While many of us use our tablets and smartphones for a wide variety of practical purposes, a significant minority of us are committed casino fans. The rest of my family occupy their devices productively with astronomy apps, reading apps and of course Angry Birds.
However for those of us who like to turn a small profit while wiling away those hours on the train or bus, finding a trustworthy and reliable casino app is a necessary challenge. A small fortune isn’t always guaranteed of course, unless you start with a large fortune and proceed to fritter it all away playing Online Roulette.
The smartphone and tablet app market is pretty mature now but it hasn’t always been that way. I always felt that online casino websites were a little slow to the app market, something they were most certainly not back in the mid-1990s when internet connections became stable and fast enough to cope with multiplayer gaming and the exchange of money. Perhaps not surprisingly the apps that made to the platform first were free ones. Zynga Poker is still the giant in the free provision of Texas Hold’em although some industry watchers are convinced Zynga will eventually introduce a real money option.
Others provide the player with free Internet Roulette, free slots and others. If the games are one step too far for you at the moment, there are also numerous guides out there on every aspect of casino games strategy. Want some Roulette Tipps? Easy. How about Roulette Rules in German? No problem.
We don’t want to name any particular casino apps by any one company here; we like to stay impartial. However most of the main online casino providers now offer some form of mobile platform on which you play favourite game and hopefully make a little money. The Apple Store and Google Play (formerly the Marketplace) both allow the prospective app downloader a decent search facility. You can also check out the top 25 in the appropriate categories. You might want to find the app which corresponds with the online casino of which you are already a member or you might want to try something new.
In either case always read the reviews which accompany the download procedure. Some apps are without doubt better then others; some will also be free and some you may have to pay for. Don’t be too put off by having to shell out a few bucks though – you usually get what you pay for.
We’ll leave aside the question for the moment of whether there is actually a market for the PS Vita in the era of the smartphone, the tablet and free/cheap apps and just appreciate the device for what it is – a dedicated handheld gaming device with access to the PSN Network and Wi-Fi/3G connectivity.
We’ve been here before of course without the networking bells and whistles. Nintendo has something of a successful track record in the handheld gaming arena although even the current 3DS is no match for the power and capability of the Vita. For those more mature gamers, devices such as the Atari Lynx still linger in the memory. Sony has some form here as well – the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was the Vita’s predecessor.
So what to make of the Vita? It’s powered by the ARM Cortex and enough memory to cope with any game that can be chucked at it. It has a front and rear camera and a capacitive 5 inch touchscreen which displays colours and graphics beautifully.
From a gaming point of view the really important inclusion is the PlayStation style controls on either side of the screen. I’ve always been a fan of the PlayStation console controls over the Xbox style controls and they’re ported to the Vita really well. The twin joysticks, directional controls and iconic ‘shape’ buttons are a welcome sight. Is here also that the Vita really displays its superiority over smartphones as a gaming device – the awkwardness of one’s thumb or finger covering up bits of the smartphone screen is unavoidable.
So will it sell? At the moment it looks like good news for Sony; by 26th February around 1.2 million had sold around the world (since the Japanese launch on 17th December 2011) along with 2 million software titles. The initial enthusiastic take up has been tempered by a drop off in sales but Sony looks to be on its way to selling between 12 and 13 million devices by the end of the year which is a healthy number.
The big question which remains is whether gamers will be willing to pay traditionally high software prices for a better gaming experience or whether free and cheap smartphone apps will win the day.
It’s very nearly February and that means the unveiling of the next iteration of Apple’s iPad – the iPad 3. It will then be released for sale in March, prompting late night and early morning queues stretching back from the doors of Apple stores around the world.
If it seems like yesterday that you saw those queues for the iPad 2, you’re not too far wrong; the late Steve Jobs unveiled that particular version on March 2nd, 2011 so if you’re still paying that off but want to keep up with the Jones’s, get your credit cards out. Release dates for Apple products are fairly reliably adhered to, so the incredible rush to buy the iPad 2 at Christmas, a matter of months before the release of the iPad 3, seems a little strange.
So what can we expect from the next product. At first glance there doesn’t appear to be any major game-changers, but there are a few small improvements that may yet prove to be a a type of tablet road map for other manufacturers.
LTE connectivity is something we’re going to hear about more and more in the next few years; it stands for Long Term Evolution and it will eventually bring very high speed wireless to mobile devices and tablets which are equipped with the right hardware. If the iPad 3 does indeed include this capability, it may well point the way for the rest of the market.
The display will be improved and upgraded to a ‘retina’ display and this is something that is already used in the newer iPad Touch and iPhone 4s. Look at the 9.7 inch display as closely as you like and you won’t be able to see the pixels.
The new iPad 3 will almost certainly be the same size as it’s predecessor but will probably be about an inch thicker; a necessity for the extra pieces of hardware which are going to be wedged inside. Anyway, enough guessing – not long to wait now.
The Qooq tablet is an interesting idea; not so much for what it provides – which is actually pretty useful – but as a pointer for the way ahead for certain niche tablets. We’ve already got a hatful of tablets of all prices which do pretty much everything fairly well – browsing, video, games and all the rest of it – but there’s probably a market for a product specifically designed for a certain audience.
The Qooq tablet may be a good start, it’s designed with the culinary art in mind and comes with ingredients lists, recipes and videos of meal preparation all pre-installed. You may note that there are plenty of recipe apps out there already for the iPad and Android devices and that may be true, but the Qooq integrates them into the GUI with much more style for want of a better word. There are hundreds of recipes, a comprehensive guide to which wine you should be serving with your chosen dish and scaled ingredient amounts which can be adjusted depending on the size of your guest list.
The French-made Qooq
The Qooq is also heat and water resistant to a certain extent which makes using it in the kitchen a less nerve-wracking experience. A kickstand on the back means you can stand it up for a good view. Of course it’s also a tablet with most of the features you expect from its rivals but the Qooq is unashamedly for cooks – don’t buy this if you live on takeouts and fast food. It’s a 10.1 inch screen with a dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 processor and runs on a very customised version of Linux designed for the cooking experience.
It’s manufactured in what some may consider the spiritual home of the chef – France – and has been unavailable there for a while now. You won’t have to battle the French-language website or user interface for long though – it will be available in the United States before long for around $400. Do note though that you’ll need to subscribe to take advantage of the new recipes which are added to the Qooq each month.