Android tablets are everywhere. There are tons of options out there for buyers, so for a new tablet to make its way to the market and make a splash, it needs to do something original and exciting. It’s a scary market for a new company to enter, but that certainly isn’t stopping plenty from going all in and attempting to build new devices.
Enter the Wikipad, a new 7-inch Android tablet with something of a twist. While the tablet portion of the device might seem pretty standard, it features a dedicated gaming controller attached directly to it.
Is a dedicated gaming controller enough to make the Wikipad a device worth owning? Is it simply a run-of-the-mill tablet with a useless gaming controller? Keep reading to find out.
Best of all, we are giving one of you lucky readers this brand new gaming tablet!
Introducing The Wikipad
As I mentioned, the Wikipad is a 7-inch Android tablet that’s sold for $249 and comes with a dedicated gaming controller which wraps directly around the device. With that in mind, its primary purpose is to function as a portable gaming system. While it can handle everything a regular tablet can, that’s really not what Wikipad was designed to achieve. Can you run a web browser, navigation, and all kinds of apps? Sure, but so can any other tablet on the market. Can those other devices play video games? Yes, but not with the physical buttons of the Wikipad.
The Wikipad actually has two completely different sets of competitors. First, it has devices like the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. On the other hand, it is also occupying a similar space to Sony’s PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo 3DS. After all, it can be considered a portable gaming device.
On all fronts, the Wikipad‘s $249 price tag is very competitive. The Nexus 7 sells for $199, so the Wikipad is only $50 more. It costs exactly the same price as the PlayStation Vita, so in terms of pricing, it’s actually a strong competitor in relation to other devices on the market.
When buying a tablet, the core specifications, while not the most exciting part of the buying process, is most definitely something you are going to want to know about. In the case of the Wikipad, the specs are very impressive, as the device features all the performance on the inside you could want.
To start with, the device features a 7-inch, 1280×800 display. The images on the screen are created through the power of an NVIDIA Tegra 3 mobile processor with quad-core CPU. It also comes with 1GB of RAM, which is more than sufficient for what the tablet needs to accomplish. It comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean installed out of the box, so it has features like Google Now available.
For connectivity, it only comes with dual-band WiFi, not 3G/LTE. This means you can’t get a version that allows you to put a SIM card in for the purpose of connecting to cellular data. It also has a USB port for charging and an HDMI output for hooking it up to a television.
Its 16GB of internal storage can be expanded through microSD cards. Lastly, the Wikipad features a 2MP front-facing camera. This is the only camera on the device, and it’s definitely lacking. With the high-performance processor and graphics card, it seems likely that Wikipad kept a lower-end camera to keep the price down a bit, since this is, after all, a device built primarily for gaming.
A quick look at the Wikipad without its gaming controller makes you realize that it looks a lot like a Nexus 7. Other than the Wikipad logo on the back, the two devices are close to identical. That’s not a bad thing by any means, because the Nexus 7 is a beautiful device.
The interesting part of the design is the controller sleeve that wraps around the tablet. It adds almost 4 inches to the width of the device when attached, and it changes the weight from 0.73 pounds to 1.47 pounds. Obviously, this a quite a bit of extra size, so it’d better be worth it. We will get to the actual performance of the gaming peripheral later.
The gaming buttons should feel pretty standard to anyone who has used a modern controller. It comes with two joysticks, a direction pad, four face buttons, a forward and back button (most games use these as start and select), two triggers, and two shoulder buttons.
When the gaming controller is attached, I can’t help but think it looks like a giant Sega Game Gear with a bunch of extra buttons. This is not a bad thing, as the Game Gear was a fine-looking device. Having the gaming controller wrapped around the tablet looks natural. One of my biggest fears for the look of the device that attaching a gaming controller would look forced and out-of-place, but it definitely does not.
Playing Games On The Wikipad
It’s time to get down to the serious matter here: how does this device function as a portable gaming system? Let’s put aside the web browser and all that other nonsense and look at this thing as if it was only built to play games. After all, that’s very likely what most Wikipad owners will be doing.
First, the device comes with a few games out of the box. Dead Trigger, which is one of those games, was the very first game I booted up. And I have to be completely honest, I was not impressed. The controls felt very awkward, and I was just about ready to write the device off completely. Of course I didn’t, and I moved on to another preinstalled game called Hockey Nations. In this game, the controls felt fluid and natural, almost like I was playing the game on a massive PlayStation controller.
Now that I was a little happier with the gaming experience on the device, I moved over to NVIDIA TegraZone –NVIDIA’s app store, which also comes installed out of the box — and looked for another shooter to try. After all, many gamers are going to want to use this device to play this genre, so was Dead Trigger just a bad example? Yes, it most certainly was, because The Conduit HD felt awesome. It had a lot more auto-aim assist than the previous game, which made it feel a lot more comfortable on the device.
For my next venture into gaming on the Wikipad, I decided to boot up a Super Nintendo emulator. If you know anything about me, or have read the slew of articles I have done on classic game collecting, you know I own legal copies of the games I emulate, so don’t worry. Like playing games built for the controller, I found playing emulated SNES games to be a joyous experience. The controls felt comfortable, and while I preferred to use the D-pad for classic games, they work with the joystick too.
So what games can you play on this contraption?
The company has an official list on its website. It’s growing, and more games are added regularly, but there is enough to get you going. Some of them games are even free, like the aforementioned The Conduit HD. Some apps, like the emulators, are not listed, but they do work, as long as they support controllers. There is no way to custom map controls as the player, so it does have to be included in the game for it to work.
Another nice feature on the Wikipad is the ability to play games from PlayStation Mobile. Here, you can get access to plenty of PlayStation games and mobile games not available on other Android hardware. It’s rare for Sony to authorize a device not made by itself, so this is a great place to get a ton of games, even if they all don’t support the controller.
Overall, I think this tablet is a great gaming device. However, it needs an expanded game library if it wishes to compete with the likes the Vita (which is actually lacking in its own library), and the 3DS. Of course, you can play a slew of touch games like any other Android tablet, so it does have that over the other portable consoles. Still, it’s the controller that attracted me to the Wikipad, so those are the games in which I am most interested.
Can’t I just buy one of those third-party controllers for my existing tablet?
Of course you can — and if you already own a tablet, that might be the more cost-effective option. The big difference is that Wikipad is working with developers to bring support to games. This means that the best Android games that work with the Wikipad will work well with the device, and controls should never feel shoehorned in. In addition, the Wikipad’s controller fits around the device much more comfortably than most third-party controllers because it is made with this specific tablet in mind.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with buying a controller for your existing tablet, as spending $250 when you already own one might be a waste.
Using The Wikipad As A Traditional Tablet
Of course, to only call the Wikipad a gaming device would be missing a key part of what it can do. It comes with a pretty stock version of Android Jelly Bean, which means it can do just about anything you expect from such a device. Google Now? Check. Maps? You know it. Google Play and all the apps that come with it? All there and ready to go.
The 1GB of RAM and powerful processor make this device feel incredibly snappy. Everything launches almost instantly, which makes it quite functional for day-to-day usage. Even with tons of apps running in the background, I never once felt the tablet slow down at all.
There really isn’t anything bad I can say about using this device as a standard tablet. Of course, if you are used to an iPad or larger tablet, the 7-inch screen might feel a little too small for you. I actually found that, as an iPad owner who has not charged or turned on his tablet in months, I actually preferred the smaller screen.
Basically, the best way to sum up the Wikipad’s tablet functionality is to say if you want a fast tablet that runs Android Jelly Bean, this one will do the job as well as any other on the market, but with all the aforementioned gaming features. Of course, if you don’t like Android, then no amount of additional gaming hardware is going to sell you on the Wikipad, because at its very core, it’s a pretty standard Android device.
Bringing It All Together
We’ve discussed the two different functions of the Wikipad, so now that begs the question: how does it all work together? It really comes together as an incredibly complete device. While a console like a PS Vita or 3DS is primarily a gaming device, and a Nexus 7 is aimed at being a tablet that can play games, the Wikipad blends both together seamlessly.
Because the gaming controller just slides in and out, it is easy to switch it back and forth between gaming and tablet usage. Of course, if you want to use it as a tablet while on the go, and want the controller with you, you are going to have to carry around another piece of hardware, but thankfully, the controller is not too big or heavy.
Overall, I must say I was impressed with the Wikipad on almost all fronts. Being an iOS guy, I did not quite know what to expect from this device, and it surprised me both in its performance as a tablet and a gaming machine. It offers a similar level of power to other tablets around the same price, and it does so with a fantastic piece of additional hardware.
How do I win the Wikipad Android Gaming Tablet?
We have a new giveaway procedure in place, which will hopefully make participating much easier. You may enter using your Facebook credentials (which will require you to sign into Facebook) or by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning!
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This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, July 12th. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.