GDC 2013: Wikipad’s Gaming Tablet is Finally a Reality

GDC 2013: Wikipad’s Gaming Tablet is Finally a Reality

Apr 2, 2013

Calm down, internet. After delays caused some people to threaten the team at Wikipad with death for not getting their gaming tablet out on time, they finally showcased the final production version of the gaming tablet at GDC 2013 last week.

The tablet portion of the Wikipad is essentially the same as a Nexus 7. It has a Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and an 1280×800 IPS screen. However, there’s a few feature checklist improvements: a higher-resolution camera that’s oriented to be in the top center of landscape orientation, an expandable microSD slot, and an HDMI output for playing games on the TV. These are all located on the top of the device when in landscape orientation, which is very important because this is designed as a gaming tablet, and because the all-important micro-USB slot for the controller attachemnt plugs in at the bottom.

Yes, the controller attachment is the really interesting part of this device, which brings the standard gaming layout of 4 face buttons and 4 shoulder buttons to something that attaches to the tablet itself through the bottom micro-USB port. The controller has a rubberized grip for comfort, and it doesn’t add much weight to the tablet, it’s still light, though it is definitely bulky, and the analog sticks felt very loose out of the box when playing Dead Trigger.

There’s an SDK for developers to use to implement Wikipad controls, but the controller also boasts HID support for games that don’t have the SDK specifically enabled. The team is promising to go with as open an approach as possible – games can be acquired from whatever marketplace the user desires, as there is no special Wikipad store. Well, not necessarily: the device will support PlayStation Mobile, meaning that games on Sony’s store (that are also available for devices like the PlayStation Vita) will be playable on there. However, not all titles have controller support yet, but Wikipad is in touch with Sony to try to get more titles supporting the controller. They’re also investigating mapping touchscreen input to the controller.

The 7″ tablet with controller will be available for $249, and is in production now with units shipping out to distributors very soon.

LilyPad HD Redefines Multitasking on Tablets

LilyPad HD Redefines Multitasking on Tablets

Apr 18, 2012

The beta app LilyPad HD is a chat app from Ayman Suleiman, who runs the website that Tablified Market is based off of, that lets Android tablet users chat on IM from any app with an overlay. PC/Mac users think this is no big deal, but this app is a big deal for tablet users.

The thing to remember is that the current tablet architecture is borne from smartphone operating systems, not from desktop ones. Remember that the smartphone is designed to perform one task at a time, and because tablets are running on these same mobile operating systems, just at higher resolutions on bigger screens, they still operate in the “one app on a screen at a time” mode. As such, this means that despite tablets having the same resolution as many netbooks and laptops, true multitasking potential goes away. That’s what LilyPad HD attempts to do differently.

LilyPad HD windows show as overlays over the normal display. Everything behind them is still interactive and works as expected, it’s just the front windows of the app that can be touched and used when the app is live. Chat windows can be opened up and dragged around the screen. A buddy list can be opened and minimized as necessary. Minimized windows just become notifications in the notfication bar, tapped to be reopened. It’s very much like a desktop PC experience, what with windows to drag around and reopen from a list.

The app is still in beta, currently available from the XDA forums, with plenty of bugs, and the inability to add more than one account at the moment, it appears. Having the ability to add in accounts from the system itself, if possible, would be handy as well. Those will surely be ironed out, as at its core it is an IM app, and there have been plenty of those that have worked well. It’s just what this app is doing that makes it unique, as few if any apps have tried to bring a true multitasking (not just having apps running in the background) to tablet operating systems. This is a big step forward.

Sony Releases Photo Movie Creator HD for Android Tablets

It’s been a busy year for Sony Digital Network Applications, releasing a variety of photo and video editing apps that try to bring media editing and creation to casual users. Their final app of 2011 is Photo Movie Creator HD, and is their first app designed for Android tablets.

This app works similarly to the previously-released Photo Movie Creator for phones, just with an interface for Android tablets. Users take a group of photos, apply borders and text, and output a video containing their photos. This app works wonderfully on Android tablets, with an interface tailored to the wide screen and high resolution of the devices.

As well, the HD version of the app has social networking features. In particular, users can share videos with other users of the app, so that they can share their special moments and photographs with the world at large. Users can comment on the videos as well, and the most popular videos will be displayed on the top of the page.

Photo Movie Creator HD is now available from the Android Market.

GameStop Launching an Android Tablet – Could it be a Hub for Streaming Gaming?

GameStop Launching an Android Tablet – Could it be a Hub for Streaming Gaming?

Sep 13, 2011

The hip thing to do nowadays is for retailers to sell their own Android tablets. Barnes & Noble is doing it with the Nook Color. Amazon’s about to launch their own. And now, GameStop is about to launch one? At first glance this may not make sense, but there are parallels and reasons that make this make sense for GameStop, and why their tablet could be very interesting.

While games and books have been at war for decades as the latter is seen as a ‘classier’ entertainment choice than gaming is, consider the running threads between book retailers and a game retailer like GameStop. Both have peddled largely in distribution of a physical product that is now at risk of disappearing due to the advantages of digital distribution. In a an attempt to make sure that if and when physical distribution becomes unviable, book and game retailers need to latch on to digital distribution mechanisms. Barnes & Noble and Amazon have done so with their Nook and Kindle services respectively, and are launching Android tablets to help support sales of them, with stores for selling apps through them. Why can’t GameStop do the same thing? I’m not just talking about selling games through their own app store. I’m talking about what  they could do with their Spawn Labs and Impulse holdings.

Spawn Labs is a company known for their Spawn HD-720 box that allows players to hook up their consoles and play over the internet on any computer. Impulse is a game streaming service similar to OnLive and Gaikai, that GameStop owns and operates. Especially as PC gaming has been taken over by digital distribution, GameStop has been looking for their own entry point into this market. Why not have it be through a low-cost Android tablet? Sell a device that doesn’t have to be excessively powerful, just powerful enough to handle the streams of games that GameStop would offer, be they Impulse PC games or Spawn console games. Bundle it with a controller, and Offer AV and HDMI outputs, and players have a device that could be hooked up to any TV, easily, with the ability to play their games anywhere. It would also serve as an anchor for Spawn and Impulse services, as people would be more likely to shell out for games and devices on that service rather than OnLive, Gaikai, or even purchasing them on Steam. It would be a great way to introduce people to the service without any difficulty. In short, it could be the killer hook that GameStop needs to help launch their service, and give people a reason to buy their tablet.

Source: Joystiq

Motorola Xoom Wifi Hardware Review

Motorola Xoom Wifi Hardware Review

Aug 10, 2011

Android tablets have been something of a mythical beast, often mentioned, but rarely seen in the wild, at least as long as the iPad has been the popular tablet of choice. So most of my experience with Android tablets has been secondhand, until I recently got my hands on a Motorola Xoom Wifi tablet, running Android 3.2.

The Xoom feels about the same weight as the iPad, if not maybe slightly heavier, but the difference, if any, is such where actual measuring tools would have to be used to determine any weight difference. The hardware feels very rugged, like it could take a beating and keep on ticking. The battery life of the Xoom will depend on how much background processes will be running, and if a lot of notifications are active, but I approximate 6-8 hours of continuous usage without a charge; with occasional usage, I can go a couple days without charging the Xoom. The Xoom comes with a micro-USB cable and a separate wall charger; the cord on the wall charger is of very generous length, and using the Xoom while it is charging is very easy, unlike with the iPad’s obtrusive dock connector. The interesting element of the Motorola Xoom is that it actually has fewer buttons than the iPad, having just a lock/power button on the upper left side of the device, and volume keys.

The rear-facing camera is solid, and comes with a built-in flash. However, there is no “tap to focus” like on other Android devices, focusing only happens when the shutter key is pressed, and even then it does not provide a good preview of what the final image will look like. That’s really the problem with the camera in general; pictures are practically impossible to set up. This is a competent camera, though. A front-facing camera is available as well, though there’s no Skype available for the Xoom yet. Google Talk video support works, though.

All the ports are put in positions where they are out of the way of the hands in pretty much any orientation; the headset port is on the top, the charging ports are on the bottom of the device, and the volume keys are on the top left. If turned upside down, the volume keys are difficult to press accidentally. In portrait orientations, the ports are still well out of the way of any hand placement, though the tablet feels a bit top-loaded due to its taller aspect ratio. In landscape mode, the widescreen 1280×800 resolution of the Motorola Xoom makes it better for viewing videos, and makes it great for multi-column apps like Gmail and Twitter apps like Plume. A thumb keyboard comes highly recommended, though there isn’t one pre-installed with the Xoom.

There is the occasional slowdown while using the hardware, and the lack of any kind of default task manager makes clearing applications out of RAM a problem after a couple of days of continuous uptime. Power cycling usually solves these issues; rebooting is not available on the default software, and would likely require rooting. Still, for a device that is touted for its dual-core processor, it’s disappointing to see the slowdown that often pops up. The browser suffers from some of this occasional slowdown and lag. Flash does not come pre-installed, but can be easily downloaded and installed from the Android Market.

A comparison of the Android tablet OS compared to iPad’s iOS can be found in this The Hills Are Greener column, but the main drawback to Android 3.x is that tablet apps are harder to find. A variety of apps do work when stretched out to tablet resolution, yes, but it does lead to weirdness with the user interfaces. A lot of these apps are in the Android Market’s “featured tablet apps” section, as well!

Using the Xoom has been an entirely different experience from the iPad because of the differences. The Xoom is a great piece of hardware, and the base OS is very solid and well-designed for tablets. With more available apps on the Market, the tablet experience could improve. For those looking for an Android Tablet, the Xoom seems like a great choice, and will become something that I will regularly use, especially for productive activities, like writing and the most important activity of all: tweeting.

SwiftKey Tablet X Review

SwiftKey Tablet X Review

Aug 2, 2011

Tablets are big devices, big enough to where typing is often extremely difficult when holding the tablet in two hands. The full-sized keyboard is just awkward to type on unless there is something propping up the rest of the device. However, what some developers have come up with are keyboards designed to be used while holding the tablet, enabling normal typing with just the thumbs. Thumb Keyboard is one such option, and another comes from SwiftKey, with SwiftKey Tablet X. This keyboard combines the normal SwiftKey predictive text system, where suggestions for what SwiftKey thinks is what is being typed are displayed, with a keyboard that offers access to QWERTY keys from both thumbs.

This is a gamechanger for Android tablets. The prediction engine works very well, and it can look up the user’s Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to improve the predictions off the bat. The settings track the number of keystrokes saved, and it definitely feels like my typing has become more accurate as I use the keyboard and predictions more. The thumb-friendly keyboard also makes using the keyboard in two hands a possibility. Web browsing, tweeting, and even typing all feel more natural, as less shifting of the tablet in my hands is necessary in order to type. This is what using a tablet should feel like. The option exists for shifting to a full-sized keyboard as well, for those who may dislike thumb keyboards, or when the tablet is propped up on a desk or table. Theming options exist, as well as access to the speech to text service.

The ability to adjust key size would be welcome; sometimes some of the keys require more stretching of the thumbs than what feels comfortable. Options for spacing with punctuation keys like the semicolon are needed, as when used with predictions, it often requires backspacing in order to put the symbol right after a word. For example, I want commas and semicolon entry to complete the autocorrect’s word, and then put that punctuation mark in with no space beforehand. These options do not exist at this time, though.

This keyboard is fantastic, and has made using my tablet a dream. For owners of Android 3.x tablets, this is a must-have.

Samsung Announces Galaxy Tab

Samsung Announces Galaxy Tab

Sep 17, 2010

The folks over at Android Central are reporting on Samsung’s announcement yesterday about their Galaxy Tab, a new Android powered tablet device. It will run on all major US carriers: Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Samsung is quoted as saying,

The Galaxy Tab features a brilliant 7-inch enhanced TFT display screen, 1GHz Hummingbird Application processor supporting 3D graphics and smooth Web browsing and front and rear-facing cameras for video chat while on-the-go. The Galaxy Tab is powered by Android 2.2™, including full support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1. Just like the Galaxy S smart phones, the Galaxy Tab includes Samsung’s Social Hub application and the new Media Hub content service, offering a robust collection of premium movies and TV episodes from some of the biggest entertainment companies.

According to Android Central, Samsung is planning to have these babies out by this holiday season, and that a wifi only version is in the works.

Obviously, this is a direct competitor to the gorilla in the room, the Apple iPad. Whether devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab will compete at the same level as Android devices have with the iPhone remains to be seen. Stay tuned right here as we keep you abreast of all the latest news in this arena.