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 starting price for the Leapster GS Explorer is around $70. 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. There are game cartridges starting around $18 and downloadable apps starting around $7. 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. Most Nintendo 3DS game units start out around $185.
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. Game cartridges start out around $20 and you can also download games that start at about $2.
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. For less than $20 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.