Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rainbow Toy Awards 2011 - Leapster Explorer

We’ve had fun with the new Leapster Explorer recently and want to share our experiences of using it….tomorrow is Rainbow Awards 2011 day, so we’re eagerly waiting til 10.30 tomorrow to find out if the toy we reviewed won the award!

Cars Leapster Explorer is chunky and able to withstand being used a lot!  One of the things I found was that our young reviewer was enjoying himself so much that the batteries were wearing out before he wanted to finish playing! It thoroughly absorbed him. 

After I had set up his username and connected to the pc as per the quick start guide (which took a while due to my screen being small), he played with the app which came on the console.  He really enjoyed creating a pet and then having to do tasks to get more treats and food for his pet.  He came back to play it again and again, and the following day played the Cars game, which he really enjoys.  If he hadn’t have worn the batteries out, he’d still be playing it!

There’s so much to do with the Leapster Explorer, we’ve only scratched the surface by playing the game that was included and the additional Cars game.  There are more apps that can be added – it can be used as an ebook reader (looking forward to looking into that!) and can be connected online to enhance play.  I love the fact I can track his progress through the Parent Account online when I hook up his console.  The best thing about this is he’s not just playing a game.  He’s having to fulfil educational tasks to be able to complete the games and progress, so for me, this is the ultimate in consoles for children as it is a learning experience….the first game he played was to create and look after his own pet – in doing so, he also got to trace letter of the alphabet in order to progress in the game…and he loves it.  Because it is game format he does return to it day after day – and I don’t mind him playing it as it’s educational.

The console is really chunky and well built.  It doesn’t feel cheap and nasty.  The removal of batteries is fairly easy – but – in comparison with the Leapster 2 console which we have, we found the coin unlocking mechanisim didn’t look quite right – despite putting in place a couple of times the screw part looks as if it’s going in at an angle and not straight…so confidence on that part is not 100%.  The games for this console are a lot thinner and different to those from previous consoles, which although it reflects the smaller console games about at the moment, in comparison they look really thin and I’m wondering about the longevity of the game cartridges themselves.  They certainly aren’t as chunky as the previous games were.  Fitting together was simple – out of the box use and make sure you insert the cartridge the correct way which was trial and error the first time round.  Very simple.

This scores top marks for packaging - it was simple.  There was enough to protect the toy in transit without damaging it.  Very simple to open and once opened by adult fingers, very easy for a child to get to the prize!!  No annoying plastic here – just cardboard and one piece of plastic to keep the console in place.  Very efficient, user friendly and eco-friendly with no hazards for their target market. 

This has a lot of play value, as well as unconscious educational play.  I know from experience that this is going to be a loved console….and we’ll have to get a charger pack so we don’t run out of batteries (or more rechargeable batteries!)

Setting up via the Quick Start Guide looked simple enough….but caused issues for me as we’d already got a Leapfrog account, which I couldn’t remember the password to.  Went through the steps of account password recovery and it didn’t recognise the email address….so I made another account but then couldn’t see on my screen any option to accept what I’d done (the info might have been off my screen….there was no scroll feature and I couldn’t do anything else)…tried online to find customer services is only open Mon-Frid.  I later had an email come through saying my password had been reset….odd since it said it couldn’t find the email address… from that side of things not a great start. 

Overall we love this console, and can’t wait to explore more find out about what can be done with it.  Although it says it can be an ereader (or read ebooks) it doesn’t detail which format, or if they are books specifically for the console.  We’ll have to check online when it’s linked to the pc and when we download the first app using our Leaplet download card that came with it :)

 So - will the Leapster Explorer win the Rainbow Awards 2011?  Tune in here from 10.30 to find out!!

Many thanks to Leapster and Rainbow Awards for having us on board to review for this years awards.  This item was received in return for an honest review for the Rainbow Awards.

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