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Best Android tablets for everywhere gaming – April 2015 edition

They say Android tablets are good for casual, mundane, non-straining tasks and activities like web browsing, e-book reading, unpretentious YouTube watching or music playing. For everything else, buy an iPad. Or go big and bulky, and get a Windows laptop or convertible.

Google Play games

Unfortunately, for the most part, they are correct. The blame is split evenly between Google, device manufacturers and third-party software developers, none of which seem to be heart and soul dedicated to making the large-screen “ecosystem” all it could be.

Apps and games are awkward, laggy or outright don’t work on many 7-inch+ Androids, and the diversity of display sizes and aspect ratios complicates everyone’s progress efforts. Build quality and pricing don’t always meet, and so going after the staggering sales numbers and profits of iPads looks mission impossible.

Android gamer

Still, some strides are being made, our recent high-res slate roundup acting as living proof. Now, it’s time to bring in the graphics-cranking gaming troops:

Selection criteria

What makes a dependable gaming tablet? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not an Apple logo. Instead, the first thing you want to look at is the GPU. Not the CPU, even though that’s important for a range of endeavors, but the graphics processing unit.

Tegra K1

As the name suggests, the GPU is in charge of visuals. Or, how Wikipedia puts it, it’s “designed to rapidly manipulate and alter memory to accelerate the creation of images in a frame buffer intended for output to a display.”

Which brings us to item #2 on our order of business – RAM, aka random access memory. You want as much as that as you can get. And a pixel-filled screen, capable of delivering HD and Full HD content with no stutter or lag. Finally, battery life is essential for on-the-go gamers who don’t like sitting tight next to a power socket all the time.

Nvidia Shield Tablet – $299 Wi-Fi only; $299 and up with AT&T 4G LTE

Our first player is perhaps a little small for ideal gaming, at 8 inches, but it’s a 3DMark and GFXBench champion. Literally, we’ve seen it posting record results in both benchmarks. FYI, the two are the prime tools for gauging theoretical graphics performance, so you’ll be hearing them mentioned throughout our list.

Shield Tablet

Now, even if we didn’t have these “synthetic” test scores, we could’ve easily guessed the Tegra K1 chip is a beast. It’s only 32-bit-capable, but the GeForce Kepler GPU packs 192 CUDA cores. Sounds a tad gimmicky, and it’s obviously not 50 times faster than quad-core rivals, yet it can play uber-demanding games at up to 65 frames per second no problem.

The Shield Tablet can be paired with a dedicated controller and stream GRID titles especially fashioned for its 8-inch panel such as Half-Life 2: Episode 1Saints Row IV or Batman Arkham Origins.

Google/HTC Nexus 9 – $379 with 16 GB storage; $450 in 32 GB configuration

We don’t want to play favorites, we honestly don’t, but Nvidia’s the man here, and Qualcomm has some catching up to do. The N9 comes fitted with the 64-bit dual-core Denver-based flavor of the Tegra K1 “superchip”, and its benchmark grades are consequently inferior.

Nexus 9

Not by much, though, and the 8.9-inch screen is both larger and crisper, at 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. The aspect ratio is 4:3, which is arguably best qualified for movies, not games, but overall, this is an out-and-out powerhouse, no matter its primary use.

Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 2014 edition – starting at $394

It really boggles the mind why so few Snapdragon 805 tablets are around, albeit we get the CPU was merely intended to smoothen the transition from 800 to 810. Its Adreno 420 GPU is clocked at 600 MHz and breezily delivers 3DMark scores circling the 20,000 magic number.

Fire HDX 8.9

With an eye-catching 2,560 x 1,440 pix res display, impressive autonomy and 2 GB RAM, the newest Fire HDX sadly loses precious points at content access, having to rely entirely on Amazon’s Appstore. Granted, Google Play doesn’t include oodles of outstanding HD+ games, but there are a few spectacular ones you may want to keep up your sleeve.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet – $575 international version; $500 and up with Verizon

It’s costly, old, slightly less graphically endowed, with an Adreno 330 inside and, oh, did I mention a sequel is literally around the corner? Nonetheless, it’s got 3 GB RAM in tow, 3D surround sound, plenty of CPU muscle, a big-ass Full HD piece of glass, unrestricted access to Big G’s app outlet and Lollipop treats incoming.

Xperia Z2 Tablet

Plus, it’s water resistant, so you can finish a few GTA San Andreas missions while taking a long, relaxing bath. That right there is living the dream!

HP Slate 7 Extreme – $99.99

Yes, we are serious in recommending this near-obsolete Jelly Bean little guy. It’s not for hardcore gamers, that goes without saying, but at a Benjamin, it’s an absolute bargain with a quad-core Tegra 4 SoC that averages over 16,000 points in 3DMark: Ice Storm Unlimited, according to Futuremark. Told you Nvidia was the real MVP.

HP Slate 7 Extreme

And yes, we realize 1,280 x 800 pixels is an unacceptable resolution for a few contemporary action titles, but look on the bright side – the force battery life must be strong with this one.

Asus Transformer Pad TF701T – $270 standalone tablet; $320 with docking station

Another decrepit machine, the same everlasting Tegra 4 processor with 72-core GPU, and an extra forte. A physical keyboard boosting productivity, as well as endurance. Now, close your eyes and picture a slate/mini-laptop hybrid with a 2,560 x 1,600 Super IPS+ LCD screen and 2 GB RAM.

Asus TF701

Admit it, that mental image takes you to a 2015 specced out contraption, not a two-year-old. So, the TF701T might be old, but it doesn’t show it.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro – $500

We’re not sure a 13.3 incher qualifies for conventional tablet material, and the Intel Ivy Bridge SoC further sends us sniffing around Windows laptop land. But there’s no keyboard in tow, Android 4.4 KitKat runs the software show, and the GPU is mediocre by full-fledged PC standards.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

For $500, it’s good enough, outperforming Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S in 3DMark in addition to touting 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, 15-hour battery, 2 GB RAM, Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancements and a 5 watt JBL subwoofer.

It’s more of a multimedia, living room entertainment type of gadget, but if you’re strong enough and have big hands, it can be carried around and used for non-addictive gaming. Yeah, right, non-addictive. The Android tablet ecosystem isn’t great, but it’s not that bad.

Final Fantasy V for Android to arrive on September 26th

Final Fantasy V for Android

Final Fantasy V for Android will be released on September 26, according to an announcement made by Square Enix Europe on Twitter. Its arrival on Android comes around half a year since the same game was released for iPad and iPhone users in March 2013.

Final Fantasy V for Android
Final Fantasy V for Android

Final Fantasy V for Android features and price

Interested gamers may expect better translation, refined and remodeled graphics, improved controls, new character portraits, and more customization freedom from the Android port. The mobile game trailer further says that within the game, players will be able to select among the added jobs of oracle, gladiator, canoneer, and necromancer. Likewise, the same video teases the coming of the mage Enuo. The game involves five player characters: Bartz Klauser, Lenna Charlotte Tycoon, Galuf Doe, Faris Scherwiz, and Krile Mayer Baldesion. It is expected that Final Fantasy V for Android will be sold for $15.99 on Google Play.

Final Fantasy V is one of Square Enix’s best-selling classic medieval fantasy games which had been made available on Nintendo’s Super Famicom, Sony’s PlayStation, and Game Boy Advance in the past. It is part of the Final Fantasy media franchise that has branched out from role-playing games (RPGs) to movies and anime, among others. Among the Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy V is said to be the first to give rise to a sequel. It was first released over two decades ago, but had been immensely popular among gamers, which is why it was released again for mobile users to enjoy.

The upcoming release of Final Fantasy V for Android had been rumored since late last year, so its arrival on Google Play will be very much welcome. Some Square Enix fans, however, may be disappointed that the company is not releasing an entirely new game, but simply an enhanced version of one of its classic titles.

Check out these past posts on other Final Fantasy games for Android users: Final Fantasy IV for Android Video ReviewCrystal Defenders Lite Android Game Review

via reddit

source androidcommunity

 

3D Virtual Tabletop raises over 1000% of funding goal

The 3D Virtual Tabletop project on Kickstarter has currently raised $50,392 of its $5,000 goal on the crowdfunding website. This is a thousand times more than what they asked for to make the cross-platform tabletop application a reality. The Kickstarter fundraiser ends in a few hours, after 45 days of being live.

3d-virtual-tabletop

A project by Brendon Duncan of Christchurch, New Zealand, 3D Virtual Tabletop puts a spin on the traditional pen and paper roleplaying or strategy games. Among the games that can be played through 3D Virtual Tabletop are Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, Savage Worlds, Rolemaster Classic, Castles & Crusades or Call of Cthulhu. 3D Virtual Tabletop will be made available for Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows 8, Windows Phone, and on Mac and Windows web browsers.

3D Virtual Tabletop claims to offer realistic visual representations of game miniatures. It also ensures that navigating the map is both easy and intuitive. One note that the developer makes, however, is that 3D Virtual Tabletop will run more smoothly on high-end devices.

Already, the team of developers have released a demo that boasts of features like viewing the tabletop from different angles, importing the user’s own maps and miniatures, as well as changing the minis to flat tokens when the user chooses the birds-eye view.
• More features will be released after the Kickstarter project. These include a map and miniature marketplace, customized user accounts, as well as cross-platform sharing. Paid content from a long list of sources will be released, as well. Furthermmore, plenty of other content and features for those who pledge on the Battalion plus level will be made available. Some of these are Hidden miniatures, Silhouette shape for miniature card, Rangefinding, Google+ Hangout integration, custom dice, among others.
In the future, 3D Virtual Tabletop will cost gamers $0.99 per month. The developers promise to offer more features in the future, depending on what its community wishes to be prioritized.

You can still add your contribution to the project before it officially closes. Head over to Kickstarter by clicking on this link. You can also check out the demo here.

via kickstarter

Crazy Taxi for Android now supports NVIDIA Shield

Crazy Taxi for Android

Crazy Taxi for Android has rolled out version 1.2 which offers support for the NVIDIA Shield controller. The game’s previous version, which was launched just last month, only supported all HID, Xbox, and Power A MOGA controllers, apart from having standard on-screen touch and tilt steering controls. Android Police points out that SEGA appears to have skipped offering NVIDIA Shield support for Crazy Taxi for Android when it updated other SEGA games for the controller’s launch.

crazy-taxi-for-android
Crazy Taxi for Android

Other games that should have supported the controller during its launch include Need for Speed: Most Wanted, N.O.V.A. 3, Smash Cops Heats, and Into the Dead, according to Droid Life. In fact, finding several incompatible games was one of the negative points in Droid Life’s review of the controller last month. Despite the fact that NVIDIA released a list of over a hundred games on Google Play that were compatible with the Shield, the reviewer mentioned that such list was not impressive. Thus, SEGA’s decision to finally have Crazy Taxi for Android support the NVIDIA Shield is good news for gaming enthusiasts. SEGA itself did not announce this new feature in the changelog. However, its Google Play page had previously stated that NVIDIA Shield support would be available in the future.

For those who are not familiar with the game, Crazy Taxi for Android lets gamers drive through streets in a race to collect a large sum of money. The game is a remastered version of a Dreamcast Classic game that was released back in 2000. Gamers can choose from 3, 5, or 10 minutes of game play and two gaming modes, Arcade and Original. Various environments are available such as deep sea or hilly terrains. There are also 16 mini games within the game itself. Moreover, gamers are allowed to select their own songs and put them in a music playlist. SEGA also says that it has a Universal Build, which means that purchasing Crazy Taxi for Android once enables users to play it on various devices.

Crazy Taxi for Android has a rating of 4.2 on Google Play. It has a size of 228M and has gotten between 10,000 to 50,000 installs. This low-maturity game has a minimum requirement of Android 2.2 to function. It costs $4.99 to download. Here is the link to the game on Google Play.

via androidpolice, droid-life

Test the NVIDIA Shield in New York and San Francisco next month

NVIDIA is giving consumers a chance to try out the Shield Android gaming console. If you happen to be in New York or San Francisco in August, you can head over to one of four locations, where NVIDIA will open Shield Movie Theater Experience Centers. These centers will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the entire month, so that when you watch your summer movie, you can test the NVIDIA Shield, as well.

nvidia-shield-movie-experience-center

In New York, the centers will be set up in the following locations: Garden State 16 – 1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus, New Jersey; and New Roc Stadium 18 – 33 Lecount Place, New Rochelle, New York. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the addresses are Cupertino 16 – 10123 North Wolfe Road, Cupertino, California; and Mercado 20 – 3111 Mission College Boulevard., Santa Clara, California.

It would be recalled that some third-party mechanical problems postponed the launch of the Android gaming console from June to this month. The company had also slashed $50 off the price of the Shield, bringing it down from $349 to $299, supposedly to make the product more attractive to consumers.

The device, which will be pitted against the Xbox One and the PS4, comes with the super-fast NVIDIA Tegra 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5 inch 1280×720 Multi-Touch Retinal Quality Display with 294 ppi, 16GB of internal storage, and support for 802.11n 2×2 Mimo Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, Mini-HDMI output, Micro-USB 2.0, and MicroSD expansion. It will also sport integrated stereo speakers, a microphone, and an audio jack. Out of the box, the device will offer Sonic 4 Episode II THD and Expendable: Rearmed, but it will allow consumers to download games from both NVIDIA TegraZone and Google Play.

The shipping date for the pre-ordered NVIDIA Shield consoles is still unknown at present. If all goes according to the new schedule, the Android gaming console will arrive late this month, just several days before to the company’s opening of the Shield Movie Theater Experience Centers.

via androidcentral

Microsoft Xbox, PC games are coming soon to Android, iOS

Microsoft may offer its Xbox and PC titles to Android and iOS users starting the end of the year, according to a Reuters report. To make this move possible, the Nikkei says that Microsoft has teamed up with Klab, a Japan-based smartphone game company.

microsoft-age-of-empires

To start off, Microsoft is supposedly developing an Android and iOS of the game Age of Empires. The version will be in English, and will arrive as a free-to-play title on the Play Store and the App Store. Eventually, the Redmond company will release more titles. Unfortunately, there is no information yet on what these titles will be.

Curiously, Microsoft skips its own Windows Phone platform in the initial release of these formerly Xbox- and PC-exclusive titles. However, the company clarified that Windows Phone will be supported in the future. The games will be released in more languages, as well.

A 1997 release, Age of Empires is one of the company’s more successful franchises, giving rise to three spin-offs and seven additional titles. Since its release, it had been made available for the Nintendo DS and the Mac OS. However, it has not been made available yet on mobile devices. Two years after the release of the original game, Microsoft also came out with a sequel called Age of Empires II. This game received a refresh on Steam just this year with high definition graphics and an enhanced multiplayer mode.

To date, Microsoft is already earning a considerable amount of revenue from Android and iOS users through licensing deals, as well as apps. It has already given iPhone users access to a limited version of its Office productivity suite, which Android users will purportedly be able to enjoy soon, as well. If the information in the report is accurate, these upcoming games will help Microsoft secure a better grip on the smartphone gaming market.

via maclife, reuters, tnw

Bluestacks’ GamePop to sell for $129

GamePop, an upcoming console for Android gaming, will have a retail price of $129 when it hits the market.

bluestacks-gamepop

Bluestacks, the company which developed an App Player software that brings Android to Windows and Mac computers, is behind the GamePop console.

GamePop is said to be Bluestacks’ answer to the Ouya, an Android-based gaming console which obtained crowdfunding success on Kickstarter.

GamePop, however, is different from Ouya in terms of the payment model it is using. It offers users a one-year subscription that costs $6.99 a month, or a total of $83.88 for an entire year.

Bluestacks clarifies that this does payment model not bind users to a contract per se, but there are consequences in case users decide to stop the subscription. For one, they have to send back the GamePop to Bluestacks, and pay a restocking fee of $25 within 30 days. An early termination fee of $100 is also payable by the user if the GamePop is not returned.

Anyway, during the subscription period, users may choose from more than 500 games to play from its catalog.

Such games are offerings from several top mobile game developers which have teamed up with Bluestacks in its newest endeavor. Among its partners are Halfbrick, Intellijoy, OutFit7, Glu Mobile, and Deemedya, adding credence to the phrase Bluestacks is using to refer to the GamePop, which is “Netflix for games.” Some examples of such games which will be available on the GamePop are Jetpack Joyride, Talking Tom 2, and Kids Shape Puzzle. According to Bluestacks, the games have a total value of more than $200.

Meanwhile, Bluestacks has not revealed what kind of hardware it is using on the GamePop. The company, however, assures that the games will match, or even top, the speed of high-quality smartphones. It is likewise working on a controller that is purportedly unlike those available in the market today.

GamePop is scheduled to be released in the winter, according to its official website.

via androidspin, bluestacks