LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Camera & Video Recorder hands-on
While it may be unassuming and requires LeapFrog's Leapster Explorer handheld gaming/educational device to actually work, it's amazing just how much the tiny Camera & Video Recorder add-on actually, ahem, adds on.
No bigger than one of the console's cartridges, the camera plugs directly into the bottom of the Explorer, and brings forth true magic. Not only is it a fully working snapper and camcorder for the toy, but it triggers a whole stack of new software to download through the company's LeapWorld portal and app store.
New learning games make great use of the camera, and Pocket-lint tried a few out at Toy Fair 2011 in London. For starters, pictures taken with the Explorer can then be added to a kind-of Space Invaders game, where a child can set his or her own face as the good guy, and somebody else (their Dad?) as the bad.
And, as this is a LeapFrog product, even such things as a simple shooting game has learning activities as, for example, it can be set to play out maths questions ("1+2" appears, shoot the alien with "3" on its face).
Other games include Photo Fracture, which turns a pic into a jigsaw, Story Creator, which turns photos into tales, and Photo Journalist, although that's a rocky road to poverty and bitterness. Ahem.
In addition, pictures can be drawn on, to add comedy glasses, beards and such like, which can then be sent to a computer via USB and the LeapWorld front-end. They can then be subsequently printed.
It can also shoot and record video in standard definition (640 x 480) and there is a microphone on the accessory too. Plus, one of the games is specific to the mode, as Video Maestro plays a song for a child to make a pop video to.
Certainly, LeapFrog supplies plenty of ways the new camera accessory links in with its existing device, and for those who already own a Leapster Explorer, it's a no brainer. At £14.99 it adds so much more, and even considering the main console's price of £59.99, when combined it's still markedly cheaper than a more adult games console, and more learning and educationally-focused too.
Additionally, new camera-specific games and utilities will be appearing on the LeapWorld online store in the coming months, so it's unlikely a child will get bored of it any time soon.
And when we say "child", we mean ourselves, naturally.
At internetmatters.org parents can find all the advice they will need to keep their children safe online. Designed specifically for parents, the site offers a wealth of up-to-date, unbiased information and advice about how to deal with online safety. Parents can learn about the latest issues and technologies, get great tips on how to talk about online safety with their children and get the best advice on dealing with issues and taking action. Created with experts, Internet Matters provides detailed information, but also signposts to best-in-class resources from individual expert organisations. Our goal is to ensure parents can always access the information that they need, in a format that is clear and concise.