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Toy Review: LeapPad 3 Learning Tablet

We've been LeapFrog fans for as long as my kids have been babies. We love their focus on quality, educational games and toys that encourage fun with a splash of age-appropriate learning. And LeapFrog is doing it again with their latest tablet alternative, the LeapPad3 Learning Tablet, that has my 5-year-old daughter begging for more screen time.

If you ask her, the best part of the LeapPad3 is the ability to independently maneuver the tablet and applications. Its size is perfect for small hands and rugged enough for them too (although I recommend getting a protective case). My daughter is a pre-reader, but the LeapPad3's intuitiveness and use of picture labels make it easy for her to navigate, which she loves.

But what do I think about LeapFrog's latest tablet alternative? Here are a few key features to know before you invest in the LeapPad3.

Features I Love

A few features of the LeapPad3 make this tablet an exceptional experience; the first being important for busy moms: easy set-up. With just a few prompts, a parent is able to register the child's age, pick a free learning app and make decisions on WiFi capabilities. The fact that this entire process took less than 5 minutes is essential for eager preschoolers and their moms.

The ability to create multiple user profiles makes this tablet perfect for kids of varying ages in the same family. Not that my kids actually share this tablet! In the off chance my 3-year-old gets his hands on the device, his profile is set up with his age, reading level and app preferences.

New on the LeapPad3 is LeapSearch, safe internet browsing for kids better than any tablet I've experience thus far. For pre-readers, the search browser is set up with pictures for content categories making videos, books and other kid-focused material accessible for most reading levels. This makes for more efficient independent play! If you aren't into your child browsing the Internet, adjusting wifi capabilities is just a few clicks away.

Educational focus on everything! Songs are geared towards reading comprehension, games explore math and science concepts and even topic-focused apps engage various educational goals. My daughter loves animals, dogs especially, and while her favorite games involve them, they also encourage her to use fine motor skills with the included stylus pen, reading comprehension, even practice empathy and responsibility.

Features I'm Not Crazy About

The LeapPab3 comes with a free app, but get ready to spend upwards of $20 for additional ones. Because of this investment, I don't encourage my daughter to browse aimlessly for apps. They're expensive! I was familiar with this expense from our experience with the older LeapPad models, but man, those price tags are hard to get used to. The flip side, though, is that all apps are not created equal and you can be sure a LeapFrog app will be a true educational game.

The LeapPad3 has a front and rear camera, just like older versions of the tablet, but the quality continues to be subpar. This is to be expected, I suppose, as it's a kid's tablet after all, but consider indoor (or otherwise low light) photos a lost cause.

Would I buy this as a gift?

Absolutely! The LeapPad3 gives our tech savvy kids a safe and educational tablet to enjoy. With jovial tunes, kid-friendly internet browsing and focus on reading comprehension, LeapFrog's latest tablet alternative encourages quality, high-tech play. Also, since it's designed for kids aged 3-9 and is personalized for each user, the LeapPad3 is gift that will grow with the child and family.

At $99.99, the LeapPad3 is also a respectable price point for many gift-giving needs. The tablet comes in green, pink and has fun accessories to choose from, too.

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