Which is the best tablet for children: LeapPad 2 or InnoTab 2? That’s the question many generous parents are scratching their heads over this Christmas, and likely through next year for lucky kids’ birthdays.
Both Leapfrog and VTech released version 2 of their kids’ tablets in the late summer, following a battle royal during Christmas 2011 in which we saw both tablets selling out in December that year. This year it's the same story, with LeapPad 2 slugging it out with InnoTab 2 for the title of best kids' Christmas gift of the year. See also: Tested! Best headphones for kids
Both of these tablets are aimed at children aged 4-9, but we'd reckon on a suitable age range of 3-7 – with iPad, iPad mini or Android tablets taking over from there. Leapfrog has also announced new LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi tablets.
(There are plenty of other tablets for children – many using Google’s Android tablet operating system. These include the Meep, Kurio 7, Nabi 2, and Arnova ChildPad, all reviewed here. See also: Group test: Best tablets for children)
So which is better, VTech InnoTab 2 or Leapfrog LeapPad 2? Update: Now read our LeapPad 3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi reviews.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: look and feel
Both the InnoTab 2 and LeapPad 2 look different to sleek adult tablets and Android kids’ tablets.
The InnoTab is a bit more child-like, with the LeapPad a little more stylish. Most children won’t really care too much about the design but older kids might prefer the more subtle LeapPad 2.
The Innotab is a little bigger than the LeapPad.
The InnoTab 2 comes in three colours: Blue, Pink and Silver. The silver model is limited edition, and in the UK available only through Argos.
The LeapPad 2 is available in Green and Pink. Despite pink being quite rare last year this year it’s possible to find this colour tablet a little cheaper than the green.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: screen
Both tablets boast decent 5-inch screens, so there’s little to differentiate the two tablets on this score.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: camera
The original InnoTab didn’t feature a camera, which put it at a real disadvantage to the first LeapPad. So VTech added a camera to version 2, with a very neat trick.
The InnoTab 2’s camera boasts a rotating ‘self-portrait’ lens so children can switch easily between taking a picture of someone or something else and then themselves – a popular feature of VTech’s Kidizoom camera.
The LeapPad doesn’t have a rotating camera but instead has two camera – front and back facing – for the same effect.
The InnoTab 2’s 1.3-megapixel camera is a dash lower quality than the LeapPad2’s 2-megaixels but it’s ample for what the kids will use it for. And it finally makes the InnoTab a real contender against the LeapPad.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: memory/storage
The InnoTab 2’s internal 2GB memory is up from the original version’s paltry 128MB, and handily can be expanded via its built-in SD card memory reader.
While the LeapPad 2 has twice the capacity (4GB) it lacks this opportunity to add external memory.
4GB capacity should be enough for most kids, but as the tablets feature cameras that take both still and video the extra storage option could come in useful.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: software
Software is all important when choosing a tablet as this is what will be keeping the kids busy while you get to enjoy your iPad or Android tablet!
Both kids’ tablets come with a bunch of software pre-installed.
It’s not all games. Both offer some great educational apps that will make parents feel a little less guilty about little Johnny or Jane spending so much time with tablets instead of good, old-fashioned books.
The InnoTab 2 comes with a software cartridge ‘Read, Play & Create’ featuring three apps: an eBook What’s That Noise, colouring art app Colour & Pop, and augmented reality game Alien Rescue. Also pre-installed: Face Race, a motion-sensitive tightrope-walking games; and Art Studio (which you get as soon as you register the device).
It also comes with two free games tokens. When you install the VTech Learning Lodge Navigator on your computer you can download two of a large range of games, normally priced around £3. This is also where you buy, download and transfer apps and games (from 99p) to your InnoTab.
You can buy cartridges (£19.99) for the InnoTab and also download games and apps from VTech’s Learning Lodge Navigator. At the time of writing there were 130 apps available for the InnoTab, including a bunch of Disney games and a lot of educational Sesame Street downloads.
LeapPad 2 comes with a bunch of apps: Pet Pad, LeapFrog Learning Songs, Cartoon Director, Art Studio and one app of your choice. Ours also came with Roly Poly Picnic and T-Rex Rush that both use the built-in motion-based accelerometer, and an updated Stretchy Monkey, as well as Disney Animation Artist,
You get Cartoon Creativity and Art Studio as soon as you complete online registration. It works with LeapFrog Explorer cartridges (£15- £20) and downloadable apps (sold separately).
Leapfrog offers a large range of 225+ cartridges and downloadable apps.
Search Amazon for the InnoTab and LeapPad games and app cartridges, and take a look at the VTech and Leapfrog sites for available downloads.
Games and apps are more plentiful and cheaper on Android tablets and the Apple iPad, but these devices are usually much more expensive than these two child-optimised tablets.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: batteries
Both tablets use four AA batteries. Battery life, of course, depends on how much its used and which features are employed. For example, apps that require heavy video use will eat up the tablet’s battery faster than a reading app.
We recommend that parents buy rechargeable AA batteries. The Energizer Universal Battery Charger is a good option, and costs around £15 with rechargeable batteries at about £7 for four.
LeapFrog also offers a LeapPad2 Recharger Pack for £29.99.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: processor
Both kids’ tablets got a faster processor upgrade from their original models. In actual use we found the LeapPad 2 much faster than the InnoTab 2, which was noticeably slower at booting up and launching apps.
LeapPad 2 vs InnoTab 2: price
With Christmas approaching the prices of the LeapPad 2 and InnoTab 2 are fluctuating between suppliers as demand grows and availability lessens.
The RRP of the LeapPad 2 is £89.99. The InnoTab’s RRP is £84.99, but both can be had a lot cheaper if you shop around.
Remember that Amazon isn’t always cheapest, so look around at online shops such as Argos, Boots, Toys R Us and Early Learning Centre.
Check out our Best place to buy LeapPad 2 feature, but please note that prices are chaging all the time, and you must remember to factor in delivery charges. This guide should also give you an idea where to shop for the best place to buy the InnoTab 2, too.
Now watch our LeapPad 2 video review, reviewed by a 6-year-old.