It looks like the LeapPad Explorer could be the hottest tech gift for kids this holiday season.
Even the creator of the tablet, LeapFrog, is out of stock and can only simmer down the masses with this vague declaration on its Web site: "Check back often as shipments are arriving regularly."
LeapPad Explorer is a durable 5-inch touch-screen tablet with 2GB of memory (designed for kids between 4-9 years old). It starts at $99 for the device alone, with several bundles that go all the way up to $249. The curvy device has an eight-hour battery life supported by four AA batteries, and a built-in camera capable of shooting pictures (640x480) or video (320x240). Other interactive inputs include a D-Pad, motion sensor, and an embedded microphone.
Is the LeapPad Explorer capable of joining the ranks of Tickle Me Elmo and Zhu Zhu Pets as one of the all-time most-desired toys for the holidays? That has yet to be seen.
For the last several weeks, however, the tablet has sold out within an hour. During the first week of December, the LeapPad has been in stock for only a few minutes at a time across the various big-box retailers before selling out again.
Perhaps the real value of the LeapPad is how the aforementioned features will make your little one think it is a grown-up tablet. However, parents will likely find comfort in the lack of Wi-Fi and a tight-knit content ecosystem. After all, it's probably too dangerous to just give a child a full-fledged tablet capable of accessing the Internet. Instead, the LeapPad uses cartridges (which usually cost around $25), and has a library of more than 100 educational games, apps, books, and videos.