Balancing all the technology at our fingertips and not always ‘plugging’ our children in is tough. Very few gadgets today bring any kind of educational value to our kids’ lives. They are simply toys that make noise that preoccupy our kids. But Leap Frog, the company behind a host of great children’s toys, has launched the LeapPods Max, a listen and explore headset designed for kids four and over.
Unboxing the LeapPods Max kids headphones
Once you get your new LeapPods Max’s out of the box, there are only a few things to worry about. Unlike with tablets and other toys, there is minimal setup to get the headset ready for your kids. Using the included quick start guide, you will be instructed to plug the headset into a computer and make sure it has a full charge. It’s worth noting that the LeapPods Max do not come with a USB charging brick. While you might be tempted to use any other brick for charging purposes, the company recommends you don’t. Instead, you use a computer for charging, and only a computer.
Also in the box is a 3.5 auxiliary cable for plugging the headset into various gadgets, a short micro-USB charge cable, and of course the aforementioned quick start guide. You will also have a small booklet which outlines all the different modes available in the device, as well as six colourful pages for the Adventures mode.
The headset itself is lightweight and has all on-board controls with large buttons, perfect for kids’ hands. All the on-device buttons are located on the right ear cup. There is a large dial for switching between the various included modes, as well as skip buttons and a play/pause button. On the rim of the ear cup you’ll find the on/off switch, Bluetooth button, and a volume control. Underneath a hidden rubber panel you will find the charge port and the 3.5 auxiliary port.
Activity modes on LeapPods Max headphones
One of the things I really appreciated about the LeapPods Max was that there is no setup required. Once the headset had a sufficient charge, I was able to hand it over to my son so he could start exploring the various modes.
In Dance Party, kids can work through 10 different, upbeat songs and dance along to the music. Adventures mode allows kids to look at the included booklet and enjoy stories about specific areas. There are six different adventures to enjoy, including the Amazon Rainforest, African Savanna, Under the Sea, Australian Animal Sanctuary, The Countryside, and Deciduous Forest.
If the Dance Party songs are a bit too crazy and wild, kids can slow things down with the Learning Songs. If you as parents are tired of the regular run-of-the-mill nursery rhymes, I have good news! The Learning Songs included in this headset are songs I’ve never heard before, and they are not half bad! The headset also includes two other quieter modes that parents will enjoy. In Quiet Time, soothing voices will softly build your kids up with positive messages. These range from talking about kindness, why actions matter, breathing exercises, and more. The 10 included instrumental tracks are also a great way to calm kids down as they play solo activities or ride in the car.
The final included mode in the LeapPods Max is the one my kids had the most fun with. In Challenge mode, kids will complete a number of audio challenges posed to them. Their most favourite was Wiggle Freeze. In this game, the headset will shout out commands such as “Wiggle!” or “Touch your knees!” before ultimately saying, “Freeze!” This became quite the experience for my kids, and the laughter was infectious.
Multipurpose connectivity options
There is a good number of hours of content on the LeapPods Max. Out of the box, there will be plenty for your kids to enjoy. It could be said, however, that after some time the activities built into the headset might become a bit stale. That is a legitimate concern, and one that I thought of before even opening the box
Leap Frog has thought this problem through. The headset itself has uses outside of the included programing and activity booklet. As indicated above, the device does come with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack. This allows the headset to be plugged into compatible electronics and accessories. My youngest used this to watch shows and listen to music on his tablet. He could even use it with an Xbox One controller when playing one of the Paw Patrol games.
Even more impressive is that the LeapPods Max includes Bluetooth audio as well. This has been a lifesaver on recent trips. While the older kids listen to the Harry Potter audio books while driving, our youngest can enjoy his favourite music and kids books through my smartphone. Simply pair the device to the phone as you would any other Bluetooth accessory and you are good to go.
This is great forethought from Leap Frog, and really shows that the company is thinking long term with their products. If the usability of the device past the included programing was a concern you had, don’t worry. This headset has a multitude of uses!
What could be improved?
With any device aimed at kids, we do wish something were done differently. For the LeapPods Max, the lack of a USB charge block is a bit of a disappointment. Further, the quick start guide recommends only charging with a computer, which can become limiting on trips and in other scenarios. We also wish the device used USB-C as opposed to micro-USB. The assumption here is that using micro-USB is a slight cost saving decision, keeping the headset itself very affordable.
There is something to be said about the programming that comes on the LeapPods Max—it is limited, and it is unlikely your kids will enjoy all of it. If you are purchasing based only on the included songs and activities, make sure your kids are going to enjoy most of what is on offer here.
While I did find the content a bit limited, the features built into the LeapPods Max make this an easy purchase. Kids headsets are hard to find, interactive headsets are even rarer, and standard headsets are not generally built for kids. If you are looking for a headset for younger kids, there is a ton of functionality that makes this an easy choice. If you are comfortable with the headsets limitations, it is an easy product to recommend for younger children.
Check out more kids headphones available on Best Buy today.
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