Review: The iPad ThinkGeek iCADE by Ion Audio

Mini Arcade Peripheral for iPad is an Old-School Blast

The ThinkGeek iCade for the iPad.

Hello. My name is Jason Hidalgo and I’m a geek.

It wasn’t obvious at first. After all, I also happen to be a man of diverse interests. I like to cook. I like to write. I have a passion for sports. I even have metrosexual tendencies at times.

Certainly, there’s no possible way I could be a geek. I mean, yes, I like playing video games. But so do professional athletes.

So with all those factors in mind, I lived my life considering myself a “normal” member of society. Still, the signs were there.

While talking to my friends one day about gadgets and games, for example, a female coworker walks up and says “Are you guys geeking out again?” Meanwhile, I had three different friends tell me three different times, “Jason, you’re such a geek.” Did I mention that they come from three different countries?

So given the fact that I apparently fit the standards of geekdom for three different cultures, I started entertaining the idea that, yes, I just might be a geek. But I still wasn’t sure.

Then the ThinkGeek iCADE by Ion Audio for Apple's iPad came in the mail and I heard a little shriek from my mind and, quite possibly, my throat.

It’s official. I’m a geek.

With that in mind, here is my review of the iCADE.

The Pros

Wow Factor

The iCADE is a bona fide eyeball magnet. At a recent party in my house, I decided to leave the iCADE at a corner of my family room and not saying anything. Needless to say, my younger cousins started circling around it. Even older relatives paused with a smile after seeing it and asked me, “Hey, what’s that?” And if you’re a fan of old-school arcade cabinets, the mini iCADE’s design will definitely tug at your geeky heartstrings.

Solid Controls

Joystick and buttons respond well and don’t feel cheap. In fact, they felt so nice that I wish the device was compatible with Street Fighter and other fighting game apps. (“Does it play Street Fighter?” by the way, was the initial reaction I got from my videogame-loving cousins when they first saw the iCADE, as well) Let’s put it this way. If the iCADE ever becomes compatible with fighting game apps in the future, then I would tack on an extra half star to my review.

Easy to Assemble

You don’t need a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to put together the iCADE. Admittedly, aligning the side panels can get tricky once your view of the drill holes gets obstructed. But assembling the iCADE was pretty easy overall.

No Wires

The iCADE connects to the iPad via Bluetooth as opposed to the connector port. That means no wires and the ability to rotate your iPad to landscape mode if you wish.

The Cons

Solid controls

Joystick and buttons respond well and don’t feel cheap. In fact, they felt so nice that I wish the device was compatible with Street Fighter and other fighting game apps. (“Does it play Street Fighter?” by the way, was the initial reaction I got from my videogame-loving cousins when they first saw the iCADE, as well) Let’s put it this way. If the iCADE ever becomes compatible with fighting game apps in the future, then I would tack on an extra half star to my review.

Easy to Assemble

You don’t need a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to put together the iCADE. Admittedly, aligning the side panels can get tricky once your view of the drill holes gets obstructed. But assembling the iCADE was pretty easy overall.

No Wires

The iCADE connects to the iPad via Bluetooth as opposed to the connector port. That means no wires and the ability to rotate your iPad to landscape mode if you wish.

Closing Thoughts

The iCADE is a bit tough to review because it obviously will be received much differently by different types of people. Gamers who view the golden age of classic Atari arcade games with great fondness will love this retro device. More casual gamers, though, will likely see it as a quirky novelty that eventually wears off.

One thing’s for sure, the iCADE is the closest thing to a bona fide geek test. Show this sucker to anyone and you can figure out just how geeky they are based on their reaction. 

"Ah ga-RON-tee."

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too.