Reviewed by David Savage
The LeapFrog Epic is a children’s learning tablet that encourages a child to Explore, Play, Imagine and Create.
The LeapFrog Epic is an Android based tablet (OS 4.4) with a 7” colour screen (with a resolution of 1024×600), 16GB memory (can be expanded to 32GB with a Micro SD card), a 1.3Ghz Quad-Core processor, Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2MP front and rear camera and a 6 hour battery life. It comes supplied with a USB cable (so you can plug into you PC if needed) and a mains charger. That all sounds great but giving a young child a tablet will almost certainly see it dropped, thrown and broken very quickly so LeapFrog has added a thick rubberised cover around the edge of the tablet making it much more resistant to drops and falls and also makes it much easier for small toddler hands to grip and hold. Attached to the cover is a stylus which slides into the cover for easy, unobtrusive storage.
Setup is easy and a parent account is created to control what apps and access rights different age children have so you can have age appropriate content for your children even if different ages.
Once setup is complete and all the applications downloaded the children have access to the 20 apps that are included (more can be purchased from LeapFrog online) from ABC songs to creative art packages and games as well as an interactive home screen where they can choose their world and customize with people, vehicles, animals, weather and displays the time of day in real time so the home page is a constantly moving world that goes through day and night.
While it is an Android based tablet the software is designed to only give age appropriate apps and videos for children and they cannot download or have to purchase anything else without the parent/carer entering the unlock code, so all very safe and child friendly.
What I like is that the apps grow with the child, so while can be used from age 3 apps will be age appropriate and grow with the child so something that a 3 year old will use may become more advanced for a 7 year old and all apps are educator approved.
As I was using it with 3 year old twin boys, what did they think of it? Well as it has been very difficult to get it off them to actually do the review I would say they love it! They are both finding their way around it without any help from me and while they have their favourite apps (both love Art Studio Ultra where they can create their own pictures with a variety of drawing and colouring tools or with the use of “stickers” and they can even edit photos. They have even found videos of their favourite film and television shows (Frozen, Peppa Pig etc…).
And what do I think of it? Well it’s extremely easy for them to use as they find their way around very easy and manage to swipe their way around through the apps and customise the home screen, this in itself is something they enjoy doing. As an entertainment toy it is excellent, plenty of games and apps to keep them entertained. As an educational tool it is excellent! It has plenty of educational apps that teach letters, numbers, words etc. all in a fun way (some using one of their favourite characters; LeapFrog’s own Scout), although the apps supplied are in an American accent (that said it doesn’t bother them).
The kidsafe web is excellent, it gives access to pre-approved age-appropriate videos from YouTube and they can only see anything that has been approved. You can even add safe website addresses to the LeapSearch settings; so for example you could their school website address if they needed access to homework assignments etc…
The Parent Controls are excellent; you can manage the device, children’s logins, users, manage apps and which users can use them, and one of my favourite controls is that you can manage time and usage – for example you can set usage time so can be set to use for a set number of hours per day and can set the times it can be played between (so if set at bedtime it cannot be used after this time). You can even control the times spent playing different content; so if you wanted use to primarily for educational use you can set this can the playing times of just for games, for example, to 15 minutes per day while having Learning Games as 2 hours etc… You can even customise these options for weekday and weekend use! In Parent mode you even have proper access to the internet. I think these options are a brilliant idea.
Now with 3 year olds the Epic really needs to stand up to toddlers attention and so far it has stood up to everything they have put it through; it has been pulled, dropped down the stairs, walked over and is still all in one piece! The rubber cover has done an excellent job of protecting when dropped. The only thing I would recommend would be getting some screen protectors to protect against scratches as they did get a small scratch on the screen from using the wrong end of the stylus.
Overall this is an excellent piece of equipment that children can use for fun, entertainment and education all while giving parent’s piece of mind that all content is safe and age appropriate and the children cannot access anything untoward. Parents can control access to apps for each user giving complete control over who can use each app. It is easy to use, easy for a toddler to hold without being too heavy.
The battery lasts around 6 hours but has some battery saving features like turning the screen off after 2 minutes of inactivity – this is extremely useful as the boys put the tablet down to go off and do something else.
We haven’t yet made a purchase of any apps from LeapFrog’s App Centre as there is still so much they are playing with and don’t require anything else yet. Should you need to purchase other apps this is done in Parent mode and start from around £2 per app.
We love the Epic. It is a quality, robust and durable tablet that is standing up to toddlers play. It is fun and educational, content safe and grows with the children giving them a complete interactive experience to compliment play and learning time.
The only very small issue we have come across is that to turn it on you have to press and hold the power button and both boys don’t always hold the button long enough, but that is something that the more they use it the more they will get used to it. So depending on the age of your child be prepared to keep being asked to turn it on
Well done LeapFrog, another quality product with children’s education at the forefront!
The LeapFrog Epic is suitable for children aged 3-9 years old.
Available to buy from the LeapFrog store here.