Smaller Wikipad Arrives for E3
JUNE 5, 2013 • All set for a Halloween 2012 release, the 10-inch Wikipad Android gaming tablet was delayed in order fix a hardware issue with the game controller dock. When attached, the horizontal dock adds gaming controls to the fully featured tablet. The device is now set for a June 11 release during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, but in a smaller seven-inch form factor. The change in screen size was made as a result of supply issues with the original 10-inch panel. Other aspects of the Wikipad that have shrunk include a drop in price from $499 to $249, and weight. The original design weighed in at 1.68 pounds with controller attached, 1.23 pounds without. The new seven-inch version is only .71 of a pound in tablet-only use, and 1.23 pounds in gaming form. Powering the unit is a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor with a 12-core Nvidia GPU. Screen resolution is unchanged at 1,280 x 800. Available storage is 16GB, with a SD slot to add an optional 32GB of memory. Micro USB and HDMI ports are included. Also featured is a 2-mega-pixel front facing camera. The Wikipad ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In addition to games available via Google Play, every Wikipad will also have access to 250 titles from cloud service Big Fish Instant Games. The device also supports content from PlayStation Mobile.
Impact: At $499, the original Wikipad struck us as too expensive. No argument that Wikipad Inc. had created a solid piece of hardware that delivered a premium feel when held, as well as strong performance when used. Our perspective, however, is that there is yet a market for a premium Android device at $499. Of course, a premium Android product at $249 is another proposition entirely. Screen size aside, there seems to be no scrimping at all in the quality of the final release Wikipad. In fact, we think the smaller form factor makes the device more mobile, and more attractive to consumers. The removable sleeve-like controller port also seems less cumbersome to manage in this smaller size. As the current flood of Android gaming devices go, we think the removable controller remains a smart design. In its pure tablet form, the Wikipad demands no sacrifices in capability or function, and best of all, elicits no embarrassing questions on the subway or in the boardroom. Android gaming is growing as a consumer choice that is siphoning away momentum from other traditional game platforms. But at least for now, we see Android gaming as primarily a mobile experience that is additive to smartphone and tablet ownership, not a primary reason to own. That is why we think the Wikipad takes a step forward to better Android gaming, while staying close to how consumers interact with their mobile devices. In its recent report on the subject, The Global Market for Games and Entertainment Applications on Smartphones and Tablets, DFC’s forecast for game revenue from these devices was quite conservative. This will not be a major additive gaming platform but is an example of products that can attract consumer spending away from other platforms.