Ion Audio iCade review: Ion Audio iCade

  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The retro-style Ion Audio iCade adds Bluetooth arcade controls to your iPad, which easily trumps onscreen virtual joysticks.

The Bad For a novelty item, the iCade is pricey. For now it only works with Atari's classic game app, and some of the Atari games play awkwardly on a joystick.

The Bottom Line If your iPad gaming tastes run to classic Atari console and arcade games, the Ion Audio iCade is a fun nostalgic trip. Otherwise wait for more compatible games to be released.

Editors' Top Picks

Gaming on the iPad (or any slate-style tablet) has one serious drawback: the lack of physical controls. For some games, such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja, touch controls are perfectly suited. But many iPad games attempt to emulate gamepads, joysticks, and other traditional control schemes by way of onscreen virtual controls. Lacking any kind of tactile feedback, and often covering up part of the screen, it's not an ideal solution.

The iCade attempts to correct this problem by offering a joystick and eight buttons, laid out in a classic arcade format inside a miniaturized arcade cabinet. The product actually started life as an April Fool's prank on the novelty retail site ThinkGeek.com, but overwhelming consumer interest prodded the company to bring the $99 iCade to life (much like the Tauntaun sleeping bag, another ThinkGeek mockup that became a real product). The actual hardware is made by Ion Audio, a company best known for its plastic USB turntables and high-end Rock Band video game drum kits.

As pictured in the original April Fool's prank mockups, the iCade acts as a cabinet/stand for your iPad or iPad 2. The unit arrives in kit form, with some assembly required. The side and front/back panels are made of particleboard printed with retro graphics, and the kit comes with a page of Ikea-like wordless instructions, along with a handful of hex screws and a tiny allen wrench.

Construction was simple, but the front and side panels took a little elbow grease to fit together, and we managed to crack a plastic tab along the way. Our unit is the ThinkGeek version of the iCade, which has the same wood grain and color rainbow graphics as the original April Fool's mockup. If ordered directly from Ion (for the same $99) the graphics look much more generic.

Editors' Top Picks

 

ARTICLE DISCUSSION

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Ion Audio iCade

Part Number: ICADE Released: May. 23, 2011

Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 23, 2011
  • CE Product Type web tablet game cabinet
About The Author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.