Monday, July 27, 2015

Tuvva Power Play - Gaming Tablet Review

The Tuvva Power Play is quite possibly the cheapest gaming tablet on the market. Priced at $120, is it worth the cost? I'm here to share my views.

To start off, yes the Tuvva is very cheap. You'd be hard pressed to find any Android tablet in the same price range, let alone one with built in controls. You even get the option of black or white, which it more than you can say for most of the top of the line tablets.

Initial impressions of the tablet are good. It has nice feeling buttons, and a good size display. The Tuvva has analog pads more similar to the PSP and the 3DS vs. full analog sticks. These are a bit wieghty, but they work fine.

But once you start using the device, you can see where they saved money. The first thing you will notice, it has a TFT screen. TFT technology was considered old 10 years ago. What this means, is if you tilt the tablet while playing, the screen will look bleached out or too dark to see anything. The Tuvva also has the cheapest and saddest little speaker I've ever seen fitted to a device. It's mono, and very wispy in power. Thankfully it has a good working bluetooth and audio jack, so if you want to use headphones or external speakers, it works fine.

The Power Play ironically isn't what you'd call very powerful either. It's only rocking a dual core 1.6gb processor with only 1gb of ram. It also only has a total of 8gb of flash memory, with only 1gb setup for the OS and applications. Thankfully with androids ability to store most of your app data on the on board SD card, this hasn't affected me too much. It's rocking a quad core 400MP4 graphic processor, but the screen resolution is only 1024x600. I do want to mention, that if you are using this tablet to emulate old games (as it was designed for), the low resolution almost helps.

You can tell they used somewhat lower grade plastic as well. When this really shows is when you use the device in the dark, you get a fair amount of light bleeding through the plastic. Now, the tablet doesn't feel fragile, which is a plus. I've actually been using mine fairly regularly for almost a year now without any major issues. And because it used Joypads instead of full on Joysticks, it's much more portable without having to worry about the stick getting screwed up.

Everything else is pretty standard. Multi-Touch screen which works adequately, front and rear facing camera's (which are actually really bad), gyro sensors, WiFi, Bluetooth and pretty much anything else you come to expect from any android device these days. It also has a built in HDMI port along with support for up to a 64gb Micro SD card. The battery life is impressive as well. Under full use, it will last 6-8 hours without a charge.

Tuvva decided to set its tablet to use a non-upgradeable Android Jelly Bean. At first I was irritated by this until after using it a bit, I figured out why. Jelly Bean is possibly Android's most stable operating system, and they wanted to keep many of the bugs from crashing while you're gaming. Over all the OS is pretty bullet proof.

There is one re-occuring glitch in the OS however. The 'Home' bar on the bottom (the bar that give you the 'Home', 'Menu' and 'Back' options) will disapear and can't be brought back without a restart. Thankfully this is relatively minor as most of these buttons are also available in the physical controls.

The Tuvva also has one built in feature that is fantastic. The ability to map the physical controls to on screen functions. This way, if you're playing a game that doesn't have mappable keys (I.E. most Android games), you can set it up so the buttons will interact with the on-screen controls. It's easy to set up and will retain and saved controls for whatever program it was setup for. It's also one of the few gaming tablets that has the option for an R3 and L3. They aren't connected to the Joypad like the Playstation controls, but placed just below.

Even though the power plant in the Tuvva is a bit lack-luster, it actually holds it's own when it comes to emulation. It seems to be able to play much of the same games and devices that my Quad core LG tablet can play with about the same amount of success. The trick is to not force it to multi-task and it'll do just fine. I've emulated as low as Gameboy games to as high as PSP and Sega Dreamcast without much issue. And pretty much any android emulated apps have options for button mapping. With some programs that don't have full mapping functionality (I.E. Reicast), you can map what you can and then assign whatever buttons you want to for the on screen functions.

I wanted to make a special point to the customer service at the Tuvva Department. I had dropped the first tablet I received cracking one of the shoulder buttons, and they exchanged it, no questions asked and for no money. I had a new tablet in a little over a week (hey, shipping from China, that's impressive).

Great with emulation (why you're buying this tablet to begin with)
Full functioning analog Joy Pads
Great portability (Slim and light weight)
Full functioning Android Tablet
Screen mappable functions
Great Customer Service
Expandable to 64gb Micro SD card
Long battery life

TFT screen
Low Resolution
Cheap and crappy speaker
Slightly cheap build quality
Low amount of on board flash memory
Slow processing power
'Home' bar glitch

Overall Impressions:
The Tuvva Power Play isn't what I would call a high end device. As long as you take the 'You get what you pay for' mantra to heart, you won't be disappointed. You won't find it's equal for the price, and it does what it sets out to do, provide a good and portable emulation device, very well. If you're in the market for a gaming tablet, the Tuvva Power Play is well worth a second look.

iPega 9023 Review

For us who like our emulated gaming, we're always on the look out for devices that help with this.

There's something satisfying about having those clicking buttons and the ever elusive Joy Stick.

The iPega is a BlueTooth controller that is adjustable so it can be used with small 4" Smart Phones to anything up to a 10" Tablet. It's able to 'hug' whatever device you want to game with which gives it better versatility than anything I've seen yet. And as one of the cheapest BlueTooth controllers on the market, it's well worth a look.

I do want to note, this review is regarding Android only. I am not an iOS user, and have no plans on doing an iOS review.

First impressions of the controller were mixed. The buttons and D-pad have a nice feel to them, giving a very satisfying click. They're not weighted too heavily, but don't have a cheap feel either. The Joystick also has a quality feel to it.

The mixed feelings come from the over-all feel of the device. The iPega is light, very light. Lightness is a double edge sword. Not adding weight to a possibly already weighty tablet, good. Lightness on the verge of being flimsy and fragile, bad. When you first look at the controller, it feels like the latter option. (I will have a segment later on about how the device has held up after a month of solid use).

The use of the device and it's functionality is where it shines.

I do want to point out there are a lot of reviews about bad instructions and not being able to get the controller to pair. I have not had any of these issues. On the contrary, I have paired my iPega with 5 different devices, ranging from 2 phones (and LG and Samsung), and 3 Tablets (LG, Samsung and Lenovo); All without any fault. I didn't find the directions to be particularly difficult to understand either. It's possible the later models might have improved directions.

Fitting the iPega for your device is simple. There is a spring slider, and a locking slider. You set the locking slider to just a bit more narrow than your device, and then you use the spring to grip it. They have a further flip-out clip on the bottom for more security, but it's not overly necessary in my opinion. The grip does seem to block both the power port and audio jack on most phones and tablets. However, I've found the iPega grips well enough that I just slide my tablet up or down until I have access to the needed port(s) and continue playing. I haven't had any trouble with this at all.

There are 4 modes of pairing: A, B, X & Y. All have the controller function a little differently. My recommendation, just use the controller in 'X' mode, as that's 'Controller' mode and the only mode where the Joysticks have full functionality. To pair the device, you just press whatever mode you want on the action keys and the 'home' button. This places the controller in 'Search' mode. Once in search mode, you turn on the BlueTooth search on whatever device you want to pair with, once they see each other, you can pair them. Once paired, there's no further setup. There is a certain amount of control over the OS, and the buttons can be mapped in any program that allows for it (and I've yet to find an android emulator that doesn't have some sort button mapping). Once you're set up, paired and mapped, you're ready to game.

I've used the iPega on a myriad of emulators, ranging from Game-boy, N64, PSX, and even PSP and Dreamcast. Many will even auto-detect the controller and set up the mapping for you. The only real issue I've ran into is some emulators that can't see some of the controls. This is more of a compatibility issue and can't be blamed on the iPega as much as it is the emulators fault, as all the other emulators have no problems with recognition. Even better, most emulators allow for extra functions to be mapped (for those who like to utilize savestates, fast forwards and all the other lovely emulation features), these can all be mapped to the controller for easy cheating.

The controller functionality is nice too. As stated above, the buttons and D-Pad all have a nice feel to them with a satisfying click. I've yet to have any malfunctions, and this is after a month of pretty solid use. One oddity is the Joysticks and the dead zones. what's odd about it, is it seems to very a bit from one device to another. I pair is with my LG G-Pad, and there's almost no dead zone at all, but when I pair it with my Galaxy S3 Phone, and my Lenovo tablet and there's a noticeable dead zone (still acceptable, but larger than the tablet). As I primarily use my LG tablet for gaming, this isn't an issue for me, but be forewarned, you may deal with larger dead zones depending on what device you're using. I've yet to see anything that's a deal breaker however, and everything is still plenty usable. I also wanted to add, full functioning L3 and R3 buttons built into the Joysticks (for all you Ape Escape fans out there).

One of the most impressive aspects is the battery life. Under heavy use (and this is assuming you're using your phone / tablet for gaming at the time), the iPega will last about twice as long as any of my devices. and from a complete dead battery, it takes about an hour, maybe 2 at most to charge to full. And it is completely playable while plugged in, so you can continue playing while the controller is charging up. It takes a standard micro USB that is now the most common chargers for android phones now.

If I had to make one complaint, it would be it's mobility. Yes, the iPega is both very light and collapsible, but even fully collapsed, it's actually quite large. It's main issue is it doesn't lay flat. While using it, it's very comfortable, as it's mimics the Playstation controls in both layout and design. This makes it a bit of an awkward shape, and you're at risk of breaking it if you pack it tightly. I do want to point out that this is a somewhat minor issue as long as you take care in packing it correctly, and it's somewhat awkward shape makes it very comfortable to use.

Easy to use
Easy to pair and setup
Quality buttons and Joystick
Full functioning analog Joystick
Great selection of buttons, including a few extras built in for mapping purposes
Expands to allow play from a 4.5" phone up to a 10" Tablet
Light Weight
Ergonomic Design
Great battery life

Not very portable
Light weight might mean fragile
Seems to have slight variance between devices
Some compatibility issues with some games (Not really the iPega's fault however)

To Sum up, the iPega controller is surprising, in both quality and functionality. It's held up with some pretty rigorous gaming for well over a month without a single hiccup, broken button or quality issue. It might seem a bit on the light side, but it isn't as fragile as it seems. It's not the most portable of controllers, but it's extremely comfortable to use, even for the extended gaming sessions. And for something so affordable (I was able to find it for $23 on 'Geek'), it's really worth the small output to get a great gaming experience.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Greetings to the world

Hello all. I wanted to invite you to my blog about anything to do with classic and vintage gaming. Here, I will discuss retro games, consoled and even modern ways to play them. As this blog is in it's infancy, posts will be sporadic and somewhat random. Once I get the initial posts and glitches out of the way, I will do what I can to keep this blog regularly updated.