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Wikipad gaming tablet launches in the US, soon to reach the UK

US start-up Wikipad has officially launched its Android-based gaming tablet in the US, and hinted at plans for a UK release later this year - but hasn't quite managed to deliver on its original promise.

The Wikipad was originally conceived as a 10.1in Android tablet with detachable control system that mimicked the controller of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. As well as being able to use the device as a standard Android tablet, the detachable controller was to provide dual analogue sticks, buttons and a directional pad - giving gamers a more comfortable way to play games on the device.

While the Wikipad has now launched, it has suffered something of a shrinkage: the original plan to launch a 10.1in device has been put on hold, in favour of a more portable 7in tablet - but retaining a more compact, redesigned detachable game controller.

"We wanted to get Wikipad into our community’s hands and what we found was that the smaller 7in form factor just seemed right," claimed Fraser Townley, Wikipad's president of sales, of the shift to a more compact form factor. "The smaller frame delivers an aggressive price while keeping the same amazing specs."

As with the planned 10.1in model, the 7in Wikipad features a 1,280×800 display using In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology for improved viewing angles and image clarity, with 16GB of storage and Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor. The tablet includes access to Nvidia's own TegraZone, which showcases games and apps specifically enhanced for the Tegra processor, along with Google Play, PlayStation Mobile and cloud gaming functionality from OnLive. Not all games will support the controller, however, with developers needing to add specific support for the system to their titles.

Wikipad has confirmed that it still plans to launch a larger 10.1in model at some point in the future, while also promising a UK release for both versions. "Further to today's announcement I can confirm that Wikipad will be available in many territories outside of the US, including of course the UK," Townley explained at a post-launch briefing. "We've had great feedback on the 7in version and everyone who’s been hands-on with it can’t wait, so as soon as we have street dates and prices we’ll be the first to let everyone know."

Meanwhile, the Wikipad 7in goes on sale today in the US priced at $249.99 (around £159 excluding taxes.)

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