Hands-on with Nyko's pint-sized wireless Android tablet gamepad

Today's dual-core and quad-core tablets are quite powerful devices. Many Tegra 3-powered Android tablets can run games that rival PC games from five years ago. Shadowgun, anyone? But tablet controls suck, badly. Nyko's cute PlayPad controller gives players a better way to control their games — with a mini controller.

To start, the PlayPad is tiny. We absolutely adore tiny gadgets. For some reason, teeny gadgets make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That, and as fans of the future, any kind of significant shrinkage impresses us.

Nyko let us play with the bluetooth PlayPad briefly and we liked what we saw. The controller has a rubbery matte finish to it, a pair of slide pads (they're just like the Nintendo 3DS's Circle Pad), A/B/X/Y buttons that felt a little too stiff to the press, a roomy D-pad, a pair of shoulder buttons and a pair of tiny triggers. Man, did we love the triggers. Despite their size, they've got a surprisingly good amount of give when pressed.

Using Nyko's Playground app, gamers can map a game's controls to any button they want. Immediately, Shadowgun, which is essentially a Gears of War clone for smartphones and tablets controlled much better than with touchscreen controls.

Nyko's releasing the PlayPad because it sees tablets as an important portion of the gaming market that'll continue to get more "core-type" games. And really, when you attach an Android tablet to an HDTV, and then sync a PlayPad to the tablet, you're basically playing a console.

Pricing hasn't been finalized yet, but Nyko tells us that the PlayPad should sell for under $50 when it's released. That's including a foldable tablet stand and a storage case.

Posted on location at E3 in Los Angeles, California. All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.

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