iPad 3rd Gen Hands-on vs Android: Gaming

Mar 19, 2012
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The showdown continues: the 2012 Retina Display-bearing iPad faces off against the ASUS Transformer Prime, this time bringing the two gaming-ready giants to the court for their next all-out hardware brawl. What we're doing here is showing how these two prime examples of nicest and newest tablet hardware on the market for each of these two beasts' operating systems, with the iPad running iOS and the Transformer running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - these tied directly to the power of the units' processors: the A5X from Apple and NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 4-PLUS-1 technology. Who will be the victor in the gaming space? You'll find that there's no one simple answer to that question rather quickly.

The reason you're not going to get one definitive answer as to which of these devices is better at gaming is that they're running completely different sets of not only hardware, but software as well - the only real similarities between these two devices is their display technology, the fact that both units are considered tablet PCs, and the fact that the games they're playing are made by the same developers.

NOTE: check out our original Transformer Prime review, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Transformer Prime review, and our new iPad (3rd Gen) review as well for more information on the hardware being used in this post.

We've got Pinball HD, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, and SHADOWGUN. There are a few things you should know about each of these games before you judge either device just on their looks - keep that in mind as you see either machine outshine the other. Also note that all of these videos have been filmed with a very simple setup including a stand for the tablet to keep it still and a tripod to keep the camera still, the camera being the fabulous Lumix GF1.

Pinball HD

Both machines perform undeniably excellent with this high definition pinball fantasy of a game, and indeed they should as the game is easily the highest rated pinball game on either market - the developers essentially having no rivals in the space as far as HD gameplay goes. What you're seeing is a Wild West themed machine with sounds, lights, and special shots galore - and in fact you'll notice we get the same bonus on both games in this set, shooting the bad guy, fancy that!

The Pinball HD game series does seem to fit the display a bit better on the iPad simply because it's been tuned to work with a massive range of display sizes in the Android version. Outside of that one tiny factor, there's really no telling which machine plays the game better here. This is due in part to the amazing processing power of both the A5X chip and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, but a lot of credit must be given to the developers of the Pinball HD series as well for making such a versatile game - Gameprom for the win!

Asphalt 6: Adrenaline

Here you're going to see the developer team behind the game, Gameloft in this case, giving quite a bit of favor to the iPad version of the game because ramping their graphics up to Retina-quality allowed them to be featured this week in the iTunes App Store - and who wouldn't want that honor? So you're not exactly going to see the most fantastic comparison here when it comes to optimization on the Transformer Prime.

That said, you will notice that both tablets are performing admirably as far as response time and ability to rock and roll with the car goes. You'll see a few different elements depending on which version of the game you've got here - even the car has alternate graphics on the side - but the game is essentially the same, and both machines do bring a generous vision to the racing experience.

I've played Asphalt 6: Adrenaline from start to finish on Android, iPad, and OS X, and again you've got to give it to the developers for their ability to deliver at least a perfectly similar gameplay experience if not graphics display in each version - fun for everyone! At the moment though, believe it or not, the iPad here is the best of the bunch with its most most updated version of the game.

SHADOWGUN

This game is so very popular in the mobile gaming world that I'd be surprised if you're reading this post without having played it yourself. Here we've got the most advanced version of the basic game for either platform, that being just SHADOWGUN for the iPad and SHADOWGUN THD for the Transformer Prime. This game has been developed by Madfinger Games in close collaboration with NVIDIA for the Android version so it's set to do fabulously on Tegra 3 processors - you'll also notice some added effects, more environment action, and even a few more bad guys in this version as well.

The game does appear to move just as smooth on both platforms - both platforms have a disadvantage when it comes to being able to run perfectly smoothly, that being the massive amount of extra pixels the iPad has to work with and the much more diverse environment of the game for Android. So who is the victor here? Let your eyes decide!

Facebook Exclusive: Grand Theft Auto III

An extended video you're going to love the heck out of watching is the most violent and one of the most classic games out of the bunch: Grand Theft Auto III. This game is an anniversary edition of the original PlayStation masterpiece and has been optimized for the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core chip. That said, it looks pretty darn good on the new iPad as well. Have a look at this link: http://tinyurl.com/7pldtns!

Wrap-Up

When the iPad was first announced, Apple claimed that their new A5X chip would be out-doing the Tegra 3 by four times. I'm not so sure about that, as both setups do appear to be keeping up with one another quite nicely in this basic (and relatively unscientific) environment. The only real way we'd truly be able to see how the CPU and GPU chips in these machines perform against one another would be to have them running the same display, games, and operating systems. But therein lies the problem.

There's no perfect way to compare single elements in machines without the rest of their components controlled and set equal. The NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor is made for Android and tuned differently for each of the now vast amount of machines it is made for, including the Transformer Prime, several other 10.1-inch tablets, and a variety of smartphones coming out soon. Apple's A5X chip is made specifically for the iPad 3rd Generation, where there's an A5 chip made specifically for the iPad 2, another different A5 chip made for the iPhone 4S, and yet another A5 chip made for the new Apple TV.

The only way you're going to get an accurate comparison between these machine's processors is to use their final builds in your everyday average lives. What you see above is a set of game demos that, though entertaining to watch, are not perfect indicators of the power of either machine we're looking at at the moment. The Android and Apple environments are very different from one another, and it's only you who can make an accurate assessment of what will be best for you.

That said, we're going to keep trying our best to figure out how else we might keep the battle a-brewing! Next we'll be comparing other GPU-intensive tasks like processing video - we'll see how that goes when both machines bring on the 1080p video to the streets for a real all-out knife fight!

BONUS: Check out our current Transformer Prime Quad-Core Pack Giveaway for your chance to win your own Transformer Prime!


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