Top critical review
Buy the old version on EBAY because it's vastly superior to this new model!
June 19, 2017
Save your money and buy the old version on EBAY! I always read Amazon reviews before I purchase items, unless I am making a repeat purchase. When I bought this Leap Frog "My Own Leaptop" in June, 2017, I realized it was a newer version than the one I purchased in 2012, but I figured they would have simply made improvements upon the old model. Wow was I mistaken! I should have read the recent reviews by parents like myself who know how fantastic the old version of this toy is and how the new version pales in comparison. Don't waste your money on a new one. For the same price or less you can buy a vastly superior, used old version on EBAY (see what the old version looks like in my review photos). This is what I did and I will be returning the new model. We debated saving the $6 in return shipping cost to give the new version we bought to someone else as a gift, but decided we cannot in good conscience give an inferior toy to a friend. The old version requires that you download LeapFrog Connect software and connect the Leaptop to your computer. To do this you must have the LeapFrog "My Own Leaptop" USB connector cable (see last photo), internet access, a USB port, and Adobe Flash software (an easy, free download that the LeapFrog software prompts you to download if you don't have it). I still had my cable from the Leaptop I purchased five years ago so I didn't need to make sure the used one I purchased from EBAY had it. I bought the used leaptop shown in the photos for $8 with free shipping and no cable. It arrived today and with new batteries and my old cable I was able to reprogram each of the customizable features and now it's perfect! Below is a comparison of the personalized features of the old version and comparable features of the new version.
- Upon turning it on it says, "Hi [says your child's name]!"
- You can select one "sing along" song, and five melody songs for it to play, and it also plays a song spelling out your child's name
- When you push the "blog" button, it reads a blog entry and then asks your child [by name] about their day
- You can personalize three "email" messages by selecting text from a dropdown menu (you cannot type your own message) and entering the sender (e.g., "Grandma" or "Betsy"). The result is an interaction like this:
"You have an email from Mommy [or whomever you program in]. Let's read it! Dear [says your child's name], I love you so much [the message I chose]. Love, Mommy. Let's reply! Dear Mommy, I love you too. Love, [says your child's name]". So it simply reads an auto-generated "reply" and says it is from your child, rather than prompting them to "type a reply." The Leaptop also periodically prompts your child to push the email button, by asking, "Have you checked your email?"
- In the alphabet mode when your child pushes the first letter of their name it will switch between one of two results. One result is this announcement: "[First it names the letter.] That's the first letter of your name [says child's name]. Let's celebrate your letter! [Then it plays a fun little jingle.]" The second result is an announcement naming the letter, saying what sound it makes, naming the letter again and saying an animal that starts with that letter.
- Upon turning it on it says, "Hi."
- You cannot select songs. You get what it comes with.
- There are no blog entries.
- When you select the "Messages" setting it literally says something like this:
"I have a message for you. Message: I spent all day... What's your favorite [game/place]?"
or "You have an email from me. Let's read it. Hi. Writing emails to you makes me happy. Love, [Scout or Violet, depending on whether you have the boy or girl version] Let's reply. Push the letter buttons to write your reply, then push the paw pad." When you do as instructed it says out loud each letter you push, and then says, "Well done," but that's it. So you could push, "JWZL," for example, and push the paw pad and that would be your email. It doesn't read the reply you type (which makes sense since most children will push letters randomly).
- There are no blog entries.
- In the alphabet mode when your child pushes the first letter of their name it will switch between one of two results. One result is this announcement: "[First it names the letter.] That's the first letter of your name [it shows child's name on screen, but does not say it]. Let's spell it! [Then it spells your child's name.]" The second result is an announcement naming the letter, saying what sound it makes, naming the letter again and saying an animal that starts with that letter.
We gave the Leaptop we purchased in 2012 to our son when he was 18 months old. He is now 6 and he still loves to play with it. Our daughter who is about to turn 3 enjoys playing with her brother's Leaptop so much we finally decided we should get her one of her own (hence our purchase and return of a new version on Amazon, and a satisfying purchase of a used old version on EBAY). Reasons why we like the old version follow. Both of our children really like singing and dancing to the music and playing at receiving and writing emails. They also get very excited about the blog entries. Neither one of them has ever been too enamored by the facts about animals (although they both are very interested in animals in general), with the exception of a few favorites. I do think the letter sounds have been valuable from an education standpoint for both of our children. The main reason our children, and in turn we ourselves, like the old version of this toy so much is because it engages them directly by name so frequently through the alphabet, music, email and blog modes. The new version simply acknowledges the first letter of their name and the spelling of their name, but never actually says their name. This makes it so much less personally engaging and since younger children do not always know how to spell their names, the new version may as well not be personalized at all for them since it never actually states their name. We brought our 2012 Leaptop every time we traveled with our son from about age 18 months to 3 years. His interest waned enough after that that we no longer brought it on travels, but it remains a much beloved toy for home use to this day. We are extremely confident that the used old version of the Leaptop we just bought our daughter is sure to be her new favorite toy.
I hope this review is helpful to parents considering buying a Leaptop. I cannot recommend the old version enough and I'm grateful there are people selling quite a few of them on EBAY. Just keep in mind to look for one that indicates it has been tested and is in good working order, and that it includes the cable if you don't have one already.