From the looks of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, gaming tablets are going to be a big thing. Sort of like the Wii U’s controller, but without the Wii U itself, these are iPad-style tablets that use (sometimes optional) physical game controllers, to play today’s modern PC and Android games.
Here’s a look at two of the tablets demoed at the 2013 CES, as well as the just-announced Wikipad. All three tablets will be available soon.
Release date: Q2 2013
Plays: Android games, Tegra 3 and 4 exclusives, Steam PC games (by streaming)
Project SHIELD is basically what you get if you glue a Samsung Galaxy Note “phablet” to a bulky original Xbox controller, sans the ability to make phone calls. The result is an enormous game controller which serves as a fully-functional game console, with a 5-inch capacitive touchscreen that folds over the controls clamshell style.
Project SHIELD can’t play Xbox games, but it can play “THD” exclusives made for NVIDIA’s Tegra chipset — most of these are for the earlier Tegra 3, but at least one Tegra 4 exclusive was shown off at CES. It’s also designed to stream PC games via Steam’s Big Picture mode, although for this feature you need a PC running Steam. Unfortunately, it’s expected to be expensive and have poor battery life.
Price: $1,000 to $1,299 (more with accessories)
Release date: Q1 2013
Plays: Windows PC games
The Razer Edge beats out even the Microsoft Surface Pro on both size and price. Like the Surface Pro, it’s a 10-plus-inch tablet running Windows 8 on an Intel processor; unlike the Surface Pro, it has a dedicated graphics card, although it pales in comparison to the hardware in most modern gaming rigs.
The higher-end model has a Core i7 processor and more than 64 GB of storage space, which you’ll almost definitely need if you want to put actual PC games on it along with the full Windows 8 OS. Expect to pay another $400 to get the Gamepad Controller, the docking station (which adds HDMI and audio out and several USB ports), and an extended battery, without which you’ll be gaming for roughly an hour per charge.
Release date: Q1 2013
Plays: Android games, Tegra 3 exclusives, PlayStation Mobile games
If the Wikipad had been at CES this year, it might’ve been voted “most likely to be mistaken for a Wii U Gamepad.” It’s basically a 7-inch Android tablet with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and 16 GB of RAM, comparable to Google’s low-end $199 Nexus 7. The extra $50 gets you expandable memory (via a microSD card slot) and the dual-stick game controller attachment, which encases the Wikipad and is compatible with more than 60 games.
Wikipad was previewed last year as a 10-inch model, which was to be priced at $499. The company ran into some issues while trying to make it, however, and decided to make a more lightweight gaming tablet instead, which it finally unveiled just a few weeks after CES.