I was excited about the Leapster 2 in the hopes that it would help to make long car rides and Doctor office wait times a little more educational and a little less frustrating for all involved. I am glad to report that it has accomplished exactly that!
Assembly Time: It took me about 15 minutes to hook it up to the computer and download the first game. It will ask you to enter the child’s name so that they will have a profile. You do not have to enter a guest profile as that is automatically loaded. You can name additional profiles for multiple children.
Value for Money: I was unsure if I would like this product, but as it turns out I really do. I do still have a bit of ambivalence about the price.
The games are right on target for educational purposes and I think the three games that I have looked at are well developed. I am sure my ambivalence comes in at the price, because I am at heart a bargain shopper, and although you may find them on sale occasionally, it will not be a huge discount. They can be bought much cheaper second hand on Amazon.
The handheld gamer costs around $50 and comes with 1 free downloaded game. Additional game cartridges for the machine run around $20.
I also feel that the graphic quality could be a little bit better, however that is the geek in me coming out and can admit that the graphics are adequate. There are some things things on the Tinker Bell game that I find really difficult to see, even with my glasses on.
That being said, my 3 year old took to it like a fish to water. Price wise, I wonder if it would have been better to buy her an iTouch and download cheap apps for her. I have downloaded several free apps to our iPhone that I feel have great educational value and I am amazed at how this little tiny child finds it so easy to manipulate the iPhone. I guess that is a review for another day! The big downfall with my iIouch idea is the breakability factor. Trusting that my 3 year old will not drop and crush an iTouch is a big leap of faith.
The Leapster 2 one the other hand is very sturdy and is much less likely to be damaged.
I would also like to get my hands on the newer Leapster Explorer to see what additional features it has. The Leapster 2 and Explorer cartridges are not compatible. The original Leapster and Leapster 2 cartridges are compatible.
Oh yes, and there is a charger too. It will cost you another $30 otherwise a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries may be the more cost effective way to go.
Age Appropriateness: The Box says ages 4-7, although as I mentioned my 3 year old was able to do it. There is a hint button so if the child gets stuck they can get some guidance.
Durability: It is a plastic construction and seems pretty durable. I do suggest you either buy the case for it or make up some sort of bag to put it in, as we have already scratched the screen from dropping it uncovered into whatever bag we happened to be carrying out. We now keep ours in a little cloth purse with the game cartridges in an outside pocket to prevent more scratching. The Leapster Carrying Case costs around $12 to $15 as well.
Educational Value: The games are very well developed and clearly meet educational guidelines for Pre-k through 1st grade. I mentioned earlier that there are lots of built in ways to get hints if the child runs into anything that may be a little above her/his abilities, allowing room for growth and learning.
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