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Ever since the advent of mobile phone and tablet gaming we’ve seen countless game-oriented accessories come and go. From fake Xbox and PlayStation controller attachments, all the way to makeshift suction cup arcade sticks. Now to complete the circle we have the Cideko AD22 Arcade Universal Gaming Wheel. As the name suggests, the AD22 is a steering wheel attachment for a range of tablet devices, aimed at making accelerometer-based games that little bit easier to control. While it does succeed for the most part, niggling BlueTooth issues and a hefty price tag make it somewhat difficult to recommend.
Around the wheel
Primarily made out of plastic, the main section of the steering wheel features two adjustable clips alongside each ‘handle’ of the wheel. These over-sized handles feature rubber grips (in case things become incredibly intense) which allow you to steer and move the wheel via the ball joint connected at the device’s neck. The clips are adjustable by simple force, but also feature a button near the top section of the wheel which will extend the clips to their maximum height. Thanks to the adjustable clips, nearly any 7” to 10.1” tablet such as the Apple iPad, iPad Mini, Google Nexus or Amazon Kindle will fit snugly within the centre of the steering wheel.
Go down to the front section at the base of the device and you’ll find a power button and volume buttons for the inbuilt BlueTooth speakers. Then at the back there is a power switch and a mini USB port if you don’t wish to power the device via 4 x AA batteries.
Simply drop your tablet of choice into the middle of the unit and push down on one of the two clips until it grips it firmly into place, and that’s really all there is to it. We used a 2nd generation iPad and a smaller 7” Google Nexus, both of which fit inside the steering wheel without any complications. If the tablet you’re using is thicker than the two clips themselves, the unit also has a height adjustment on each side to ensure the device is fully enveloped by the racing wheel, preventing any tablets needlessly flying across your living room, mid game.
As mentioned above, the AD22 also features built-in speakers via BlueTooth. While this is normally a simple procedure of turning on the wheel – search for local BlueTooth devices on your phone and hit connect – we ran into a handful issues. Multiple times the AD22 just refused to connect or when it did, dropped out after one to two minutes after establishing a connection. We had to resort to taking the batteries out and putting them back, essentially restarting the device. Use of the speakers is completely optional so if you find yourself about to slap a baby out of frustration, you can always skip this part of the setup.
While I won’t say the wheel turned my gaming skills into that of a professional, it definitely made for a more comfortable experience. The two main ‘grips’ of the wheel that feature rubber covered handles make manoeuvring the device a breeze. The amount of resistance and weight on the wheel, while not exactly adjustable, hits that sweet spot between not too loose, but tight enough for precise movements within a game. We tried a slew of racing and ‘flying’ games that makes use of the iPad’s accelerometer and had no issues tilting and moving the tablet around.
My main gripe with the unit is its price and target audience. Tablet gaming in general has always been an ‘on the go’ ordeal so an entire stationary steering wheel, and one that costs around $100 AU is kind of baffling. If you’re the kind that takes their tablet gaming seriously and wants a slight edge on the competition, then this is for you. Otherwise this is nothing more than a glorified tablet stand with some speakers slapped on for good measure.