LeapTV: 2014’s Hottest Christmas Toy for 3 to 8 Year Olds

leapfrog leaptv

Computer TV games have evolved to the revolutionary Nintendo Wii which was a game changer as it lifted people from the coach and actually made them move.  While there are some games in all consoles for children, no one had created a console just for kids that is until now.  Toy giant Funtastic has leveraged its reputation on Leap TV from educational brand LeapFrog.

We all know the LeapFrog has been making educational toys for years. LeapFrog was the first brand to take on the child tablet market with its own range of tablets which is most current incarnation is the LeapPad Ultra.  The great benefit of the LeapPad was that enabled parents to take back their own tablets and they are assured of the content that the children have a hold of.

LeapTV is LeapFrog’s move into the gaming console market and is not meant to be a rival of Xbox or PS4.   LeapTV is aimed at three to eight years so you can be assured that they won’t be venturing into Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.   Set for release in November 2014, you’ll quickly see what your $229.00 gets you for your money and your children’s enjoyment.

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So what is LeapTV

Without too finer point on it, LeapTV is the love child if you married a Microsoft’s Kinect and a Nintendo Wii.   It’s designed so your little 3 to 8 year olds can have an introduction to gaming and also get physical at the same time.   At the heart of it is a controller designed to give a traditional gaming experience. The sobering thing for parents and carers alike is that unlike a traditional gaming console, like the LeapPads before, this is a closed system.  There is no multiplayer and play is only local in one room.  And that’s just as well, because if it wasn’t for this closed system, you can sure that an inquisitive 7 or 8 year old would find out how to play “someone” in any chat room.   Also, they won’t be able to download games and applications at your expense.

How does it Work?

Consistent with the LeapFrog predecessors, there are no discs.  LeapTV Games come in either cartridge or digital form and will cost $30 to $60 each.  LeapFrog will launch eight games with the console and hope to have over 100 videos and games available before the end of the year.   LeapFrog has been busy tying up licencing deals with Disney so children can play games involving Jake and the Neverland Pirates or Princess Sofia. Anyone that has had contact three to eight year olds will know these characters and we’d be surprised if Frozen doesn’t get a nod as well in the not too distant future.

The Technical Stuff

LeapTV is consists of:

The Console

The Console is a circular disc-shaped which sits up on a small grey stand.  At the front is a where the where the physical game cartridges slot into place.  The back of the console hides the HDMI Out port to connect to a TV and output 720p HD quality graphics.

There is also a USB port, Ethernet port and a mains power port. LeapFrog has anticipated the hassle in finding a HDMI cable and provided you with one up front.  The console also has its own built in Wi-Fi so that you can download additional apps from the LeapFrog Store and download digital versions of the games.

The Camera

 

No modern gaming console is complete within a camera and why should a 3 to 8 year old miss out.   LeapTV has a full body motion gaming camera with 640 x 480 resolution. The LeapTV camera is around the same size as a PlayStation Eye camera and which can be positioned just in front or on top of the TV.

The Controller

LeapFrog has done its homework with the controller.  They haven’t simply taken the best bits from DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller.  As LeapTV is designed specifically for little people, the controller is designed for smaller hands.   The controller is made of plastic with some rubber on the end of the long arms making it nice and easy to grip.

The controller has five buttons and a single analogue stick all within easy reach. There is a hint button up top when pressed also offers players help when they are stuck on a particular level.

The controller needs two AA batteries to power it and this will give you around 25 hours of play before you need to swap them out. The console only comes with one controller so you will have to shell out $44.95 for an additional one.

So does it Work?

The reports are that LeapTV works rather well.   The main menu screen has a very simple carousel-style user interface with voiceovers to help distinguish between the different modes. The graphics are probably better than they need to be for children with 720p giving a sharp HD image.  They will look great at home on a HDTV.

While the motion games showed a few signs of lag but overall are extremely accurate with the camera performing well with the games where you hit objects.   The experience was similar with the dancing games and the child won’t really notice a lag.

The skateboard game is perfectly suited to children and the use of both the buttons and stick combine well.  The controllers respond very similar to any handheld device and the experience is one that is good for children, especially those for whom LeapTV is aimed at.

Overall Rating
At $219.00, the LeapTV is perhaps a little pricey for a children’s toy, but it’s what you get out of it.  If you take the time to learn the games and the functions with the child, they will get more out of it.

LeapTV will assist child with motor skills and you will find games that will make them think as well.  For those who are living in apartments, the LeapTV is designed to get the kids moving and games such as Dance Party and Game Sports will live up to that promise.

Now we would say this, but we are not alone.  We are predicting that LeapTV will be the hottest toy in 2014 for 3 to 8 year olds and we expect that supply will be short supply.