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12 October 2013

REVIEW: Wikipad

Bachelor pad.

Aside from the latest version of Angry Birds here at The Test Pit we tend not to play all that many games on our Android devices. Don't get us wrong, there are plenty of great titles out there and available in the Google Play store, it's just tying to shoot your mates in a deathmatch doesn't feel right using a touchscreen.

Growing up with Sega Mega Drives and Sony Playstations has taught us the importance of a good solid game controller - something to hold and squeeze and by which your thumbs can do all the killing. Using touchscreen interfaces all day makes us yearn for thumb sticks and little physical buttons emblazoned with random letters of the alphabet. Thanks to the new Wikipad our yearning has come to an end.

The Wikipad is essentially a seven inch Android tablet that comes with a removable games controller into which the tablet can dock. Games can then be played using the controller, while the tablet itself is designed to also function like any other seven inch slate.


Controller.

Looking like a giant letter U the Wikipad's controller features two thumb sticks, a D-pad, four Playstation-like buttons and two trigger buttons on the underside of each 'arm'. All the buttons add up to an incredible range of controlling options, far outstripping the fiddly jab-jab-swipe of touchscreens.

With the tablet docked both gadgets feel like one seamless product - helped in no small way by the soft-feel rubberised plastic of both. Holding the combined Wikipad is a pleasure and far more comfortable than other mobile gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS and Playstation Vita. The chunky grips of the controller really allow you to hold the gadget firmly and confidently.

The controller also includes a pass-through USB port, allowing the tablet to charge while docked. There is also a pair of front facing speakers which boost the device's audio output drastically. So the Wikipad is on a win so far.


Tablet.

The Pad itself is a nicely styled and thinnish tablet running Android 4.1. In our humble opinion that rubberised plastic is less welcome here than it was on the controller, because although it makes the tablet a pleasure to hold it does make it look quite cheap and insubstantial. You might love it though, and it is certainly a refreshing change from the industry standard slippy gloss plastic.


In both looks and performance the tablet reminded us of the Nexus 7 from last year: quick and smooth, but nothing to shout about. Web browsing, apps, video and music all worked fine but again nothing really wowed us. To remedy this we downloaded a game, dropped the Wikipad into the controller and readied our much ignored thumbs.


Gaming.

We started with zombie game Dead Trigger POV shooters are always awkward to play on a touchscreen. After calibrating the controller to work just how we wanted (pulling down on the sticks meant looking up - a hold over from playing Red Faction for years on the PS2) it was an absolute riot. The controller really does transform a tablet into a games platform.

We got a taste for more games after that so downloaded Shadowgun: Dead Zone - also made for more playable by the controller. But in our desire to play more and more games in this new and exciting way, we hit a stumbling block. Namely, there aren't many games out there compatible with the Wikipad's controller.

Boot up Angry Birds on the Wikipad and you might as well slip the tablet out of the controller as it is useless. We really struggled to find games in the Play library that would work, but fortunately the pre-installed Playstation Mobile and NVision apps helped us along.

So although the combination of tablet and tactile game controller is a clear winner, there really aren't enough games out there designed to accommodate this yet. Still, the few games that do work do so very well and we can see that in the near future the addition of a Wikipad-style controller will be a must-have gadget for any gamer on the move.

£249.99

Vist www.wikipad.com


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