless capability. Now both the LeapPad 3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi (and original Ultra) have wi-fi capability. The older LeapPad2 does not.
Can you buy cases and accessories for the LeapPads?
Yes, there are zippered, patterned and silicon gel skin cases that hold and protect the LeapPad, and even a fashion handbag. Other accessories include battery rechargers, car adaptors, car viewers, headphones, storage cases. Make sure you buy the right one for the model you have.
What are the best headphones for the LeapPad?
Leapfrog sells its own £10 headphones, specially designed to fit children’s ears, but we recommend you look at our round-up review of the best children’s headphones as you are likely to want to use them for other devices (DVD players, iPads, etc) as well and we recommend headphones that have a volume limiter built in.