Laura Loves - Leap TV

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Laura Loves - Leap TV
Iíve always erred on the side of caution when it comes to games consoles for children.

In such a technological world I, like many other parents, worry that once theyíre under the spell of technology that the kids will be sucked in forever.

Bearing that in mind, other than the monitored games on the iPad and similar phonics devices we have stayed away from gaming systems. This is until LeapFrog asked me to review Leap TV.

LeapTV

LeapTV launched at the end of last year and is a new addition to LeapFrogís family of educational toys.

In essence LeapTV is a video gaming system aimed at toddlers right up to about eight years that uses 'kinect'-style technology (similar to Xbox 360 and wii!). Itís targeting a previously niche group that are after the benefits of a gaming system but without the adult nature (fighting, speeding etc).

Setting Up

The system itself is very small, and I was surprised to see the console is no larger than a small bowl with a motion sensor piece that looks similar to a webcam. It connects to your TV through a USB adaptor and following some simple instructions youíre good to go in ten less than ten minutes!

Controls

This is where I thought my kids would struggle. However, the console can be controlled in a range of ways Ė body motion, pointer play and more of a classic control. Body motion, as the name suggests, is easier for the younger ones as they donít need to hold onto anything and itís more of a synchronised process as they dance and wave their arms around. Think of a wii thatís perfect for kids!

The controller, particularly in pointer mode, is fine for all ages too. Itís just that if Iím being picky, with Grace at the bottom end of the age scale I can see that an improved coordination would make it easier and that naturally comes with age.

The handset doesnít come with batteries so be sure to get some in beforehand to save disappointment.

Games

On the gaming front, there are currently over 100 games to choose from with even more downloads and videos from LeapFrogís online app store. Impressively every singe one of these has a strong learning element, even if itís not immediately apparent. Behind the scenes Iím told that t thereís a specialist team of experts that all have a minimum of PhD qualification and work on the games enhancing them with no fewer than 2,600 learning and skills aimed at 3 to 8 year olds.

Games arenít just LeapFrog branded and there are many familiar characters, such as Toy Story, Spiderman and Sofia the First, one of the games we tested.

The games will set you back about £25 each and there are further downloads available from the LeapFrog App store starting from about £3.50 which enables you to keep updating and entertaining kids that love to flit onto the latest trend.
Dance and Learn - Leapforg

Dance & Learn

Introducing LeapTV to Grace (aged three) was interesting. She was so excited as we set it up and then we started with the Dance & Learn game. For first go of any of the games it takes a little bit of loading up the settings and navigating your way around. I would definitely recommend parent supervision to get them started as there are a lot of choices and you need to link up their body with the sensor.

For Dance and Learn, itís quite a skill as it combines activities and tasks with movement. Thereís a certain level of coordination involved, however the interface is very intuitive and it monitors progress and adapts to the level of the user.

We both also found it easy to use and despite a couple of frustrations from Grace, she got the hang of it pretty quickly as she moved throughout the stages building confidence by dancing and waving her arms to follow instructions.

I really liked the functionality and careful crafting of LeapTV. You cant help but feel that a considerable amount of time has gone into its development, not just on the education front but the look and feel of the system through to the objectives of the games to be able to entertain children in a really unique way. Spanning such a broad age can be quite a challenge but for younger children it has covered off a lot of my concerns. For me I liked that it doesnít need handholding and features audio instructions. However the games are where it really excels, there is such a wide choice and it allows the children to feel as if theyíre gaming yet parents can rest assured that theyíre also learning in a new and exciting way. Itís a nice foray into the technological world we live in without exposing too much of the gaming world and often the addictiveness that goes with it while keeping kids active and on the move indoors.

The LeapTV system includes console, motion-sensing camera, camera mount, transforming controller with wrist strap, HDMI cable, 16GB of memory and built-in Wi-Fi which enables app downloads (sold separately).

LeapTV is priced £119.99. For more information visit www.leapfrog.com/en-gb/products/leaptv

by
Mum to 2 Under 3 and just finished maternity leave, Laura is a journalist and Mum. She enjoys reviewing products with her children, exploring new trends and more importantly, life as a mummy. 'Continuously trying to get a Ďgripí of motherhood and back to a size 10!'

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