Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Tablet accessories

Presenting the gems in portable entertainment.

Page 7 of 12

Joystick-IT tablet arcade stick, by ThinkGeek

This add-on attachment includes a small suction cup that you attach to the screen of any touch-sensitive tablet or smartphone (such as an iPad, iPhone or other such device). It creates a physical joystick that you can use with games or apps that include an on-screen joystick, allowing for easier gameplay, especially for action-oriented games.

Many of the games I've played on a tablet fall a bit short with the on-screen joystick, because your finger or thumb tend to move around on the display, and it's hard to keep your attention focused on the on-screen joystick rather than the action on the screen. On a game like Madden football, for example, this can mean the difference between dodging a tackler and running it in for the big touchdown. So, in theory, having a physical joystick means you don't have to worry so much - if your thumb is going to the right, the player on screen should be doing pretty much the same thing.

In using this device, however, it wasn't as effective as I'd hope. The device attaches via the small suction cup on top of the on-screen joystick area, but it's still pretty wobbly, and the joystick moved around more than I wanted. I used this on a Mortal Kombat game and a Spider-man game, and had mixed results. On Mortal Kombat, which uses a pretty large virtual joystick, the arcade stick worked fine, other than the occasional movement of the suction cup. On the Spider-man game, the smaller virtual joystick made it not work - I couldn't move the character around in the correct direction. Even licking the bottom of the suction cup to make it stick better didn't work, the stick actually slid around more when I did that.

For less-intensive games that might not require much joystick movement (such as classic arcade games like Galaga or Pac-man), this might be a nice stocking stuffer - but for action games, it's a tough sell.

Cool Yule rating: 2 stars
Price: $18
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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