We all know that gaming on mobile devices is incredibly popular. We all do it to one extent or another. It’s also possible that portable gaming systems (like the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation PSP/Vita) have survived because of their interfaces giving access to push buttons and joystick-like controls that make gamers feel more like they are, in fact, gaming. If this supposition is true, it may spell success for the WikiPad tablet coming to us this fall from GameStop, the world’s largest multichannel retailer of video games.
At the core, the WikiPad is just another Android tablet. Sporting a nVidia Tegra 3 T30S, 1.4GHz Quad-core processor with a 10.1″ display that features a resolution of 1280×800, it looks pretty comparable to other devices already out there. Of course, that’s before you realize that it comes with 1GB of on-board storage 16GB of flash memory and room for an SD card as well. Partner those things with the typical front and back cameras, 3-axis Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, e-Compass, Gyroscope and Active Vibration and things start to look a little more competitive when it comes to this new device.
Oh, and it comes with a dock that turns this tablet into the world’s largest PlayStation controller –complete with joystick paddles and all the buttons (front and back, top and bottom) that you could possibly need in order to play your favorite game!
Is it cool? Absolutely. Do I kind of want one? Sure. Will I grab one? Doubtful.
There is a lot of value in this device. A partnership with PlayStation Mobile goes a long way, and shipping with a fully functioning installation of Android’s Jelly Bean 4.1 operating system means there is no compromise on gaming vs. any other tablet activity, but I’m just not convinced that it is enough; especially when you see the USD $499 pricetag (pre-order now for an October 31 release date direct from GameStop online).
The idea is fantastic: leverage the popularity of mobile gaming with the success of tablet devices. The reality is less remarkable. I’m afraid that WikiPad is about to learn that the success of mobile gaming is due entirely to the fact that people love their tablets and, oh by the way, also happen to game on them. To be competitive, WikiPad would need things to work in the opposite direction: people loving their gaming device and also wish it happened to be a tablet.
The other problem of course is that if you have your joystick dock with you, it’s bulky and inconvenient which means that you will realistically only have it with you at home –the same place you already have your favorite console gaming system.
Children will go crazy for the WikiPad. The novelty of PlayStation games on the go with a lot more functionality to use with their social media apps and web surfing beyond what they can get on the PSP or PS Vita will be incredibly popular. The problem of course being that there aren’t that many kids with that kind of money to spend or parents willing to afford it for them. For that kind of price-tag, parents want something a little more multifunctional and laptop-replacing.
The other kink in the works is the expected release of the iPad Mini around the same time this fall (if not a little sooner). It may not carry the novelty-factor joystick accessory, but it should prove to be affordable (expected to be around half the WikiPad cost), portable and give access to Angry Birds (which is pretty much what we all want to play these days anyway, isn’t it?).