LeapFrog moves into tablets for kids with LeapPad

Faced with tough competition from Apple, LeapFrog Enterprises is defending its turf in children’s learning devices with the launch of a tablet for children called LeapPad.

The device shows that Emeryville, Calif.-based LeapFrog is accelerating its efforts to remain relevant to kids in the age of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Kids love those devices, but LeapFrog’s device is tailored just for the needs of kids. If the features are right, then LeapFrog will hold on to the niche in learning devices for kids that it pioneered.

Targeted at children 4 and up, the new tablet will have more than 100 learning games and apps as well as an on-board camera and video recorder. LeapFrog is combining technology, an enhanced educational curriculum, and entertaining characters to keep kids engaged with its tablet. The look of the tablet mirrors that of adult-oriented tablets, but it is designed for little hands.

The LeapPad will be available for pre-sale today for $99. The library will have more than 100 titles includes game cartridges, books, apps and videos by the end of the year. The games are designed to auto-adjust their difficulty levels so that kids can learn at the right pace. Each LeapPad book app is three books in one, with a story at three different levels. LeapPad will remember a child’s progress from game to game and book to book to keep the content at a challenging and engaging level.

“We wanted LeapPad to offer kids the ability to create their own personalized experiences and have fun while learning at their own pace with content that automatically adjusts to their skill level,” said Craig Hendrickson, senior vice president and chief product officer for LeapFrog. “LeapPad’s apps inspire kids to explore their inner creativity. Whether doodling on photos taken with the built-in camera, creating a story about themselves in the Story Studio, or bringing their favorite characters to life with the Animation Studio, there is truly something for every child.”

The games tackle phonics skills, mathematics and spelling. They also expand beyond the basics to geography, world languages, music, creativity, science and life skills such as brushing their teeth. Some of these apps are familiar to youngsters who viewed them with the launch of the Leapster Explorer handheld touchscreen gaming system, which debuted last July.

The device has 2 gigabytes of memory and a touchscreen that responds to a stylus or finger touch. It has a camera, video recorder, microphone, and apps that focus on art, story, and photos. It has a built-in motion sensor and a 5-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 480 x 272.

Kids can stamp or draw on their pictures to create personalized snapshots. The LeapPad Animation Studio app teaches children how to animate Disney characters. With Story Studio, kids can create their own stories using more than 27,000 story combinations. The app allows parents to share the kids’ creations on email or Facebook. The apps are priced at $5 and game cartridges cost $24.99. It comes in green and pink colors. It will be available at retail locations on Aug. 15.

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