Kyocera K500 Gamepad
Although many come with games, cell phones aren't considered to be hard-core gaming devices. Beyond a small display, a cell phone's controls are designed for dialing and not for maneuvering shapes into place while playing Tetris. Yet Kyocera is aiming to change the latter hurdle with the Kyocera K500 Gamepad. The K500--at $30, designed with help from gaming-PC maker Alienware--looks just like a typical game controller, except you snap in your or Slider Remix phone and blast away with the thumb-friendlier buttons. Unfortunately, the sloppy movement pad made us sitting ducks for our virtual enemies, and the odd positioning controls didn't do us any favors. Still, hard-core gamers might appreciate holding the ergonomically sound K500 while chasing high scores, but casual chatters are advised to steer clear.
The black and gray Kyocera K500 Gamepad looks and feels about the same as your garden-variety gaming controller, right down to its batlike shape. You hold the Gamepad--measuring 5 by 3 by 1.75 inches and weighing about 5 ounces--by the rubberized grips, its "wings," which flank the slot for the plastic handset holster. Once you snap your cell phone into place, a short data cable connects the phone to the controller. The whole setup felt comfortable in our hands, with the eight-way controller pad on the left and a set of four navigation keys on the right, all within easy reach of our thumbs. The phone also stayed in place securely, despite some shakes to jiggle it off.
We tested the Kyocera K500 Gamepad with the Kyocera Slider Sonic, and while the combination certainly drew admiring stares from young passersby, we weren't too impressed with the actual gameplay. As we patrolled the dark corners of Jamdat's Doom, looking for creatures to frag, we grew frustrated quickly by the imprecise left-side controller pad, which kept turning us in circles when we wanted to go straight. We also missed having a Fire button on the top of the controller by our pointer finger, and since most mobile games don't let you map controls to different keys, the functions of the four right-side navigation keys were less than intuitive. In fact, we often found ourselves using the K500 as a holder and punching our phone's keys rather than the controller's--never a good sign.
Kyocera promises 18 hours of gameplay and 30 hours of standby time from the K500's three AAA batteries.