Ask any parent and they will most likely put “playing games in front of the TV”, or even with a tablet, at the bottom of their list. But what if you could get kids learn while they’re playing, and keep on moving while they’re playing? This is the kind of thinking that led LeapFrog, who specializes in all kinds of electronics for kids, to develop LeapTV, a video game console, you can’t really call it a “box”, that is designed to get kids’ bodies and minds moving.
At first glance, the LeapTV’s main component looks like an alien spaceship, which immediately betrays the nature of this console. While it does look somewhat stylish, its bright colors and odd shape makes it more interesting for children than for adults. The middle of the LeapTV has a slot for pushing in a cartridge. Yes, they use cartridges, at least for some of the content. There are also apps and games available for purchase online, of course.
The main attraction of the LeapTV, however, will probably be the way children will interact with their games. There are three ways they can play, taking inspiration from major game consoles in the market. First, they can use their bodies, as the LeapTV includes a motion sensing camera, and an accompanying camera stand, much like the Microsoft Kinect. There is also a controller, which follows the LeapTV’s eccentricity in design. It sports a rather odd V-shape instead of your usual gamepad form. While there are indeed buttons on this contraption, the wireless controller also houses motion sensors so kids can twist and turn them like they were really driving a bicycle, for example. Last and definitely not the least, the controller unfolds into a wand, or a pointer as LeapFrog calls it. In this mode it resembles the Wiimote and behaves the same way too, using both motion and buttons to emulate swinging of hands or swords. Fortunately, LeapFrog also included a strap, to keep the pointer from flying away when in use.
But this hardware would be of no use, at least not to kids or their parents, without the appropriate content. In this area, LeapFrog doesn’t disappointing, boasting of more than a hundred games and learning material in its library, curated and rated for kids ages three to eight. These games, according to LeapFrog, addresses 2,600 skills like reading, math, science, creativity, and more that can be utilized in educating a child.
Now that LeapFrog has your, and your child’s, undivided attention, we can talk about price and availability. The LeapTV system won’t cost as much as a high-end smartphone or tablet, presuming you buy those off contract, as it only has a $149.99 price tag. However, that is only the cost of the console itself. Cartridges will cost you an additional $29.99 and downloadable content start at $5 and above. All of these will become available online and in major retail outlets starting the holiday season this year.