Posts Tagged ‘game’

Wikipad – The Ultimate Mobile Gaming Device

Road warriors, commuters and mobile gaming fans rejoice – there is an amazing new device called the Wikipad which is designed with you in mind. In a nutshell, the Wikipad is a high quality seven inch Android tablet with an attachable game controller. This combination device not only works well as a mobile gaming platform, but it is a great tablet for viewing media, reading email, surfing the net and even taking to work.

The quest for a better mobile gaming platform has been going on for decades. I still remember how cool the old Mattel handheld football game was and how jealous my friends were that I had one. The Nintendo Game & Watch system was great but definitely limited. Then came the first Nintendo Game Boy system which was a huge step forward in making portable games available to the masses. I worked at the airport back in the day and it was surprising to see how many business travelers and adults traveled with these devices which we thought were aimed at kids. Since then, mobile gaming has improved but most mobile devices still have small screens and awkward controls. Phone screens are growing but phones don’t have enough battery longevity to support gaming, laptops are clunky and awkward especially if you connect a controller, Bluetooth controllers have too much lag and tablets typically rely on touch-screen controls which are challenging at best. So how does a gaming enthusiast find a great mobile gaming option? The answer is now very simple…Purchase the new Wikipad tablet.

Wikipad1 The first thing I noticed when opening the box is how light yet solid the tablet feels. The Wikipad weighs under ¾ of a pound yet the impressive build quality along with the non-slip coating on the back helps the tablet feel very solid. The next thing I noticed was how easy it is to find the power and volume buttons. I have looked at a few tablets recently where the buttons were almost impossible to find. A friend handed me a new tablet and jokingly asked me to turn it on. I ended up finding the button but it took a while. I like a device where I can easily power it on/off and adjust the volume without having to really work at tracking down the buttons. The Wikipad does a great job of making the buttons unobtrusive but easy to use.

Once I charged up and turned on the Wikipad, I downloaded a few games and tried them out. I am familiar with using tablets for games and the controls are almost always very clunky and slow. Using the controller on the Wikipad is a HUGE improvement on both fronts. The controls are set up much like a standard game controller with thumb sticks to control movement, thumb buttons for actions and triggers along with shoulder buttons for acceleration and other tasks. The play is mostly intuitive and the Wikipad website has a mapping of the buttons attached to each of the games optimized for the device. As for lag, there really isn’t any. The tablet slides into the controller and connects via a micro USB connector. This provides a fast and reliable connection between the handle and the tablet without the standard Bluetooth slowness. For those occasions when the controller is left somewhere else, the screen is very responsive to touch.

Wikipad2 After playing some games, I decided to watch a movie on the tablet. I was impressed with both the screen and the sound. I started off with earphones which sounded great plugged into the standard port. After things were up and running, I watched part of the movie with the controller attached (which has forward facing speakers), and finished off the movie without the controller. The Wikipad has high quality stereo speakers and provided good sound but was best with headphones or the controller attached since the standard speakers are on the back of the tablet.

The battery life is competitive with the other seven inch tablets I have used and has more to do with how you use the device than anything else. Like all android tablets, you can increase your battery life significantly by completely shutting down applications that are not currently in use. This can be a little tricky but there are applications to help with this task.

Wikipad4 Expandability is another area where the Wikipad shines. When using a tablet device for media, it is easy to fill up the available memory with a fraction of the media you would like to carry. Several of the devices, even those from huge manufacturers do not contain a Micro-SD card slot, probably in an effort to force you into their top of the line models which have more memory but are still not expandable. The Wikipad does contain a Micro-SD card slot which allowed me to bring movies, music and large documents along with the device. In addition, it is nice to have a way of segregating my personal information from what is stored on the device. I am not terribly privacy paranoid but it is just easier to copy the data you want onto a card and slip that into the device rather than trying to synchronize everything.

Wikipad5The Wikipad 7 is a great device, but I do have few recommendations for the design team:
• The 7” tablet is great but an optional 9” device would be even better. A 9 inch tablet should fit in the same controller which would make things challenging but should still be manageable.
• Allow batteries to be installed in the handle so it can help charge the device on long trips. This would make it heavier but the owner could remove the batteries except when they are needed.
• Finally, I wish they included a six foot USB charging cable. All the devices I have tried come with a short charging cable which makes it very difficult to use the device when it is plugged in. This is an issue I have with every device I have purchased but if I keep mentioning it, maybe someone will listen.

The Wikipad is an amazing mix of high quality hardware, great design, and great software mixed in one package. It is now my favorite tablet device and even after a few weeks of working with it, I am still very happy with the complete package. If you are looking for the ultimate mobile gaming platform look no further than the Wikipad, especially if you would like something that can double as a mobile entertainment and productivity device.

• Android Jelly Bean and the hardware specs are impressive for a device in this price point.
• Processor: NVIDIA Tegra 3 mobile processor with quad-core CPU and 5th battery-saver core.
• GPU: 12-core NVIDIA GPU
• Screen: 7” diagonal 16:10 IPS scratch resistant military-grade screen with 5 point multi-touch display
• Wireless: Dual-band WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0
• Camera: Two megapixel forward facing camera
• Storage: 16 GB installed, upgradeable with micro SD slot.
• Physical dimensions: Without controller, 7.7” x 4.95” and only .42” thick with non-slip back, weight: 0.73 pounds
• Sensors: 3-axis Accelerometer, e-Compass, Gyroscope, GPS (including GLONASS)
• Input/output: 3.5mm stereo headphone and mic mini-jack, Built-in stereo speakers, Microphone, Micro USB data and power, Micro-HDMI output
• Battery: Built-in 4100mAh watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer
• Dimensions without controller: 7.7” 4.95” .42 ”, .73pounds
• Dimensions with controller: 11.26” x 5.71” x 2.57”, 1.47 pounds

Clubs and Crazy Clubs – Card Game Review


Tabletop games are great fun, but it usually takes a group of people to get one going. Now that my children are moving out of the house (oh happy day) there are times when it would be nice to have a tabletop game that is as fun for two people as it is for a larger group. This is exactly what I found in Crazy Clubs which is a variation of Clubs, a new game from North Star Games I found at the 2013 PAX Prime show.

The North Star Games team is already one of my favorites because of games like Wits & Wagers along with Say Anything, both of which are great party games. I was already looking forward to trying some of their other offerings when I saw Clubs in a little box on their PAX table. Luke Warren from the North Star team gave me a quick rundown on how to play and gave me a copy to try out.

Clubs is a fun little game that has some overlap with Hearts and Spades, but there are several things that set Clubs apart. Similar to Hearts and Spades, the goal is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible each round and to win Tricks containing the named suite. Clubs however includes bonus cards and has variations that are fun for fewer players. The result is a great game for two to six people whereas Hearts and Spades really need four players to be fun.

The setup and game-play are easy to pick up, but of course the strategy becomes apparent after playing a couple hands. To start, place the appropriate number of bonus cards (based on number of players) face up on the table then choose a first dealer who shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards to each player. The first person on the dealers left plays a Meld-Type (run or matching cards) and players continue along with that meld type or pass in clockwise order. Once someone plays a Meld-Type with a 15 or if everyone passes, the last person to play wins the trick.

When the first player gets rid of all their cards they take the highest available Bonus Card and play continues. The next person to “go out” takes the next Bonus Card until someone wins the 0 Bonus Card. Players get points for the clubs they won and for their Bonus Card. The person who wins the 0 Bonus Card does not get any points for their clubs in that round. The game ends when a player earns 50 or more points and then the player with the most points wins.

Crazy Clubs is a variation which is ideal for two to four players whereas the sweet spot for Clubs is four to six players. Crazy Clubs also encourages more trash talk and crazy unexpected results. The trick goes on until all other players pass consecutively. You have to stay with a meld type but any run can be beaten by any run of more cards and any single card or pair can be beaten by any set with more cards. This means that a trick with a 15 is no longer guaranteed to win the trick and it frequently leads to more points per trick. Needless to say, the momentum can shift on a dime.

Clubs and Crazy Clubs are great games for two or more people and are now among my go-to games. If you are looking for a quick and fun little game that will shift your competitive spirit into high gear, either Clubs or Crazy Clubs is the solution. For more information on this and other North Star Games, check out their website and like them on their Facebook page to share the love.

Starcraft II



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