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LeapPad Skipped – I Got My Son An iPod Touch: Here’s Why

Man I was so excited to get my son the LeapFrog LeapPad and then…I decided to skip it. It’s advertised as an iPad for your kid and with a 5” screen, camera and accelerometer I thought it had that type of potential. Then I saw this hands on video from Engadget:

What happened there? Watch the clock and see how long it takes from hitting the camera icon to launching the camera app, and that just gets you to the camera launching app and there’s another press to get to the actual camera. For those who want the answer, it’s 12 seconds to go from home screen to the camera/picture app and 6 additional seconds after hitting the camera icon and it to open. Now my son isn’t as impatient as me but it made me dig deeper to explain the huge lag and the answer is seemingly simple. The things running a 400mhz CPU. And that 5” display is resistive, meaning that it takes pressure to react. That’s great to use with a pen but less sensitive to touch and may be frustrating for kids. And I’m not sure what the camera quality is, but in the images it looks like it’s floating somewhere around 2005. And remember that this package comes with AA batteries. So, what was the alternative?

I fired up the old Craigslist and within a few hours I had an iPod Touch 4th generation (8gb) for $150 in hand. I know, that’s $150 (used) compared to $100 (new). But the titles for the LeapPad were $7.50 a pop and that includes LeapFrog videos and some of the games on their site look like straight ports of their older games without increased resolution. It looked like Atari. By going iPod I can get games that range from free to $3 or so and there are well over the 100 titles the LeapPad has (apparently it has 700 toddler apps) and I can move my movies right onto it from my PC to the iPod. I figured doing straight math with 10 titles I’d be ahead of the game with a $150 iPod. Add to that the niceties of WiFi and that works wonders with Netflix. Of course the camera on the iPod is great and it has a front and rear facing camera and I can take images and email them off the iPod over Wifi. The screen is a retina display. The one downside is the size. I’d prefer a 5” screen but it’s super sharp, fits well in my son’s hands and yes, I have a capacitive pen on order from Amazon for $10 so he’ll be able to practice writing on it. We all know the battery life is great on it and it can do a million things that he’ll never need to. 

So yes, that means I have an iDevice in my house but by getting it second hand at least I didn’t put money right into Steve’s pocket. Overall though I think it’s the right call. Oh and the LeapPad is still almost two months off on top of everything.

Anyway, the worst part about it is that iTunes is not great for finding the best apps. Too much clutter and no trials and it’s sort of hit or miss. So anyone have any great recommendations for iOS toddler games for a 3 year old that is really into reading and counting and dinos? So far I have about a dozen games loaded – they’re all educational and my son thinks he’s playing games while he enjoys himself learning. It’s downright devious…