I should point out I have no experience of the education of children beyond being a parent and knowing...hmm, it seems I know a whole load of primary school teachers (none of whom I consulted about this product prior to review). I have taught a some university students some maths and supervised a bunch of laboratory sessions, but most of those people could already read and write.
(Saying that, I did mark some lab reports from some biochemists once and most of them definitely couldn't read or write if the bizarre stuff they put in their reports was anything to go by. You know, those who actually bothered to write anything at all.)
What I'm saying - if I'm saying anything at all - is that I don't know if this laptop will help your child to learn his ABC. This review comes from an 'is it fun to play with?' angle - which is probably the most important angle. After all, even if it's the most educational thing on the planet, if it's not fun to play with children simply won't use it.
Like a Chemistry lecture, no matter how fantastic & revolutionary the information contained is, if you don't make it lively and interesting everyone in the audience will just fall asleep. (Bridges are a great help in this regard).
What this Leaptop (you see what they did there? LeapFrog like their 'making it sound a bit like the adult version') does, it does very well. It has a large, clear LCD screen which can display animations. It has a British voice (no letter 'zee' here!). And while I haven't deliberately told the children to throw it about, the Leaptop has taken a few minor knocks without any problems. I feel reasonably confident that it could be thrown downstairs and live to educate another day.
I'm not sure how I feel about the letter arrangement on the Leaptop. It's good for learning the alphabet, but as it's not QWERTY it's no use for learning to type. It's important pre-schoolers learn to type, right?
The box lists a whole host of things you can do with the Leaptop, but I'm pretty sure a lot won't get used much by most people. The email option, for example, sounds great. But it turns out there are only 8 different emails the Leaptop can receive and you have to keep plugging it into a regular computer to get them.
(Yes, I appreciate including wi-fi would have pushed up the price quite a lot).
The age recommendation is 2+. From experience with my own kids, I'd say that the Leaptop is best suited for a 3 year old who is just starting to learn letters. My oldest son is 4 1/2 and starts 'proper' school in September. He can't read yet, but he had little interest in this - he said it was a baby toy and could he please go back on Dad's laptop, please?
That may be the problem. My children have been using a 'grown up' computer since they were able to pull the keys off the keyboard (I'm still missing an 'alt' key), and thus basically skipped the 'children's' computer stage. Even my 2 year old was only entertained by the Leaptop for a few minutes of button-bashing before moving on.
If your child hasn't had much to do with computers, the Leaptop would be a very good introduction. If he/she has, then I'm can't guarantee how much interest there'll be.
Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.