LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet Review

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

Recently I received a LeapPad from Amazon to review and I am sharing my thoughts below.

The LeapPad has a great 5″ screen. It is large and bright. I didn’t see a way to control the brightness. The screen is larger than the Leapster Explorer Screen, which measures 3.2″. The resolution for the LeapPad is 480 x 272. (The Leapster Explorer was 420 x 420.) It is a touch screen. You can use your finger or the supplied stylus. The stylus is magnetic, but it can be harnessed to the device with a supplied cord. An extra stylus is supplied in case one gets broken or lost. That has happened 3 times to us with other Leapsters – so it is great having that extra on hand.

The LeapPad device is white with green accents. There is also a violet option, which is nice for the girls. On the front of the tablet there is a power button, sound down and sound up button, and home button. There is also a large silver button that can be used like a finger control, to move a cursor up, down, left, right or explore other options.

The LeapPad comes with a camera, video recorder and microphone. The camera can take 30,000 pictures and the LeapPad can record 120 minutes of video.

GAMES & ACTIVITIES: 

The LeapPad is similar to the Leapster Explorer in what kids can do with it. They can read e-books, play learning games, enhance art and animation skills, listen to and play music, learn writing, watch videos, and do flash cards. It also has a built-in camera and video recorder, while that requires an additional accessory for the Leapster Explorer.

One thing I LOVE about the LeapPad is that it works with other Leapster Explorer Games and Apps! That means if I download an app for my son’s Leapster Explorer, I can also upload it onto my other son’s LeapPad. And the boys can also share cartridges. And with the LeapPad came a HUGE library of game cartridges and apps to choose from. Most games and apps are extra, though, not included with a LeapPad purchase.

What game(s) do come with your LeapPad purchase? 

1. PetPad: Learn to draw letters while teaching a custom pet tricks. Keep your pet healthy and clean with feeding and washing. The Leapster Explorer also comes with PetPad, but with the LeapPad kids can use the microphone to “blow dry” their pet, they shake the device to help their pet JUMP over a pond to pop balloons and they can even tilt the device to move the pet as it follows them onto their home page. You need to connect the LeapPad to your computer to use collected points to purchase food and accessories for the pet. Don’t worry – it won’t die if you don’t do it. But it encourages you as a parent to connect the game to the computer so you can track your child’s learning progress.

2. Story Studio: All About Me: The artwork, photos, writing and recordings kids create all culminate in the Story Studio experience. In the Story Studio, kids create their own book that can be uploaded to view in LeapFrog Connect or shared with friends via Facebook or e-mail.

3. Art Studio: I am SO THRILLED that Art Studio was included with the LeapPad. The Leapster Explorer didn’t have an included Art Program – so my boys were using the Art Studio from Mr. Pencil or Tangled to get creative. The Leapster 2 DID come with an Art Studio, so I was a little sad when I found out the Leapster Explorer didn’t. And whenever a parent asked me what game to get for their new Leapster Explorer, I always said, “Mr. Pencil saves Doodleburg,” because it was educational and creative. But with the included Art Studio, it gives me more options for what games we can get next. With the Art Studio the boys use stamps, shapes, pattern brushes, pencils, erasers (all virtual) to create pictures and express their creativity.

4. Camera/ Video Recorder: The LeapPad has a built-in camera and video recorder. My son used it immediately to take a picture of me. And then I used it to take a picture of HIM for his profile. That’s when I realized that the camera is low-res. He loves taking photos and videos, but he can tell the difference of quality. But it is good for the purpose and helps keep the cost of the product lower than if it was a higher-res camera. With the camera kids can take pictures and videos and then add fun effects.

Additional games, books and videos have to be added either as an app or with a cartridge. Remember, there is a library of over 100 choices. Additional apps and games are separate reviews on theMomBuzz. Please refer to the bottom of the post to connect you to these other reviews.

WHO TO BUY THIS FOR: 

The LeapPad is designed for children 4 to 9. I would actually feel comfortable giving this to an advanced, tech savvy 2 year old. (Parents and grandparents will know who I am talking about! So many toddlers can use a smart phone better than an adult. This is a much better alternative to giving a toddler your precious iPad.)

WHY BUY IT? 

Why do I suggest the LeapPad for kids 2 – 6? Well, my sons have owned a Leapster since they were 2 and I feel that the educational games have helped them with their writing, science and match skills. It’s a creative outlet. And it’s a great way to disguise learning as fun. I know some parents purchase the Nintendo DSis and other handhelds, but we’ve gotten away without needing to purchase one yet – even though their cousins own those handhelds. My kids have been happy with their Leapsters and the new LeapPad as their handheld and entertainment of choice. And I prefer it to, knowing the games were designed with learning in mind.

Plus, the Leapster Explorer and the LeapPad are great that you can keep challenging them with new apps, they are cross-compatible to take each other’s games and the LeapPad remembers your child’s progress from game-to-game and book-to-book.

Finally, maybe you are trying to decide between the Leapster Explorer and the LeapPad. Both are EXCELLENT devices. I :heart: them both. But with the LeapPad you are getting the camera/video recorder built in, it has a microphone, it has a larger screen and kids will experience a new way of reading with Ultra eBooks, an interactive cinematic reading experience. (I’ll post more about that this week when I review the Cars2 Ultra eBook.)

MORE THAN ONE PLAYER: 

The LeapPad does allow for more than one person to sign-on to the game. Only one person can play at a time. But… if my oldest is in school and my youngest wants to play, I can sign-in under his name. So then the LeapPad will know that the younger brother is playing and will adjust the settings to make the games challenging enough for his level of learning.

And I have to say, when I first turned this on (after my 5-year old had been playing for a few hours) I saw that he created a profile for ME. How sweet is that? He had my name, my picture and chose a nice pink background for me. :heart:

RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES: 

I am also really excited that this is the first LeapFrog device I own that accepts rechargeable batteries. Previously all the devices stated that peak performance wouldn’t occur with those batteries. But that has changed now! And trust me, your kids will be running down the batteries in the beginning as they won’t want to go anywhere without the LeapPad.

WHAT IT COMES WITH: 

When you purchase the LeapPad, it comes with a CD to get LeapFrog Connect on your computer, a USB cord and an extra stylus.

WHAT YOU MAY WANT TO BUY: 

* LeapPad Case to keep it protected when not in use
* LeapPad Gel Skin to protect it when being used
* Headphones so you don’t have to listen to the games when traveling or in an office

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN : BOX SET, BLU-RAYS AND DVDS

If you’re a fan of ALL-STAR Superman, things are pretty awesome for you right now. Not only is today the release date of the ALL-STAR SUPERMAN animated film, but we’ve also got a brand-new action figure 2-pack of the Man of Steel and his Bizarro World double now available for purchase. Check it out:

The All-Star Superman Bizarro Box Set features both characters as 6-inch figures from DC Direct and comes complete with a 160-page reprint of All-Star Superman, Vol. 1! Definitely a great find for collectors or Superman fans who want to snag the book and some sweet figures together.

And, of course, the reviews are in for the flick and are generally pretty favourable. Here’s a pretty balanced one from HuffPo’s Scott Mendelson:

If you ask most casual comic book fans to name their favorite Superman story, they are likely to choose one of the countless origin stories (A Superman For All Seasons, Superman: Birthright, Superman: Red Son, etc) or the handful of stories that deal with ‘the end of Superman’ (The Death of Superman, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, etc). Frank Miller would tell you that it’s because Superman is such a godlike character, that the only story worth telling is his origin, since most other tales inevitably deal with how a god deals with the puny problems of mankind. But, without knocking many of the fine stories that take place in the middle of Superman’s career (Superman: Peace On Earth, Lost Souls, etc), the character is such a primal piece of American myth-making that it makes sense that the most powerful narratives would be the two distinctive Campellian archetypes: the hero’s journey and the old man coming to terms with death. All-Star Superman is a solid example of the latter, even if it loses much of the impact of the original source material.

A token amount of plot: Superman (James Denton) is dying. After rescuing an imperiled space shuttle that was sabotaged by Lex Luther (Anthony LaPaglia), the Man of Steel has received a lethal dose of radiation from the very yellow sun that gives him his powers, and his days are indeed numbered. With time running out, the last son of Krypton tries to make the most of the time he has left, which includes getting serious with Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks), making some genuine decisions about the contents of his Fortress of Solitude, and making some kind of peace with Luthor. But unexpected complications ensue and the final days of Superman’s life may hold the key to his greatest triumph.

First of all, if you’ve ever read a Grant Morrison comic book, you know that this is not necessarily a film for complete newbies. The film is a condensed adaptation of his acclaimed twelve-issue stand-alone story arc that was published from 2005-2008. Grant Morrison does not generally do street-level, real-world comic book storytelling. Morrison pushes the fantastical elements of these characters as far as he can get away with and often goes out of his way to include characters and concepts that go way back in the Superman mythos. Even with a token amount of streamlining (there is quite a bit left out of this 76-minute feature), there is a fair amount of offbeat and heavily science-fiction-y elements still intact. Point being, if you’re just a casual Superman fan, you might be a little confused by much of the film. Still, the picture works best when it focuses on the core relationships that Superman shares with Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.

In fact, the film’s core flaw is just how much is missing from the original story arc. Dwayne McDuffie and director Sam Liu have cut much of the smaller-scale humanity from the story, omitting character beats and somber meditation while keeping most of the wham-bam spectacle. The original comic series was basically a series of ‘things that Superman wanted to do before he died’, and many of the issues were nearly stand-alone. Most of the ‘challenges’ have been cut in order to focus on the portions of the story that more easily gel into a complete narrative. The film plays less like a Cliff Notes version of the story than a heavily abridged variation that often feels cut to the bone.

Still, there is much to appreciate in what made the cut. Despite the PG rating, the film is full of intense action scenes and occasionally jolting violence (it’s no less violent than the PG-13 DCAU films, just lacking in blood and gore). A mid-film rampage by the Parasite is gripping, even as it seemingly shows Clark Kent committing murder (when you freeze someone and leave then frozen in the path of rampaging monster, that’s on you). And the final battle, which I won’t reveal, is rooted in character and relationships more than pure superhero smack-downs.

The vocal cast is solid all-around, with James Denton and Christina Hendricks making a compelling romantic duo. Anthony LaPaglia makes a fine Lex Luthor, but I could not shake the sounds of Clancy Brown, especially has Luthor’s arc has more than a little in common with the dynamite Mark Miller story “How Much Can One Man Hate?” (Superman Adventures 27). The animation is peerless in the direct-to-DVD realm, as usual, with the color scheme and character models accurately reflecting the original comic book.

Overall, All-Star Superman is a suitably epic look at the would-be final days of ‘Earth’s Greatest Protector’. If I miss certain portions of the story that didn’t make the film (such as the Smallville flashback sequences and the creation of Earth Q), I must concede that the film more-or-less works as an often weird and occasionally goofy standalone action picture. The finale reaches an emotional crescendo that makes up for some of the more outlandish moments in the middle portion of the film, and it’s certainly a more artful effort than Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Just remember that this is a Grant Morrison story, so it is not what anyone would call ‘casual viewing’. But if you’re willing to treat this film as more than just a random rental, it’s worth the effort.

Grade: B-

Interest piqued? Than be sure to pick up the film–or the comic that inspired it–right here:

All-Star Superman (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)


All-Star Superman (Amazon Exclusive Limited Edition with Litho Cel) [Blu-ray]

All-Star Superman (Single-Disc Edition)

Dcu All-Star Superman (Two-Disc Special Edition)

All Star Superman, Vol. 1

Chez Geeks – Hobby & Collectibles Montreal Store

Chez Geeks Board to Death

Chez Geeks is a new hobby and collectible store opening up on Saint Denis street in the Quartier Latin district.  Located near the Berri-UQAM Metro Station….now you can hop off the subway, pick up a board game and hop back on!     They will be carrying:  Tabletop Games, Board Games, Collectibles, Books, Warhammer, Magic, Dungeons and Dragons, Bobble heads, Action Figures, Anime, Gifts,  and much more…

Chez Geeks
1663 St-Denis
Montreal, Quebec
(Between Ontario and Maisoneuve…in front of the Le Saint-Sulpice Cafe Bar)

(Berri-UQAM Metro Station)

The store is still in phase one construction but will be opening very soon….keep an eye out for them.  In the meantime, you can always check out their affiliated website called Board to Death TV, the coolest place to get your video reviews and you can join the community of gamers who rate and write reviews. They also giveaway board games each month to active users so be sure to join their community.  Don’t be shy…go check them out….

board to death tv

The Montreal ToyCon Recap by Board To Death!

Did you miss Sunday’s MONTREAL TOY CON? Or maybe you attended the action figure fest but want to relive some of the memories from a time when you were surrounded by the best and brightest of Montreal’s collecting scene? Well, then you’re in luck! Because Board to Death just did a little story about the convention, which you can find right here:

There was a lot of different vintage and new toys for all collectors.  Here are some photos of the Montreal ToyCon held in October 2010.   We plan to have another show in Spring of 2011….we hope to see you all there….

BEYBLADE: METAL FUSION – BATTLE FORTRESS

Fan of Beyblades? Well, we’ve got a ton of ’em: old ones, new ones and some available for pre-order if you want to make sure you guarantee that you get the latest and greatest of the spinning tops. Check ’em out in our BeyBlade Metal Fusion Section!

We’ve got everything from Dark Bull Red to Storm Pegasus Blue, Earth Eagle to the electronic Dark Wolf, plus launchers, assembly chambers, stadiums and more! If you’re a collector, you’ve come to the right place. And of course, if you’re a super-fan, then there’s even more to see in November when a brand new game–BEYBLADE: METAL FUSION BATTLE FORTRESS–hits shelves! If you haven’t gotten a chance to learn about it, here’s a quick demo review from Platform Nation!

Spinning it’s way to your Nintendo Wii and DS November 9, 2010 is Beyblade Metal Fusion-Battle Fortress. This upcoming game that you may recognize from the TV show or maybe you own a few Beyblades yourself is set to be a great game for fans and that is the only targeted audience I can think of. The game follows a game specific story that has characters from the TV show and you find yourself looking for answers as to where the worlds most powerful Beyblades are disappearing to. The game will have 4 player battle mode that will allow you to play with 3 of your friends or AI. The game is set to have customizable stadiums and various terrains to do battle.

I played this game on the Wii and that is where it should be played as you are attempting to knock out other Beyblades and progress the story. The function of the Wii controller is where this game should be played and I think fans that pick it up on the DS will be disappointed. Now don’t count this game out as there are a lot of fans out there of the TV series and the physical Beyblades themselves, but I found out that I am not in that category after playing the game.

Naturally, you’ll have to play it yourself to truly form an opinion, but for now, learn all you can! And check out the trailer right here!

STARRO THE CONQUEROR: SDCC EXCLUSIVE

STARRO THE CONQUEROR is the main attraction in this brand new figure set featuring the super-villain facing off against Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Flash and Martian Manhunter. It’s a San Diego Comic Con exclusive from this year’s show and has just arrived on our shelves! If you’re a fan of the classic covers, then this is definitely one for you: it brilliantly recreates The Brave and the Bold Issue #28 and the epic battle waged on the front page.

But best of all–and I mean this–is the packaging. Normally, I’m all about the contents, but this is probably the coolest box I’ve ever encountered on any toy or collectible. Why?

Because it talks. Seriously. With the voice of Kevin Conroy (Batman in Batman the Animated Series, Gotham Knight, JLA, the Arkham Asylum video game, etc.), the box narrates exactly what’s going down on the cover/in the showcase. Really.

In fact, here’s a review of the figure that gives you a look at just how awesome that is.

Each of the little figures stands about 3.75 inches tall, making them proportional to DC’s Infinite Heroes collection. Starro himself stands about twice that high and is wired rubber for some excellent bending action worthy of the intergalactic starfish he is.

To snag him or any of the other awesome toys from 2010’s show, check out our San Diego Comic Con Exclusives section over at CmdStore! Just click the pic below!