After months of delays and redesigns, the Wikipad Android gaming tablet will launch June 11 for $249.
Wikipad is a 7-inch Android tablet that slides into a U-shaped game controller. The controller is included with the tablet, and packs dual analog sticks, a directional pad, four face buttons, bumper buttons, and triggers. In other words, it's set up like a standard console game controller, except it also has its own speakers.
Specs on the tablet itself are similar to Google's Nexus 7: an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a display with a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
The Wikipad's main advantages are a microSD card slot and micro-HDMI output. The tablet alone weighs 0.71 pounds and measures 0.42 inches thick, but the controller bulks the package up to a weight of 1.23 pounds and thickness of 2.57 inches.
The first Wikipad wasn't always going to be like this. Way back in January 2012, the company announce a 10-inch gaming tablet, ultimately pricing it at $500, but technical and supply issues forced Wikipad to put the larger tablet on hold last fall. According to Engadget, Wikipad then accelerated the launch of its 7-inch tablet instead. Wikipad may still launch a 10-inch version later this year.
Good time for mobile gaming
The arrival of the 7-inch Wikipad comes just in time as sales of small Android tablets are booming. There's also been a lot of interest lately gaming on phones and tablets with physical game controllers. Meanwhile, the Android platform has been racking up a decent selection of games that support thumbsticks and buttons, as Wikipad's website eagerly points out.
Wikipad faces competition from devices like the Moga Pro controller, which users can use with their existing smartphones, and dedicated Android gaming devices likeNvidia's Project Shield and Archos' GamePad.
But WikiPad is unique in that it comes with a standalone tablet, which can be easily detached for non-gaming use.
Wikipad also is focused on including a broad range of gaming services with the hardware. In addition to the Google Play Store, the tablet will come pre-loaded with Nvidia TegraZone, PlayStation Mobile, and streaming games from Big Fish. (Wikipad had promised support for Sony's Gaikai streaming games service, but that's no longer being mentioned.)
The main concern at this point is that Wikipad's Nvidia Tegra 3 processor is already outdated, with Tegra 4 devices just starting to hit the market. Still, the existing hardware should be just fine for current Android games.
For now, the tablet is only launching in the U.S., but Wikipad promises international launch details later this month. It'll be available at, BestBuy.com, TigerDirect, and Walmart.com.