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Nyko's PlayPad and PlayPad Pro Android tablet controllers (hands-on)

Brian Heater
06.05.12
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There's a great video game land rush happening on the mobile front, as developers and hardware manufacturers work map out precisely how users will play with their smartphones and tablets. We've seen plenty of peripheral makers give it a shot, hoping to transform decidedly clunky touchscreen gameplay into something more akin to devoted consoles. Some, like Ion, have taken a fairly whimsical approach to the process, giving the world the iCade, a tablet controller shaped like a small arcade cabinet.

Nyko's going a much more straight forward route with PlayPad and PlayPad Pro, Bluetooth controllers that intend on bringing console gaming over to the mobile side. The PlayPad is the smaller of the two devices. It ships in a spring loaded eyeglasses-style case. Also inside is a small stand that you can unfold to prop up your Android tablet in portrait or landscape. The controller itself is quite small and fairly light. It has two circle pads on the front, a d-pad, four face buttons, shoulder buttons and a giant home button in the center.

Gallery: Nyko's PlayPad and PlayPad Pro Android tablet controllers (hands-on) | 14 Photos

Nyko's PlayPad and PlayPad Pro Android tablet controllers handson

We gave it a whirl on some titles and found it to be pretty responsive. The buttons function well and don't have the cheap feel that plagues so many of these types of devices. The PlayPad's biggest downfall, however, is the fact that thing is just too small for most grownup hands. Nyko gets points for making it quite portable, but the company sacrifices comfort in a big way. The company could learn a bit from PowerA, in terms of ergonomics here. And while the light weight it great when on the go, a little heft would have helped out as well.

The PlayPad Pro, meanwhile, does address some of those problem. A Nyko rep described it as a "fusion" between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers -- and certainly those folks know how to make a controller. The Pro actually feels pretty good in-hand -- we could see ourselves using it for moderately sized gaming marathons. The controller lacks the carrying case and stand of its junior counterpart, however -- Nyko is seeing two very different case usages for these products, with the PlayPad traveling with users and the Pro stepping in for those who tend to hook their tablets up to a TV and essential use them as skinny touchscreen consoles.

Both controllers will run you "less than $50" at launch.

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