This year at CES one of the biggest things looks to be the changing face of game playing. We aren’t seeing the new more mainstream consoles from Microsoft and Sony just yet, though rumours are rife when we’ll get to see that. What we are seeing though are tablet and chipset makers looking to push their view that the new face of gaming will be through handheld tablet machines that can be extended in various different ways. From NVIDIA with its Shield “console” if we can call it that, to the Razr Edge tablet which is more of a gaming laptop if anything the focus is on showing that there is graphical processing and functionality out there to get the attention of gamers. Another of these is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 tablet.
The Snapdragon 800 promises a lot, based around the new Snapdragon 800 processor it is still in prototype right now but it’s pushing to be one of the most powerful tablets available in 2013 so far. With the ability to play back and capture content in 4k it’s also making a bold statement, especially when 4K seems to be the main focus on the HD resolution of 2013.
With a promised speed of 2.3Ghz (quad-core processing) this is going to be a tablet with major power, especially when you think that this is still based on a chip that is focused on the mobile industry and not full scale PC/MAC computing. Along with the processor itself there is also the new Adreno 330 GPU to handle the graphical processing which will require major power, especially when pushing out a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (4K). This GPU looks to double the graphical power that is currently being output, and with other functionality such as Dual Image Signal Processors (ISP) and the new promise of Ultra HD, the Snapdragon 800 processor is promising something quite special.
It’s hard to really comment on the look of the tablet itself, especially when the examples shown at the CES demonstration are based on a prototype, but we can still make some assumptions by the quality of the screen in use. The prototype at the moment uses a 10-inch screen which gives plenty of space for the gameplay. This looks better right now than the iPhone 4 and 5, even with its Retina Display technology, which is something we’d expect if the tablet is trying to argue that it can stream 4K content.
If the tablet is going to be fast during gameplay, especially graphically intense console level games then it’s obviously going to be fast through the normal user interface and less processor intensive functions. This is almost common sense but on the prototype it’s said to be the case. The Prototype played a modified version of the Dark Knight Rises game as a demonstration of what to expect during gameplay with added textures and layers to show what the graphical chipset can do. The results are said to be very impressive, which they will obviously have to be if they are going to not only compete against the current generation of consoles, even before the next generation comes in.
The big buzz of 2013 seems to be the belief that tablet gaming will take over and become the strongest platform this year, but it’s undoubtedly going to have a huge task on its hands to actually manage this. There are plenty of tablets coming out in 2013 (or aimed to be) and they provide a lot of power, but in the end it’s arguable that these are glorified PCs wrapped up into a tablet that in the end will need a gamepad to run it. The fact is, the future of gaming is going to be pushing to bigger screens, hugely improved graphics and of course processing power. Tablets and the use of the technology will have their place but I’d argue that it’s unlikely that we’ll see a shift from consoles and the PC when it comes to gaming, Tablets will have their place working with these consoles. The Snapdragon 800 series is an excellent example of what can be done, especially in terms of graphics and will be a real contender in the tablet gaming market, it just appears at the moment to be a nice proof of concept rather than a console beater.