Monday, November 17, 2008

Toy Review
The Quantum Pad (Or LeapPad)

The Quantum Pad was probably one of the neatest educational toys I have ever purchased. It functions basically the same as the My First LeapPads--except it uses paper (not board) books and the books lay on the unit (not clip into it). Books and cartridges for the Quantum Pad and the LeapPad systems are interchangeable. The only difference in the systems is that the Quantum Pad looks a little sleeker and might appeal to the older kids.

The Quantum Pad is for older children, but a preschooler would have no problem if he used it with supervision. Just be careful when they turn the pages. Once a page is ripped out of the spiral, it is kind of impossible to get it to stay in and it messes up that whole series of pages. Ask me how I know.

Like the other LeapPads, the Quantum Pad books have little green go circles that you touch with the wand each time you turn the page. This orients the unit as to which page you are on. Then you point to things to hear them spoken.

The unit can fold closed with a book inside, thus protecting it and making it super easy to cart along to the four corners of the earth. It is wonderful for trips and waiting rooms!

It also has an earphone jack to protect your last nerve.

The range of books is pretty good. We have some books for preschool and early reader ages, as well as books to challenge and help my older (9 and 11) kids study subject matter.

For my 4 year old, there are phonics books and easy readers, as well as some math and vocabulary building selections. Among the choices, of course, you'll find popular children's characters, too.

The story books have speech bubbles at the beginning of page that a child can touch to have the story read out loud to them. They also have tons of touch and hear objects with silly sound effects. PLUS, they have lots of games to play by touching the various game icons on the bottom of each page. They tuck in such skills as story comprehension, Character comprehension, vocabulary, colors, numbers, counting, etc. The games are a lot of fun!

One of our favorite finds was this double book set with a microphone. I have to admit, I was pretty sceptical of it, but since they were marked way down at Value City last year, I decided to give it a try. The Amazing Big Top Letter Circus was awesome and quickly became a favorite of the whole family. It works just like the other books and cartridges, except the cartridge has a microphone on it.

My first picture at the top of this post shows the C page of the Big Top Letter Circus. When you touch the red circles, one of the characters will ask your child to speak a sound. The cartridge then stores these sound bites and plays them back here and there as you read through the book. It is TOTALLY fun! The big boys love this feature! However, their sounds are rarely appropriate. Big surprise. :) Anyway, if you ever have the chance to snag this set of books, DO it. You won't be sorry. It's very well done!

If you are wondering about how the cartridge works for two books, I think it's magic! Probably, though, it has to do with where the green go circles are located. But it DOES work with both books, and you can record things on each.

Then, there are books for big kids. There are topical books, as well as skills sets for specific grades. Do my older boys use these? They did for a while, but not so much anymore. They only sit down with them if I want them to practice a certain skill. That said, we've used the United States page often to practice states and capitals, and the human body one is pretty cool. Dinosaurs are always attention grabbing, and the geography one is my favorite. Where was this when I was growing up?? Guess I'll just have to play with it now. . .

But still, I find that the biggest enthusiast is still my little guy. He loves to explore all the pages whether he is ready for the content or not.
Finally, there are story books for this age, as well. We have several of the Magic Tree House books. Again, they work the same as the other books. You can read on your own and touch only the words you are not sure of, just explore the pictures on each page, or touch a speech bubble and have the whole page read to you.

On the whole, I can't say enough good things about the Quantum Pad. I have THREE of them, plus a LeapPad, but probably only needed to buy one and let the kids share. However, when you buy lots on Ebay with big bundles of books, the extra systems don't hurt. I've since sold several at yard sales along with a few duplicate books and made a nice little sum.

Oh, yes! Did I mention batteries? These game systems do NOT go through batteries. One set will last forever--or until they leak anyway. But the system actually tells you when it is time to change the batteries. That's just plain nice.

Amazon lists them for $89.97 with books ranging from $4.99-39.99. But I've also done searches on Amazon that have yielded a listing for $99.97. I don't know what to make of this!! I definitely would NOT pay this much for it.

Walmart has it on clearance from $39.98 down to $30.00, but says it is not sold on line. So I'm guessing the supplies are limited, and the books probably will be too.

Probably the best place to pick up the most goodies would be on Ebay. I just did a quick search of completed items on Ebay, and the Quantum Pads and their books are going really cheap! This probably cycles, but at least for the moment, you may be able to snag a really good deal on a unit and some books. As I said, I picked up several lots here. One Quantum Pad was defective on arrival, but Leap Frog was very good about it and replaced the unit free. All I had to do was pay the shipping, which I was able to negotiate with the seller to have refunded.

Also, keep your eyes open at the Goodwill, and Once Upon a Child for some great deals--and let me know what you find!

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