DD (3yo)has both a Leappad and a VTech VSmile, and enjoys both. If I was going to get just one though I'd go for the VSmile - but you have to be prepared to share your TV. Already a few games available, and more out in October, including Dora and Barney. This really is for the ages set - it says from 3yo and it really means that IMO. And the age ranges for the games seem pretty good too, although the grown ups seemed to enjoy the Winnie the Pooh platform game last Christmas And there is a new Art pad for it jsut come out - on DD's Christmas list - so you can use the VSmile to draw pictures on the TV.
We got it when DD was 2y8m, last Christmas and Dd did enjoy using it - but she was limited to only aspects of the game and needed help. As she has gotten older she can do more and more on her own (only has two games at mo) and she does love to have it on. She still needs some help to play the whole thing - age range for game is 3-5yo, so that's why.
But I'd say yes, definitely suitable for a 3yo's birthday IME.
DS has a Leappad - we got him quite a few books to go with it but all he wants to do is play the games part of them !
In hindsight - we probably should have picked educational games rather than learning books with games tacked on!
The 'Clifford' CD Roms are really good by the way if you have a budding computer genius !
DD also has a Leappad. So long as you get the books for the correct age group (up to 5yo) they are fine. DD tends to do the activities, rather than reading the story with it, and she loes clicking on the pages to see what they say/do.
As I mentioned before if I was going to get just one of them, I am pretty sure I'd go for the VSmile - as DD uses that most.