We met with the Wikipad folks during GDC last week to get our hands and eyes on the newly shrunken Wikipad, coming down from the original 10-inch size to a more manageable (and more affordable) 7-inch version. At 10-inches, this dedicated gaming tablet was attractive, but its price ($499) and size made it less of a real portable gaming device and more of an in-home gaming luxury. You can ask Sweet Brown what I think about that.
This newer, smaller unit is instantly more appealing to me as an on-the-go gamer. It's size makes more sense at 7-inches. Of course, the slide-on/slide-off controller adds more depth and width to its tablet-only dimensions, but it unit isn't huge, either. It could easily fit in a smaller messenger bag or a bigger purse, while the 10-inch could never do that.
It's one thing to be told what you're getting for the $249 asking price -- an Android Jelly Bean 4.1 tablet with 16GB of memory and a SD card slot for expansion -- but it's another to hold it and see and feel its gaming potential. While I still think we have a way to go before the Android mobile gaming scene is as healthy and robust as Apple's, it's getting there with new offerings piling on daily. This 7-inch looks like the perfect way to jump into any of the newer offerings.
I got to try out a few titles on the 7-inch Wikipad to test its gaming potential. The super light, easy to grip controllers felt too spaced out at first, coming from holding smaller gaming controllers that keep hands close together. But it didn't take more than a minute or two to get used to it, and the hand feel is sufficiently comfortable. And light -- this thing is so light that it's almost unbelievable. This will surely go a long way towards comfort, though we'll wait to make a full call on this until we have more time to spend with it.
As for the controls, the twin analog sticks are quality parts with nice movement, though the face buttons felt a bit light and cheap in comparison. Also, the d-pad is a floating-type pad, which will either float your boat or sink your ship depending on which camp you're in. Still, all of the included controls do the trick. There's 12 controls in all, making for a really nice way to make your Android titles infinitely more playable.
Of course, if you're not wanting to game, or would rather do more tablet-y things like reading or browsing, the 7" tablet pulls right out of the controller. It's a solid feeling tablet with nice rear rubber grips for your holding comfort. Smart design has controls and inputs -- the camera, volume rocker, power switch, headphone port and more -- on the top edge of the tablet, so when it docks you're able to access every included feature.
The Wikipad's Tegra 3 processor did a nice job of pushing out quality visuals to the unit's 1,280 x 800 IPS screen, showing me that while you're not getting blow-your-face-off good graphics on this tablet, it'll still hold its own with anything out there currently.
We hope to put the 7-inch Wikipad through its paces in the coming weeks with a proper review. For now, know that the smaller size and massive price cut make this device way more attractive as a gaming unit than its predecessor.