LeapFrog’s popular LeapPad tablet for children has been a bestseller since the original LeapPad Explorer in 2011. Each year a new model brings new features, and 2015 is no exception with the latest model, the LeapPad Platinum, building on the success of the LeapPad Ultra XDi. See Best kids tablets.
A major new feature is Imagicard – a new kind digital and physical learning experience for kids that brings characters and learning to life with the snap of a picture from one of 30 and more interactive collectible cards that connect with full-length LeapFrog games. For more details, see below.
Like the XDi the LeapPad Platinum kids tablet boasts a 7-inch multi-touch capacitive screen, Wi-Fi, “kid-safe web browsing” and per-to-peer gameplay. See all children's tablet reviews.
It features front and back video (480p) and still (2-megapixel) cameras, a rechargeable battery, 8GB of memory (apparently enough to hold 40,000 photos or 100 games) and parental controls.
The new tablet comes with ten apps (Music Player with ten songs included, Pet Pad Party, Pet Chat, Photo Fun Ultra, five utility apps and a choice of one other app to download).
LeapFrog has a store featuring over 500 games, eBooks and videos that can be downloaded for the LeapPad.
Its Just for Me learning system personalises select games up to ten ways from remembering curricular progress across games to receiving immediate feedback on answers, automatically adjusting learning levels and providing hint button tutorials.
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum: UK price, release date, and best LeapPad deals
The new LeapPad Platinum is priced at £99, and will be available in green and pink models from July 2015.
LeapFrog will continue to sell the smaller LeapPad3, which has an RRP of £89.99; and has most of the same features as the Platinum but half the memory (4GB) and a lower video-recording quality (240p). Read our LeapPad3 review.
It also sells a cheaper and slightly smaller LeapPad2 (also sometimes known as the LeapPadGlo) for £69.99, although at the time of writing the LeapPad3 was actually cheaper online, and the 2 doesn't feature a rechargeable battery or LeapSearch functionality. We'd recommend considering either the LeapPad3 or Platinum, as the better features are worth any extra you pay for them.
Both the LeapPad Platinum and LeapPad3 will likely be found cheaper online. The LeapPad3 is already available for just over £50. Check here for the best LeapPad deals on Amazon.
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum: hands-on preview
Leapfrog claims that the Platinum is the toughest LeapPad yet, with its shatter-safe screen and a re-engineered frame that features an enerfy-absorbing, wrap-around bumper.This new bumper certainly reaches right round the tablet, unlike that found on the XDi LeapPad. This might also make the Platinum model less likely to be dropped in the first place.
The LeapPad Platinum is slightly smaller than the older XDi model, although the screen is around the same physical size. The new LeapPad Platinum measures 23cm-x-15cm-x-2.5cm, making it 0.5cm less wide but marginally deeper than the LeapPad Ultra XDi, which measured 23cm-x-15.5cm-x-2.33cm.
At 0.5kg the Platinum is lighter than the Ultra XDi, which weighed in at 0.65kg. You can feel the difference with the two tablets in hand, and the lighter the better with kids tablets. The smaller (19cm-x-13.2cm-x-2.5cm) LeapPad3 weighs 0.4kg so may appeal more to parents of younger children.
The new Platinum LeapPad features a faster processor, which is always a welcome update for faster start up and game play. The new LeapPad's chip runs at 1GHz, compared to the XDi's 800MHz. The LeapPad3 also has a 1GHz processor, but the LeaPad2 is slowe with a 550MHz chip.
LeapFrog claims the Platinum has a 5-hour battery life, compared to the older XDI's 6 hours (also matched by the LeapPad3).
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum: age range
The LeapPad Platinum is aimed at children aged 3-9 years, although we think that kids at the upper level of that age range might find it a little “childish”. See our LeapPad XDi review for more details.
From a design point of view the LeapPad certainly doesn’t look overly childish but the more mature 8-9 year old might prefer the sophisticated looks of an iPad or Android tablet.
We think the LeapPads are better suited to ages 2-7. The starting age of 3 is probably there because of the risk of the under threes swallowing things, which means nearly all toys warn against use by such toddlers. In our experience, however, an astute two year old could easily have a lot of fun with a LeapPad.
LeapFrog’s kid-safe LeapSearch (available on the Wi-Fi-packing LeapPad Platinum and LeapPad3) allows children to browse curated and educationalist-approved web content. It’s by no means the whole world wide web, which is a good thing considering the horrors that await on the Internet, but some parents might prefer a little more content to be available behind the parental controls.
That said, if you’re a parent who hands over an adult tablet or smartphone to a child without properly making it child-safe you should certainly re-think your actions.
The LeapPad and LeapSearch offer a small walled-garden approach that you can be assured is safe for your kids.
LeapFrog Imagicard: game play and card collecting
A new feature of the LeapPad Platinum is the LeapFrog Imagicard, a system that uses real cards and the LeapPad’s camera to create a series of games. The LeapPad comes with six cards, and you can buy extras. The child captures the card by taking a picture of it using the LeapPad’s camera.
LeapFrog Imagicard launches with three interactive games (costing £19.99) that feature favourite characters including LeapFrog’s Letter Factory, PAW Patrol, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Letter Factory Adventures, for example, includes more than 50 trivia questions and 18 carnival attractions, and can help with reading skills such as phonics, spellings, and word sounds and rhyme.
Each game features LeapFrog’s proprietary Just For Me Learning Technology, which personalises the experience for each child by adapting automatically during play, offering tutorials and more to keep kids challenged.
LeapFrog Imagicard is also backwards compatible with all LeapFrog LeapPad tablets with the exception of the original LeapPad 1.
In addition to the multi-levelled downloadable digital game and interactive cards, LeapFrog Imagicard comes with a tin for easy storage, and a play mat for card sorting and offline games. All 30+ cards are also digitally included in the game, so children can still play the full games while on-the-go.
“Through parent and child testing, we found that parents loved the idea of a collectible card experience that helped their children develop and grow as they played. And, children loved that they could bring their favourite characters to life in an interactive tablet experience, as well as collect and share cards with their friends. We know that children learn best when they’re having fun, and our new LeapFrog Imagicard experience delivers on this in a big way,” said Dr Jody LeVos, director of learning at LeapFrog.