Searching for your child’s first tablet is rapidly becoming tricky. There’s an increasing number of options out there and it’s not simple to select from them; but if you wish to keep those little, grubby mitts off your expensive and quite breakable iPad, you better choose one soon. The Android-based LeapFrog Epic ($140) may be the latest entrant in one of the largest names in educational toys, and it has plenty to recommend it. Created for kids between your ages of three and nine, it comes pre-loaded with fantastic age-appropriate software and comprehensive parental controls.

My three year-old daughter and six year-old son just spent weekly using it, and gave a resounding thumbs up when asked, nonetheless it wasn’t all plain-sailing. So, if the LeapFrog Epic hop on your shopping list? Let’s have a closer look.

Created to withstand kids
It’s not unusual for kids, especially small children, to destroy electronics, so a dedicated tablet for children really should be tough. The LeapFrog Epic doesn’t disappoint. Encased in a chunky bright green or pink rubber bumper, the LeapFrog Epic is well-protected out of your box. The bumper is removable when older kids don’t require it, and the exposed tablet underneath has rounded edges and huge bezels.

Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

The tablet includes a 7-inch screen, but overall it’s just a little bigger than regular models with similar sized displays. The trunk is perforated white plastic, and that’s where you’ll find the key camera and the speaker. All of the controls and ports are located up top if you’re holding the tablet in landscape view. There are simple to press power and volume controls, a recessed micro-USB port for charging, and a headphone jack. There’s also a stylus that’s mounted on your body by a cord, which slots neatly away in underneath left corner when it’s unnecessary.

My six year-old son is employed to tablets and took to the LeapFrog Epic quickly. My three year-old daughter hasn’t had as enough time with them, but she evidently found the Epic much better to hold than our old Nexus 7 or the iPad Air. She also loved the stylus and used it at every opportunity, even gripping about it tightly when it came time to place the tablet away for your day, in the hope of keeping it for some time longer.

Software suitable for kids
The LeapFrog Epic runs Android 4.4 KitKat beneath the specially-designed interface. You get occasional glimpses of it, when you swipe down from the most notable and start to see the standard notification shade for instance, but otherwise it’s heavily modified. For once it doesn’t matter, for the reason that software may be the LeapFrog Epic’s main strength. Setup is a breeze. You enter your kid’s names and ages and it creates a profile for them, then automatically tailors the available programs and activities with their ages. You’ll want thirty minutes or so to create profiles, charge the slate, and download content; but it’s ready for your kids to take pleasure from.

The Epic is a fantastic kid-focused entertainment hub with strong educational elements

Each young one has their own house screen, which is similar to a little town they are able to customize. Tapping on houses and vehicles changes the colors, there are numerous stickers to include, and tapping on other objects will launch specific games or apps. They are able to also setup shortcuts for six of a common programs to sit permanently in the bottom of the screen, and there’s a tiny arrow icon that opens up the Android software drawer. Both my kids enjoyed customizing their towns, plus they are a genuinely fun option to a normal home screen.

In conditions of programs and games you bypass 20 pre-installed, and there’s a different set for each and every generation. Basic staples such as a calendar with environment information, a calculator, camera, and gallery are installed, joined by art packages, educational apps, and fun games. There’s also music and video, a child-safe browser, and a good cute customizable pet that lives in its house.

The stuff that will there be is good. My son loved the Story Spinner, which prompts you to sing a song, make an animal sound, or pick a noun, then records everything to fill in elements of a tale played back towards the end. My daughter particularly loved the funny filters for the camera and the training Friends adventures, which feature different sorting games.

Unfortunately, a number of of the pre-installed options are simply demos. My son got really worked up about Captain Plasma’s Adventure, which can be an educational game in which a miniaturized ship travels around in the human body, however the demo was not a lot of. We visited the built-in LeapFrog iphone app store and discovered that the entire version costs a hefty $10. That’s expensive for an individual mobile game, nonetheless it gets worse. The branded options, just like the Disney Frozen Learning Game, can cost $20, and bundled packs of educational adventures are up to $40. Piecing together a decent package of content for your son or daughter could get very costly, very quickly.

The software may be the LeapFrog Epic’s main strength

However, you get everything you pay for, and the grade of the software and games is great. They are always befitting the prospective age and beautifully designed, but if you’re used to paying up to handful of dollars for a casino game your child would like, there’s no getting across the fact these prices will be an unwelcome surprise.

Thankfully, you aren’t completely locked in to the LeapFrog store, it’s possible to set up the Amazon App Store. You’ll need to jump through a few hoops to sideload it, nonetheless it allows you to include software like Netflix and a bunch of free and more affordable games, making the Epic a more attractive prospect.

The LeapFrog Epic also offers a great group of built-in parental controls, accessible once you enter your PIN. They let you set time limits, and provide fine-grained control over what apps, games, sites, and other content each child’s profile can access. If you’re interested, it’s possible to examine a break down of how they spent their time on these devices.

It’s just a little slow and basic
Because kids are more forgiving, doesn’t mean manufacturers should palm them off with sub-standard hardware. Unfortunately, that’s accurately what LeapFrog did here. The 7-inch screen includes a seriously underwhelming resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. The viewing angles are also poor, which means you need to be square-on to have a nice picture, which is significantly less than ideal when kids want to play together.

Simon Hill/Digital Trends
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

The processor is quad-core, clocked at 1.3 GHz and there’s 1GB of RAM, nonetheless it frequently stalls and lags as you navigate around, prompting the youngsters (who are being used to faster hardware) to repeatedly tap the screen impatiently. This resulted in more problems, because all of the tapping would often wrap up accidentally launching an iphone app when the screen finally loaded.

The storage options are good, with 16GB onboard and a Micro Sdcard slot that may add a supplementary 32GB. That’s plenty for children, but on the edge for adults who would like plenty of space for media. The Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth posed no problems.

Camera from days gone by
There are front and rear cameras on the LeapFrog Epic, nonetheless they both have only two measly megapixels, and they’re fixed focus. Low light photographs are shockingly bad, and kids being kids means motion blur is common. It’s a genuine shame because both my kids enjoyed using the camera and the silly filters.

You don’t be prepared to find an incredible camera on a kid’s tablet, but almost all of the photographs they took with these cameras proved pretty bad. With steady hands and the proper lighting the email address details are passable, but that’s not likely to happen frequently when it’s in the hands of Epic’s market.

Average battery life
The battery life of the LeapFrog Epic is reasonable. The specs say six hours or even more, and we discovered that was about right. How close it had been depended on what software and games were used, and how loud they crank the quantity. Sometimes it could drop only four or five. Typically, the Epic would last a few days roughly between charges, when play was limited by two hours maximum a day each, though they rarely hit that limit.

Why pay more?
The most common price for the LeapFrog Epic is $140. During writing, Amazon and Walmart both own it on sale at $128. Initially that’s good value, if you wish a kid-safe tablet with some suitable educational and entertainment content, and minimum setup overhead.

The difficulty is that Amazon offers the Fire Kids Edition with a 7-inch display for $100 and it’s almost specifically the same hardware. Amazon also boasts a fantastic group of parental controls, a two-year no-questions-asked replacement guarantee, and usage of the Amazon App Store out of your box.

Warranty information
There’s a standard twelve months warrantee with the LeapFrog Epic that will cover faults, nonetheless it excludes accidental damage, so if it gets dunked in water or a major crack along the screen, you’ll probably need to purchase a repair. If you buy directly from the LeapFrog website, you get yourself a “Kid-Proof” warranty, {whic