Which LeapPad kids tablet to buy choose version

Which Leapfrog LeapPad is best value? Where can you buy the cheapest LeapPad? Questions that will be on many parents' minds in the run up to Christmas.

It’s going to be a war of the tablets this Christmas, and tablets for kids will be the key battleground. Will parents opt for an expensive iPad, a cheaper Android tablet or one of the tablets built specifically for children?

One of the main contenders for best kids tablet is Leapfrog’s LeapPad. It was one of the biggest-selling toys last Christmas and is sure to be so again. It’s suitable for children aged around 3-7.

But this year there are three versions of the LeapPad to choose from.

LeapPad Ultra green and pink models

The £119 Ultra (above) is the top-end, wi-fi-enabled model with child-safe internet browsing, larger screen, rechargeable battery and 8GB of storage. Read our LeapPad Ultra review for full details, and watch our kids video review of the LeapPad Ultra.

Leapfrog LeapPad 2 green and pink

If you just want a cheaper kids tablet without the Internet functions then consider the entry-level LeapPad 2 (above).

Leapfrog LeapPad Power version

The LeapPad 2 is like a mini version of the Ultra but without the wi-fi or internet capabilities. It is also available as the LeapPad 2 Power (above) for £89.99 or without rechargeable batteries as just the LeapPad 2 for £69.99. Read our LeapPad 2 review for full details, and watch our kids video review of the LeapPad 2.

The LeapPad 2 and LeapPad Power are much the same device, with the exception being the Power’s built-in rechargeable batteries – the Ultra also features rechargeables.

If you already have rechargeable AA batteries then, at £69, the non-Power version is the best deal for the LeapPad 2. If you don't have your own rechargeables then we recommend you either buy some (handy all round the house) or invest the extra £20 in the Power version as you don't want to be running out buying batteries in the middle of your child's tablet play time. Indeed you don't want to be buying expensive new batteries all the time anyway.

(For battery rechargers we like the Energizer Universal Battery Charger that can handle not just AA batteries (up to an impressive 2,650mAh) but also AAA, C, D and 9V. The Duracell Rechargeable Multi-Battery Charger is also recommended. Both cost under £20. The advantage of buying a separate recharger is that you can buy extra rechargeable batteries for sue around the home.)

But there are other differences between the LeapPad models, too,

Each comes with different software games and apps.

The LeapPad Ultra comes with 11 included apps worth £70:

  • Art Studio Ultra app
  • Photo Fun Ultra App
  • Pet Pad Party app
  • Utility Suite (Calculator; Note Pad; Calendar; Voice Memo; Clock with Stopwatch)
  • Pet Chat App
  • MP3 Player with LeapFrog learning songs (10 songs included)
  • Choice of one free app download: Sugar Bugs, Scaredy Cat and Ozzie and Mack eBook.

The LeapPad Power comes with 9 included apps worth £40:

  • Art Studio App
  • Photo Lab App
  • Pet Pad App
  • Utility Suite (Calculator; Calendar; Note pad; Clock with Stopwatch)
  • LeapFrog learning songs, (5 songs included)
  • Choice of one of three apps to download for free

The LeapPad 2 comes with 5 included apps:

  • Cartoon Director Creativity app
  • Art Studio Creativity apo
  • Pet Pad
  • LeapFrog learning songs (5 songs included)
  • Choice of additional free app

Best place to buy LeapPad Ultra, LeapPad 2 and Power

Where you can find the cheapest Leapfrog LeapPad?

The LeapPad Ultra has an RRP of £119 but we’ve seen it for as little as £75 online (from Amazon here, Smyths and Toys R Us, for instance), so offers the best value for money given its larger screen, more software, and wi-fi functionality – if you can buy it for that price. Remember to check postage & packing when ordering online – and don’t leave it to the last minute as these will surely sell fast as Christmas approaches, and vendors may raise prices when stocks fall low.

If you can find the LeapPad 2 or LeapPad Power even cheaper than their £69 or £89 RRPs then you could also pick up a bargain. At the time of writing we saw the LeapPad Power selling for just under £60 online but the LeapPad 2 about £65, so the Power might actually be the cheaper deal! But consider the Ultra too if it's not much more than that itself.

You will need a battery recharger for the LeapPad 2, so that will add £15-£20 onto the price if you don’t already own one – although this will have extended use for your other battery-powered devices around the house so might be worth buying separately rather than paying the extra £20 for the Power.

Each LeapPad has plenty for kids to play with, but clearly the Ultra comes with the most apps and games.

While the LeapPads are much cheaper than even the iPad mini the LeapPad games and apps aren’t as cheap as iPad or Android apps (under £5 for individual apps but over £15 for some cartridge packs).

One thing you can feel good about, though, is that all these games and apps are created for their educational as well as their entertaining features.

LeapPad vs iPad or Android tablets

The new Tesco Hudl, reviewed, is a cheap (£119) Android tablet that’s sure to fly off the shelves at Christmas – if there are any left by then. Apple's cheapest iPad is the iPad mini, which still weighs in at £269.

The Hudl, as with other Android tablets and iPads, offers a lot more family use than the LeapPads, with a much greater and less expensive choice of apps.

But parents should remember that these tablets aren’t as safe for children as the LeapPad Ultra with its child-friendly internet content or the LeapPad 2 and Power that can’t access the internet at all. Sometimes it’s worth spending less for less.

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