Feeling left out because of all the iPad news? Here are some gadgets that can help iPhone and iPod touch users feel like an iPad owner at a fraction of the cost.
First, one of the nice features of the iPad is the bezel. Yes, many folks complained about it, post announcement but before they actually got their hands on one. The complaint was how wasteful the untouchable, black border was. But once you use it, you can see how it's important to be able to grip the device without being detected as a "touch" on the multitouch device. So for some games, this bezel makes a big, positive difference.
Enter Tunewear's GameHandle. This device, for the iPhone and iPod touch (a single device supports both), cradles your i-device in a rubberized case that is patently similar to the original PlayStation 2. You can maintain a good grip, thanks to the coating, and your fingers won't obstruct the view of your game. As long as you can control the game with either thumb, you should be in good shape. There are vents so you should be able to hear sounds from the game, although the volume buttons and headphone jacks are indeed obstructed, as is the dock connector. I spoke with the manufacturer at the Consumer Electronics Show and we both acknowledged that a great upgrade would be to add battery capability to the otherwise vacant space inside the handle, offering added value and making it practical for extended use. But for now, this is one way to maximize the visible screen space while holding your device comfortably, without spending $500 or more on an iPad!
Another way to game more effectively on the small screen is to use a stylus such as the Pogo from Ten One Design. I've written about them before, but now that the iPad is out, they are worth a second mention. My fingers often obstruct key visuals on the screen. By moving my hands "off-screen", so to speak, and using a thin stylus for control, I can see more of the screen and have greater control. And when you do upgrade to an iPad, the stylus could prove even more useful for certain utilities.
Speaking of games and upgrading to the iPad, one of my favorite new games is Babo Crash from Playbrains. Everyone in my family, young and old, boys and girls, likes Chuzzle, and Babo Crash is a more sophisticated take on that kind of game. Babo Crash has great graphics, a nice soundtrack, gravity/accelerometer integration, and the characters have some "personality" (pirates, devils, etc., always blowing things up or vomiting) that make it appeal to boys more than Bejeweled does!
Babo Crash on the iPhone is an example of one of those games that has such small details that I find my fingers obstructing the view, so using a stylus makes it a little easier. But what I really like is that when running the exact same app on my iPad, I am treated to an iPad-specific version, with larger more detailed graphics as opposed to just a scaled up, blocky version. Many developers are using the iPad as an opportunity to re-sell new iPad-only versions of their games, and charge even more than the iPhone version. It's nice to see that Babo Crash supports all devices and still only costs $0.99.
Finally, at least for the next few months, whipping out an iPad on the plane will probably draw some attention. If you want to enjoy large screen movies and also attract a crowd, don't forget the TV Hat! You'll get to view movies larger than the iPhone screen, thanks to the built-in magnifier, and people will certainly stare! Trust me, I wore mine on the trip from CES in Las Vegas to New York, and while plenty of people (including flight attendants) asked my traveling companion what the deal was, I was blissfully watching my movies!
If you know of games or gear that helps the iPad-less not feel left out, let us know in the Comments section! Thanks!