LeapFrog leaps to Android with Epic, its latest tablet for kids (hands-on)

The Epic will run its own educational apps, but also be able to side-load Android apps from the Amazon store.

Scott Stein

Scott Stein

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I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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If you have a kid, you might know about LeapFrog, makers of educational software and kid tablets. Or, maybe you just let your kids use your iPad, or an Amazon Fire tablet. LeapFrog finally seems to be acknowledging that other tablets exist, by launching the first Leap tablet that's an Android device.

The 7-inch LeapFrog Epic is an Android-based tablet that runs LeapFrog apps, but can also side-load Android apps from the Amazon app store. It will cost $140 in the US (UK and Australia prices are not currently available but $140 converts to around £90 or AU$190).

Don't expect a regular Android experience, though. The LeapFrog Epic is built on Android 4.4, but runs its own specialized LeapFrog software and connects to existing LeapFrog apps ported over to run on the new tablet. You can set up individual kid profiles, manage how long they use certain apps, and monitor usage. Parent controls can open the tablet up a bit more: for full Web browsing, and to side-load apps like the Kindle app, or Netflix, to give this a bit more use than the typical LeapPad.

The Epic's interactive home screen and app dock. LeapFrog

The LeapFrog Epic has a 1,024x600-pixel 7-inch display, 16GB of storage and a microSD card slot to add another 32GB. Its 2-megapixel front and rear cameras can record 480p video, and it has 20 pre-installed apps. It also has its own capacitive stylus, just like previous LeapPads. LeapFrog's targeting the Epic at kids aged 3 to 9.

I only got to peek at the Epic briefly, and didn't get to see all the apps to see how it performs against previous LeapPads. But it seems like an improvement: This is, finally, a Leap device that could actually be used as a regular tablet too. It lasts an expected 6 hours or so on a charge, according to LeapFrog.

The Epic, with included stylus. Scott Stein/CNET

The Epic arrives in September, and seems priced to compete directly against other affordable Android tablets like Amazon's. But those tablets are priced pretty aggressively: the Amazon Fire HD 7 costs $139 or £129, and the Fire HD 6 starts at $99 or £69 (neither are available in Australia).

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