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Duo Pinball review review: The iPad peripheral no one needs

A $60 way to turn your iPad into a pinball machine? Duo Pinball isn't worth your money, even if you're a pinball fanatic. Here's why.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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2 min read

So, what types of iPad peripherals get my goat? Ones that have limited use, cost too much, and collect dust. Discover Bay's Duo Pinball is the most vexing, ridiculous type of "app-cessory" there is, one that gives a bad name to the whole category and is precisely the type of plastic junk that could ruin an industry. Allow me to explain.

Duo Games Duo Pinball
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Duo Pinball review

The Good

Well, <b>Duo Games Duo Pinball</b> works as advertised with the Pinball Duo HD Collection app.

The Bad

It doesn't work with any other games, costs a ridiculous amount, and feels low-rent.

The Bottom Line

Pinball Duo is a cute idea with little purpose for anyone, even hard-core pinball fans, especially at its high price. It's a one-trick plastic pony for one app.
Sarah Tew/CNET

First of all, I love pinball. I also love pinball apps. Sounds like the Duo Pinball would be right up my alley, right? The plastic Bluetooth device is essentially an iPad stand with physical flipper buttons and a spring-loaded plunger. Your iPad slots in and locks into place with little side levers, and stays in portrait mode. Pair with Bluetooth, and Duo Pinball's ready to go.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Except it isn't, because of all those great pinball game apps in the App Store, only one of them works with the Duo Pinball: GameProm's Pinball HD Collection. It's an excellent app, and features 11 very good video game pinball tables, but it's absurd that this limited-use device can't work with other games like Pinball Arcade or many, many other retro and classic pinball titles. That relegates the Duo Pinball to the same novelty bin as Discovery Bay's other game accessory, the Atari Arcade.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This would be an OK device for a novelty purchase, except for the fact that it costs $60. Yes, $60. The Duo Pinball unlocks five free tables in the Pinball HD Collection app, a nice bonus, but hardly a huge value.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even worse, the reaction speed of the buttons isn't as fast as simply tapping onscreen; that Bluetooth delay makes the Duo Pinball feel sluggish even for the one game it's designed for.

What's next? An accessory just for Temple Run? This reminds me of the plastic junk I used to accumulate for console games, but somehow worse. Don't get the Pinball Duo unless it costs $10 or less: it's big, it's bulky, and believe me, you can play pinball just fine on an iPad using your fingers.

Duo Games Duo Pinball
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Duo Pinball review

Score Breakdown

Design 4Features 3Performance 3