Best phone and tablet for retrogamers

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Matt Barton
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Since everybody here seems to know more about this than I do, I thought I'd make it a forum topic, collect the info, do the fact-checking, and turn it into a blog post.

The question is which phone and tablet are best for retrogaming? Here's some features I think most retrogamers would like to see:

1. Emulation options (the more systems emulated the better, Commodore 64, NES, etc.) as accurate as possible
2. No real need to jailbreak and/or violate warranties (i.e., most of this can be done through official stores or channels)
3. Controller options (USB ports, bluetooth, or infrared for joysticks and gamepad possibilities?)
4. Video output so you can play games on your TV or monitor
5. official support for lots of classics
6. online scoreboards, communities, etc. so you can brag about your scores
7. removable media so you don't have to download or stream everything
8. multiplayer support, such as options for two controllers

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Bill Loguidice
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Purer Gaming Tablet

This is what I always thought Sony should have done instead of the Vita: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/hands-on-with-the-wikip... . That's the only way a gaming tablet would have worked, if it came from a big name and could have a slight ($100) subsidy.

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Bill Loguidice
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Emulation
Paul H wrote:

Android all the way. iOS can do all those things but you need to jailbreak your device. Windows devices are not popular enough to get good support from the emulator community.

The other issue is if Microsoft will even allow them in the store. Apple generally doesn't if they're "open".

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Paul H
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I agree with Bill

Android all the way. iOS can do all those things but you need to jailbreak your device. Windows devices are not popular enough to get good support from the emulator community.

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Bill Loguidice
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Windows Phone and Tablet analysis
Matt Barton wrote:

Are the windows phones and tablets nonstarters?

My opinion is that the Windows Phone 8 devices (out soon - 7.x is already obsolete) and Windows RT (Surface) tablets are going to be excellent, because that interface is already excellent. However, you're talking a far distant third in the marketplace (far, far distant) to the point where it's not even on the radar. iOS generally gets supports first, then Android, then, maybe, just maybe, eventually, there might be Windows Phone support. That is doubtful to change on the phone side.

Now the tablet is interesting, but it's important to keep in mind there are two different tablets, Windows RT, which is Surface, and Surface Pro, which is the same as a Windows 8 laptop. Surface is the iPad and Android tablet equivalent and is locked exclusively to Microsoft's app store. There is no desktop and no way to add your own apps outside of that store. If it's not there, you're out of luck. This is the same thing on the iPad side of course, but with the iPad, you have virtually infinite apps and are assured more are coming every day. Right now, there's not really anything on the Surface side. These will be out soon, though we don't know firm pricing and won't know how well these perform and battery life until closer to release.

Surface Pro on the other hand runs the same version of Windows 8 that desktops and laptops will run (and of course the same apps that run on Surface). It has a desktop. You can put your own software on there. Essentially, it's a tablet-sized/tablet form factor laptop. That's intriguing, but we still don't know things like price, performance, battery life, etc., which could all be compromised in such a form factor. Even at $800, it may be worth it, but we just won't know until these ship. These will be out in another 3 months.

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Matt Barton
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Are the windows phones and

Are the windows phones and tablets nonstarters?

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Bill Loguidice
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I don't think there's really

I don't think there's really much of a choice, here. If you want emulation, you need to go with pure Android (not a variant, like Amazon) on both form factors. While you have official emulators on iOS - and good ones at that - in most cases you can't add your own ROMs or anything, so it doesn't meet your criteria. iOS at the moment also has support for the iCade and iCade compatible controls, but not really much else, and obviously not every game supports it. Again, if you want to use Bluetooth controls (even Wii controls), you need to go with an Android phone and tablet. Further, Android is the only mobile OS that supports OnLive and also Sony's PlayStation games (a growing library), so there's that as well. With all of that said, you will need to do some customization even on the Android side to meet all your points, but it's not quite the same as jailbreaking the iOS stuff...

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