Gaming Conclusion

In situations where a game is available in both the iOS app store as well as NVIDIA's Tegra Zone, NVIDIA generally delivers a comparable gaming experience to what you get on the iPad. In some cases you even get improved visual quality as well. The iPad's GPU performance advantage just isn't evident in those cases—likely because the bulk of iOS devices out there still use far weaker GPUs. That's effectively a software answer to a hardware challenge, but it's true.

NVIDIA isn't completely vindicated however. In Apple's corner you have Infinity Blade 2 and the upcoming Infinity Blade Dungeons, both of which appear to offer a significant visual advantage over the best of the best that's available on Android today. There are obvious business complexities that are the cause of this today, but if you want to play those games you need to buy an iPad.

The final point is this: Tegra 3 can deliver a good gaming experience on Android, we've already demonstrated that. But as a GPU company NVIDIA should know that it isn't about delivering the minimum acceptable experience, but rather pushing the industry forward. Just last week NVIDIA launched a $500 GPU that is overkill for the vast majority of users. But NVIDIA built the GeForce GTX 680 to move the industry forward, and it's a shame that it hasn't done so in the mobile SoC space thus far.

Controller Support: An Android Advantage

With Honeycomb and subsequent versions of Android, Google baked in wired and wireless controller support into the OS. NVIDIA worked with game developers to ensure proper support for these controllers made it into their games and as a result there are a number of titles available through Tegra Zone that offer support for external gamepads. Logitech's Wireless Gamepad F710 comes with a USB nano receiver that can be plugged into the Transformer Prime's dock. It's using this controller that I played Shadowgun, GTA 3 and Riptide. Out of the three, the ability to use a gamepad made GTA 3 much more enjoyable (and it made me much better at the game as well).

Although many casual Android/iOS games do just fine with touch, some are certainly better suited for some sort of a controller. While controller support in Android in its infancy at best, it's more than iOS currently offers. I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen. As smartphones and tablets come close to equalling the performance of current game consoles, I feel like the controller problem must be addressed.

There's also the chance that physical controls will lose out entirely with these devices. A friend of mine in the game industry once said that we are too quick to forget how superior input devices don't always win. The keyboard + mouse is a much more precise setup for a first person shooter, but much FPS development these days is targeted at gamepads instead. The same could eventually be true for touch based devices, but it's too early to tell. Until then I'm hoping we see continued controller support in Android and hopefully that'll put some pressure on Apple to do the same. It is an important consideration for the future of gaming on these platforms.

A5X vs. Tegra 3 in the Real World WiFi, GPS & AirPlay
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  • BSMonitor - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Common might have been the wrong word. But for the masses of users(mostly consumer space), internet browsing is probably the most frequent task. But overall time spent on the devices, I would guess movies/videos are #1. Reply
  • mavere - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    The iPad's h.264 decoder has always been especially efficient.

    If Apple's battery life claim is 10 hours, I'd expect 11-12 hours non-streaming video playback.
    Reply
  • Openmindeo - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    In the second page it says that the ipad 1 has a memory of 256GB .

    The entire article was fine.
    Regards.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the correction!

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • isoJ - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Good points about the future and a clear demand for low-power bandwidth. Isn't PS Vita already shipping with Wide-IO? Reply
  • BSMonitor - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    I only have an iphone so I have not played around with the home sharing and all that in iTunes.

    Can they communicate locally via WiFi for Movies, Music, etc(without a PC or iCloud)?? My impression is that they must be connected to iTunes or iCloud to access/transfer media content.

    i.e. I have a 64GB iPhone 4, and load it with 20 movies and GB's of music. And say a 16GB iPad. Can I transfer a movie from the iPhone to iPad with it going to the PC/Mac or iCloud first?
    Reply
  • darkcrayon - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    You can transfer movies if you have a movie player app that supports it, several apps support file transfers over wifi (for example GoodReader can copy any of its files to GoodReader running on another device). You could use GoodReader and similar apps instead of Music to play songs, though it's not as well integrated into the OS (but songs will still play and switch in the background, etc).

    You can not transfer things you've previously loaded into the Music or Videos (ie the built in "Apple apps") between two iPads though.
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Thanks. I figured as much. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    On page 11 you say:
    "Perhaps this is why Apple forbids the application from running on a first generation iPad, with only one CPU core."

    I don't think the single CPU core is the primary reason why iPhoto isn't supported on the first gen iPad. Afterall, the same single core A4 iPhone 4 support iPhoto. What's more, the iPhone 4's A4 is clocked lower than the first gen iPad so CPU performance isn't the primary reason. RAM appears to be the main concern with iPhoto since every supported device has at least 512MB of RAM.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Very good point, updated :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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