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★★★ Open House ★★★
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Expert Review as Expert
LeapStart 3D Learning System
© 2018 LeapFrog

CTR Review
buckleit
09/25/2018
Ease of Use
9/10
Educational
8/10
Entertaining
9/10
Design Features
8/10
Value
7/10
Total:
82%
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
All Evaluations
Sound Control
8/10
Design Features
8/10
Value
7/10
Durable
10/10
Worry Free
10/10
Bug and crash free
10/10
Battery Life
9/10
Total:
88.57%
For ages 2-7
For grades T, P, K, 1, 2
$50, Smart Toy, LeapPad
Teaches: reading, counting, logic, science
There's nothing actually "3D" about about this year's LeapStart tablet, other than a small pop-up video screen that delivers short 2D videos that are mixed in with the standard LeapStart audio feedback. As with past LeapStart systems (originally called the LeapPad), this 2018 edition is durable, responsive when tapped with the stylus, and is designed to work with a library of 25 spiral bound "books" that are sold separately for $8 each. A preview book is included, and there are two pages of built-in content -- a counting game and a music synthesizer. The preview experiences are disappointing -- with frequent nags to get your parent to download more content. So get ready to pay at least another $8, plus some time setting up an account to download more content to your Mac or Windows computer, which can be passed to your LeapStart via the included USB cable. We don't see why -- in these days of cheap RAM -- the entire LeapStart library couldn't be pre-loaded into the device to avoid this step.

There are no cartridges. After you put in the two AA batteries (not included) you are required to login to LeapFrog's server to make an account if you want to download to download new content. There's also a lot of big-name licensed Disney and Paw Patrols content.

Why not a higher rating? The LeapStart system is still a solid early learning system, and as with previous systems it has the potential to make a long car ride fun and educational. And there's a headphone jack, too, for sanity's sake. So it earns every one of it's four stars. But your initial investment gives you less initial content, and a lot of pushing to buy the next book. From a pedagogy point of view, we find too many of the activities to be machine-paced rather than child paced, especially when the short videos are playing. See the testing video for examples. This is a cardinal sin from a CTREX rating point of view, and previous LeapPads were less pushy. The bottom line? It's good. But it could be so much better.
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