Kids love the iPad, and that shows both in the accessory market and the app market. Special styli, lightboard accessories, cases, drawing apps, children’s books, games – it’s a jungle out there. A $500 iPad is an expensive toy for a kid though (even if you can argue it’s the last toy they’ll ever need), and something with a glass screen is fundamentally not the best toy for children, which is why many of the cases designed for childrens’ iPads add inches worth of protection to the thing.
LeapFrog has now announced a new tablet that’s more specifically tailored to kids, the LeapPad. The $99 device will be a lot less sophisticated with a 5-inch 272×480 resistive touchscreen display, 2GB of internal memory, camera with video functionality, motion sensor and a microphone. The plastic fantastic tablet frankly looks like a toy as well, but with the design comes better durability. Apps will be specific to children and have some special features that tracks a kid’s abilities in games and reading books in order to automatically adjust the difficulty level to help the child learn.
Apps will unfortunately cost from $5 to $25 with only about 100 available by the end of the year, which means that the initial price of $99 isn’t all that great when you’re likely to spend so much more on apps that a used iPad 1 one have been cheaper. There’s also no indication that this tablet is an international device, so the iPad’s advantage of having such a huge app selection that there are now apps for kids in all sorts of minority languages is still going to be a deciding factor for many. I also have to question how many kids will actually use this once they’re had a run at mom and dad’s iPad, as a 5-inch 272×480 resistive screen is a rather pitiful replacement for a 9.7-inch 768×1024 capacitive screen no matter how old you are.[VentureBeat via Gizmodo]