If you have kids and own a tablet, chances are you've passed it to the back seat on occasion, asking your five-year-old to help you navigate to the beach, or to beat an otherwise hopeless level in Angry Birds. Now, you can reward them with a tablet of their own. Available in green and pink, the $100 LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer includes a 5-inch, 480 x 272-pixel (16:9) touchscreen, 2GB of built-in storage, and a durable housing -- but your 5-9 year old isn't going to get caught up on specs. They will take notice to the built-in camera (with video capture), microphone, stylus, and accelerometer, however -- all of which enable custom kid-friendly apps and educational games, including Disney Animation Studio, an interactive reader, and compatibility with over 100 downloadable apps and LeapFrog cartridges, which range in price from $5 to $25. There's no wireless connectivity, so you'll be tethering with Windows or Mac OS to download additional content, and to share your child's creations with family and friends.
We're certainly far outside LeapPad's target demographic, but we did have a chance to go hands-on with the device earlier today, and felt that the tablet was solidly built, with a well-rounded feature set and sufficient expandability options -- for a kids toy, of course. Games and apps took advantage of the Pad's features, such as Roly Poly Picnic, which uses the accelerometer to navigate through a maze, spelling out simple, three-letter words along the way (like all apps and games, Picnic is adjustable based on your little one's age and skill level). There's also a video player (currently limited to 4:3 content), photo, and video capture apps. Shipping August 15th, the device doesn't have a ton of horsepower under the hood -- a 400MHz processor means apps won't launch with the speed and grace of an iPad 2 -- but for a $100 toy, the LeapPad will do just fine. PR and hands-on video are after the break.