Handheld gaming is big business these days, with apps-a-plenty for those who want to take anything from Monopoly to Minecraft for a whirl on a smartphone or tablet. Merging such technology with dedicated controls hasn’t always faired so well however, just ask the Gizmondo, Nokia’s N-Gage, or the PlayStation Vita.
Undeterred, the Wikipad is taking a crack at this market and is bold enough to introduce it to everyone’s favourite new handheld – the tablet. The Wikipad 7 is itself a 7” Android tablet with some pretty reasonable specs. An NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor is a little long in the tooth now, but still capable of handling most modern games and comes alongside a 12-core NVIDIA GPU. Elsewhere there’s 16GB of onboard memory (with microSD for up to another 32GB), 1GB of internal DDR3, a 16:10 aspect ratio, HDMI-out and 2MP front facing camera, along with all the standard features you’ve come to expect.
What differentiates the Wikipad 7, obviously, is the attachable controller station, which connects via micro USB and attempts to mirror a typical gamepad with dual analog sticks, trigger and bumper buttons and a D-pad alongside the other essentials. It can also render 3D games on the fly and send a 3D signal to 3D TVs, which could be a neat little feature if you have the technology.
We can certainly see the appeal of a controller for more action-packed titles or when a touchscreen just doesn’t cut it, something which is echoed by Tomas Slapota, Vice President of MADFINGER Games. “Using Wikipad’s dual-analog gamepad controller transforms our mobile games, such as the multiplayer Shadowgun: DeadZone and the action FPS Dead Trigger into entertaining AAA console-like experiences.”
As always with these tech-hybrids, the proof is in the pudding, and luckily you don’t have to wait for the first UK reviews to appear as it’s already doing the rounds in the US. So far it’s fairly positive. TabletGamingReviews did note that the Wikipad can struggle with some modern gaming titles, but were overall impressed by the controller unit, stating that “it can change the experience almost completely since it keeps your hands out of the way of what you’re looking at and allows you to feel like you’re using something more like an actual gaming console”.
Venturebeat was a little less complimentary, claiming that the controller unit felt cheap and added significant and unnecessary bulk to what is essentially quite an attractive tablet, though did note that on the whole the controls were pretty responsive.
And for what it’s worth, Amazon.com has generally positive (albeit few) reviews, and both here and elsewhere the Wikipad tablet is compared to the original Nexus 7. It certainly seems to fit snugly into the “mid-range” category, which is no real surprise considering the price, but considering you can now get some impressive mid-range 10” tablets now for a similar amount, you’ll need to be a pretty avid gamer and a fan of titles that the Wikipad controller can help improve. In this case we could be looking at an appealing, if niche device, but reports so far so suggest trying before you buy.
Wikipad tablet will be available to UK consumers on September 27th, 2013 at a retail price of £249.99