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Finally! We're getting a tablet that no one in their right minds can consider an iPad killer.

LeapFrog Enterprises (NYSE: LF  ) introduced the LeapPad Explorer tablet yesterday. Unlike the toymaker's original edutainment system with the same name, the new LeapPad is an economical touchscreen tablet that will hit the market come mid-August.

The rugged devices come with a camera, microphone, and two gigabytes of data storage. There will be dozens of downloadable apps, as well as the company's flagship plug-in cartridges. Beyond the edutainment games, interactive books, and crafty diversions, there will also be proprietary videos available. LeapFrog is also working with Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA  ) (Nasdaq: DISCK  ) for some Discovery Kids clips.  

The tablet isn't perfect, but it will do for its target audience of kids between the ages of 4 and 9. It will also be kind on the pocketbook, setting parents back just $100.

In short, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) won't be losing any sleep over the summer release. Parents will be able to give their kids a dedicated tablet and keep the iPad for themselves.

It may not pan out that way. Kids will probably enjoy taking snapshots and recordings, but there will come a point when Apple's ecosystem of countless free apps and web surfing will be sorely missed. After all, you didn't expect Wi-Fi connectivity or access to third-party developers in a $100 gadget, did you?

LeapFrog's been burned by dumbing down adult gadgetry in the past. The Firefly mobile phone and Fly "pentop" computer didn't exactly catch on as the company would have liked.

It seems to have a better grasp on what the market wants these days. Net sales bounced back nicely last year. LeapFrog is eyeing a top-line dip this year, but its outlook calls for a profitable showing.

It's still too early to tell if the LeapPad will be a breakout hit, but launching on August 15 will give it plenty of time to build up demand for the telltale holiday shopping season.

The kiddies finally get a tablet, but it's not something that Hasbro (NYSE: HAS  ) and Mattel (NYSE: MAT  ) are likely to take lying down if the new LeapPad gains any kind of traction.

Will a $100 tablet for kids fly? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Discovery Communications, and Hasbro. They have also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and shorting Hasbro. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has two boys who went through plenty of LeapFrog gadgetry in their youth. He does not own any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

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  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 12:04 AM, predfern wrote:

    So it won't connect to a wireless network? How do you get on the internet. My son is autistic and we have been considering a tablet. He likes to go to and watch videos.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 12:05 PM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    No Wi-Fi, but this isn't meant for kids who want access to the unfiltered web. You need to hook it up your PC or Mac to download apps, games, videos, etc.

    A cheap Android tablet with Wi-Fi is probably what you are looking for.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 12:04 PM, dawsonmel wrote:

    I hope it good and sturdy. My 3 year old loves to read. It will be great for her for Christmas (she will be 4 by then) I'm afraid she might drop it and break it.

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