Developer: Ion Audio
Price: $89.99 MSRP
Hardware Tested On: iPad 2

Usability Rating: ★★★★½
Protection Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

ION Audio has refreshed the original iCade as the iCade Core, acting as a more compact version of the original controller. Functionally, it’s identical; the buttons feel slightly softer compared to the original iCade, but hardware-wise, it is identical and has the same compatibility.

The benefit to the iCade Core is that it I just so much more portable and versatile. Want to play on the couch with the iCade in the lap? Go for it. It’s also much better for playing on a TV via HDMI. Also? There’s no assembly required.

The drawback is of course that it just does not look as cool without the arcade cabinet. The iPad stand does have some room to slide around in the space carved out for it, so having a case might be a good safety mechanism. As well, one of the things I would like to see would be at least a key combination to call up the software keyboard, because until it idles out or Bluetooth is manually turned off, the iCade Core will take over keyboard input.

Bottom line, I must say that while both systems are functionally identical, the iCade Core’s increased portability and practicality makes it a superior option to the classic iCade for iPad owners, unless of course the original arcade-cabinet style is being used as a decoration somewhere.