Hands On With OnLive's Android/iPad Client

We had the chance to sit down with OnLive's President and CEO, Steve Perlman, and go through a few demos of the company's latest offerings, including two clients, one designed for Android and the other for iOS.

OnLive's table had a Motorola XOOM and an Apple iPad 2 to showcase some demos.

On the iPad 2, OnLive was streaming a title created by Ubisoft that offered touch-controls if played on a tablet. The feedback felt good, and fluid, as if you were running a native game on the iPad 2 itself. However, the big feature was that the graphics on the screen was far beyond anything that tablets can render at this point. We saw impressive water fluids, and fly-by screens looked smooth. The touch controls were easy to use, but were designed specifically for the demo. The majority of OnLive's titles do not have native tablet touch controls.

Which is where the demo with the XOOM came in. We tried playing with Virtua Tennis 2009, streamed from OnLive's servers to the XOOM. The difference with this demo was that we were using the actual OnLive wireless game controller. Gameplay was responsive, and controls felt good. There was no discernible lag in either demo, and was actually very fun.

For PC gamers, there might not be an immediate reason to jump on OnLive's service, since players are accustomed to having their own physical media. But for mobile gamers, this is a pretty big thing. We imagine late nights of gaming in bed, where you can prop up your tablet, take out the controller, and start gaming without having to go to the living room and turning on the TV.

One thing we asked Perlman was whether this tablet combination might be able to compete with the new Wii U, and his answer was that OnLive is going to be able to bring Wii U-like experience later this year. Using a tablet as your game controller, combined with the OnLive console connected to a TV, players will be able to interact with titles much like they would on a Wii U, said Perlman. No exact dates on when this year we'll see such titles, but the concept is there.

OnLive's direction is one of "consumable media," where they approach games as any other media that's consumed on devices like your TV or an iPad. Within this sense, OnLive has a very good proposition going, delivering hard-hitting PC and console titles to devices that are out of reach for mobile devices.

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  • cangelini
    If you haven't checked it out yet, you can see my experiences with OnLive, which weren't as positive. As a PC gamer, what you get from the service graphics-wise is sub-par. Also, the model didn't sit well with me. That story is right here.

    Chris Angelini
  • gurboura
    The problem most people on this website can't comprehend is why this service exists. It's for what you said in your article, those with older desktops and notebooks that can't play modern games smoothly. One thing that did get me was your statement: "I have to wonder, though, how many folks with four-year old notebooks and no better desktop system at their disposal pay for 5+ Mb/s Internet connections?" I know of several family members who have 6 and 7 year old desktops, but with high speed internet for downloading music, movies and other things.
  • cangelini
    And they're probably not Tom's Hardware readers, are they? =) For *most* of the folks reading this site regularly, OnLive isn't attractive.