Two of the newest toys on the market, the Leapster GS Explorer and the Nintendo 3DS, both get great reviews from kids, and will both be hot sellers this holiday season, but parents should know all the facts before buying one. If you need help deciding which portable games console is right for your child, the following information may help.
Leapster GS Explorer
The Leapster GS Explorer looks like an old-school Sega Game Gear or possibly a thicker version of the PSP. It comes in the traditional white and green colors, as well as white and pink, that Leap Frog is famous for. It has buttons on each side of the 3 inch touch screen , a stylus, and tilt sensors. The console has a video and still shot camera, as well as speakers and a microphone. The game is built tough for kids so it should withstand most drops, spills and bangs.
Measurements: 7 inches x 3.5 inches x 1 inch
Weight: About 1 Lb
Power Source: 4 AA batteries that are not included
Screen Size: 3 inches
Memory: 2 GB
Games, Books, Videos and Apps
The Leapster GS Explorer not only offers educational games, but the traditional action games too. Kids can use the camera to take pictures of themselves and use those photos to superimpose their face on certain game characters. With the video camera, children can also learn to edit movies. E-Books and movies are also available, with the e-books being a little more interactive than just sitting and watching a video. Leap Frog claims there are over 300 games and apps available.
To cut down on battery usage, you can purchase an AC adapter, not to be confused with a charger. Even though the game is built kid-tough, you can also keep it in an additional purple or green carrying case to keep it even more safe. These cases have a carrying strap, zipper closure and inside pockets to carry up to three additional games.
This game looks just like the old fashioned DS Lite, but a lot more colorful. The consoles come in an icy blue, black and flaming red colors, not to mention the fact that the 3D screen doesn’t need special 3D glasses. You can adjust or lock the level of 3D you want your child to see and you can still connect to other players just like in the older version. There are three cameras on the unit that also take 3D pictures and a WiFi connection. .
Measurements: 5 inches x 3 inches x 0.8 inch
Weight: 8 ounces
Power Source: Rechargeable battery
Screen Sizes: Upper 3.5 inches, Lower 3 inches
Memory: 64 MB plus SD slot
Games and Play Modes
Even without a game cartridge, the Nintendo 3DS has a few activities already installed on the game system as well as the ability to connect to other players through a wireless connection. It has its own games but can also play most of the games from other DS systems, but as a precaution you should always investigate online before purchasing a game from an older model. The battery life is comparably shorter than a DS Lite, but you are getting 3D images which no other DS offers. You can use the WiFi connection not only to play against other people, but to stream videos from sources like Netflix.
Accessories don’t normally make or break the purchase, but the Nintendo 3DS has a really cool ‘starter kit’ that is a must-have accessory. You get over 10 products including an extra styluses, game and carrying case, car charger, headphones, cleaning cloth and more. The starter kits can be bought in the three colors of the Nintendo 3DS game systems so all of the accessories will color coordinate with the actual game system. If you only get one accessory, car chargers are a must have for any parent and especially during long car trips or commutes.
Leapster GS Explorer Vs. Nintendo 3DS: Which Should You Buy?
The Leapster GS Explorer is almost the same as the LeapPad, only looking more like a video game. It is cheaper than the Nintendo 3DS, and supposedly suited for kids up to age 9, but most kids after age 7 would probably rather have a Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo 3DS does cost twice as much as the Leapster, but you don’t have to buy rechargeable batteries or spend on replacing disposable ones. The Nintendo system also caters from ages 5 to adult, so spring for the more expensive console if you can.
It’s never too soon to start Christmas shopping, especially with kids in the family. Just as adults like to have the newest electronic gadgets and cell phones, children follow suit. Here is a guide to the top kids games consoles for Christmas 2012.
LeapPad: Leap Frog LeapPads resemble large smartphones or computer tablets. They’re built kid tough and should withstand most drops and spills, but they aren’t so bulky that kids can’t get a good grasp on them. This toy features a touch screen and over 300 game cartridges and downloadable apps are available. Each game and app has an additional cost (one of the downsides), but kids will be limited to a small amount of games and the console itself should keep up with a growing child. The recommended ages are 3 to 9 years old.
Leapster 2: The Leapster 2 looks more like a video game but still has most of the same features as a LeapPad. It’s a little less high tech and mainly uses cartridge games, but is perfect for younger siblings who also want to have a hand held video game system. These are cheaper units and are perfect for toddler and even older children up to about age 8.
Nintendo 3DS: The Nintendo 3DS resembles the older DS Lite, but with new console colors and the awesome 3D screen. The best part about this little game is that you no longer need 3D glasses to see the 3D images and most DS games will work in the new console, even if they do not display 3D images. The level of 3D display can be adjusted or turned off and there is also a lock to prevent kids from changing the settings back and forth. This game is perfect for children aged 5 to adult.
Nintendo Wii: The Nintendo Wii has been out for a few years now and has quite a few accessories that kids can use to feel as if they are inside the game. In addition to the controllers there are nun-chucks, steering wheels, sports equipment and balance boards. One of the new games, Skylanders, incorporates tiny figurines that are placed on a magic portal and magically appear in the game. The main drawback to this console is that it cannot play DVDs or music CDs. This console is more apt for ages 7 and up.
Nintendo Wii U: The Wii U is the most up and coming video game console accessory, and it will be in hot demand come Christmas. The device basically looks like a computer tablet and allows you to play Wii games on the screen instead of on your TV and get different views and game play choices with existing Wii games. There are speculations that it will come out in November.
PS Vita: The Vita is like combination tablet and video game console. It has 3G service, WiFi, cameras, touch screen, front and back control pad and the option to link the Vita to your PS3. You can start a game on your PS3, then start it up again on the portable PS Vita. The screen and resolution quality are excellent, much like watch a mini LED TV. Because the game and accessories are on the higher end side, and the game is a little bit more fragile, this gift is perfect for ages 14 to adult.
PS3: The PS3 has great graphics and is really geared toward older children and adults who really like to make the most of their gaming experience. With Playstation Move, gamers can also play motion sensor games and take advantage of more interactive play. In addition to being able to play games, the PS3 can also be used to play CDs, DVDs and Blu Ray discs. The console, games and accessories are generally more expensive than those of the Wii or Xbox Kinect, but you also get better picture quality and more versatility. This is a perfect gift for ages 12 and up.
Xbox 360 with Kinect: The Kinect offers many games that kids can play, completely controlled by motion and not needing a controller. For adults, there are fitness games and virtual personal trainers. Just like the Wii, the Xbox 360 with Kinect is perfect for the whole family, but it also caters to hardcore gamers too.
Now that you know top kids games consoles for Christmas 2012, you can keep your eyes out for sales and package bundles for this holiday season. It’s never to early to start Christmas shopping for your children, or any other video game lover on your list, especially when it comes to the hottest new releases (like the LeapPad 2 or Wii U) that may even sell out.