ION iCade Mobile is the intersection of Retro and the Future of Gaming

I've written before about the iCade retro arcade cabinet for the iPad, and again when I saw a preview of the mobile version for the iPhone and iPod touch, at the Consumer Electronics Show, but I've finally had a chance to play with that mobile version, and get some hands on time.

It is a neat, solid, and well-built solution that gives you diamond pad joystick and button controls for over 100 iOS games and counting. And it looks like a portable Sony game system!

ION has done some solid work here. Your iOS device fits snugly in the rubberized casing, and can rotate to portrait or landscape position as the game dictates. Unlike with many other accessories, you don't need an adapter for different versions of iPods or iPhones. This can also be a bit of a problem. You don't have easy access to the sleep or volume buttons, so set the volume level where you want it, before inserting the device in the cradle.

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The iCade Mobile connects over Bluetooth by pretending to be a keyboard. Because of how iOS pairs, you need to enter a numeric code, so the 12 buttons or directions on the joystick correspond to numbers or the enter key. It's a bit confusing, and the tiny embossed numbers don't do much to help. Also, since iOS will think there is a regular keyboard attached, the virtual keyboard won't come up, so you can't type to search for an app or enter your name on a leaderboard, etc.

There's a lot to like about the iCade Mobile and the base of compatible apps ( is growing, making it more attractive day by day.

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Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP,,, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.