The upcoming Wikipad tablet, first spotted back in January at CES, now has an official release date and price. The 10.1-inch Android handheld gaming system will be available for $499 on October 31. Starting September 7, the system will be available to preorder through game retailer GameStop, although the Wikipad is expected to be available through other retailers as well.
Wikipad is part of a growing trend of independently developed game consoles outside of the major Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft axis. Ouya, an Android-powered set-top box, recently made a big splash on Kickstarter, raising millions of dollars from individual gamers, while streaming-game service OnLive released a set-top box last year, and used a standalone Android app to bring its games to handheld devices.
Powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the Wikipad can download games from Nvidia's Tegra Zone store, Google Play, and the PlayStation Mobile platform. Unlike other Android tablets that can also play a wide variety of games, the Wikipad's unique feature is its custom handheld controller dock, which adds two analog sticks, a directional pad, and four buttons -- all of which makes it look a lot like a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 controller.
Both Apple's iPad and Amazon's 9-inch 4G Kindle Fire HD also cost $499, but the three major living-room consoles, as well as Sony's PlayStation Vita and Nintendo's 3DS, all cost less (as will Nintendo's Wii U when its price is announced next week). The Wikipad is an interesting concept, and its physical game controller add-on is something long overdue, but the system will have to offer a lot to convince gamers to spend that much.