We bought a LeapPad when they first came out. It was a pain to get since everyone wanted one and it cost a pretty penny, but it is worth every cent maybe more. Even our pediatrician said that it is great for kids to learn abs's, science, math, etc.. If your on the fence I say get it!
Ours is over a year old and works perfect! It has been played with by my 2 yr old and 5 yr old, daycare kids, my nieces/nephews, the kids I nanny, and pretty much every kid that comes to our house. My husband is often found playing it as well. So here is what we have done to keeps ours working great:
#1: Make sure you get a case
#2: Get the gel cover
#3: Cover the screen, just like a smart phone.
#4: Get good rechargeable batteries
Here are some of my pro's: It will save your iPad, smart phones, and computers lots of where and tear. It is great for long drives in the car, I cannot tell you how many hours my kids have been entertained in the vehicle with it. You really don't have to help them at all after a couple times using it, even the 2 yr old finds what she wants. I love that you can watch movies, play games, take pictures, read books, etc... my kids don't get board with just one activity. It is educational unlike a DS, our rule is you cant have a personal game system until your at least 8. Ability to check what you kids are playing, when I plug it into the computer I am able to see what they have completed. You can get games relatively cheap when ToyRus runs their sales, I haven't paid over $14 for a game yet. There are multiple languages, haven't tried them yet but they are on the list. Each LeapPad has 3 players set and one guest option so your kids can easily share, but still have there own personable menu. Its a good toy for a family to share.
Cons: You have to expand some a the games and the system tells your child to have a grownup get the expansion. We haven't expanded any of ours yet, but my son asks every-time he play one of the games. The games play fine without the expansion, but I might buy him one for his coming birthday. There is no battery gauge it would be nice to know how much is left especially before a long drive. The back covers where the batteries go don't stay on, this is not a big deal at all if you have a gel cover. The LeapPad 2's are supposed to be more durable so maybe this is what they fixed, it is the only problem I could think would make it more durable.
Best games we have tried:
Letter Factory: fantastic game, I wish they would make more like this! My son has had this one since Christmas this year and I have seen a dramatic improvement in his letter recognition, sounding out words when he reads, and writing. I can actually read most his words now. I can't attribute it all to this game, but if you sit and play if for just a couple of minutes you will be in love with its teaching capacity. Get this game for any child under 7.
Magic School Bus Oceans: another recent purchase that is great! This one is definitely a game for 5 and up. My son has been learning about different sea animals, food chains, and sorting. This game really helps them learn to listen and follow directions. A good game for fun facts!
Mr. Pencil: this is a good game for learning to draw shapes and be creative. It is a little hard since it makes you trace it exact, but a good game.
Games that are not so great:
Spongebob: Its just dumb, plain and simple. The game doesn't have that great of graphics and you really don't do much other than karate chop everyone. I guess its a break from educational games, but I wouldn't buy it again.
Apps we like:
Brain Blocks Flash Cards- Land Animals: this was a surprisingly good app. It has a 2 player game that is mainly what we use, but a good little app about animals.
Umi Zoomie Video's: we dont have TV and I really like the math skills this show teaches. I love that the kids can watch a short movie with no commercials. 3 episodes per app.
Bubble Guppies: this is mainly what my 2 yr old does with the Leappad. They teach colors, shapes, and sing fun songs. 3 episodes per app.
We love the LeapPad and plan to buy one more soon for our 2 yr old, we will be trying out new games (girly ones) and I will update on the ones we like. Share your reviews too, I hate buying something without reading reviews first.