Important note: The SL Go service is to be shut down on April 30th, 2015. For more information, please read this report.
At the time, I indicated it would be unlikely that I’d do so, as I rarely have need to access Second Life when away from my main computer, and when such occasions do occur, I have Lumiya at my disposal which tends to meet all the needs I have for mobile SL access.
However, I decided that in the interests of testing / reporting, I’d take some time to drive SL Go on my Nexus 7 2013 HD.
For those unfamiliar with Asus’ 2013 offering on behalf of Google, the Nexus 7 HD features a 7-inch screen with a 1920×1200 resolution at a whooping 323 ppi, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU paired with an Adreno 320, 400 MHz GPU and 2 GB RAM and, in the case of the model I have, 16 GB internal storage. As such, it runs Lumiya beautifully. But what of SL Go?
Well, frankly and unsurprisingly, it runs SL Go pretty fabulously. As with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 OnLive loaned me for the SL Go preview, SL Go is slick and fast on the Nexus and beautifully clear – most of the time (a caveat I’ll return to in a moment).
Rather than a quick on / off with the service, I spent time wandering around LennonParkOnTheRock, which I’ve reviewed in these pages (using Firestorm for the photos, simply so I can access all the windlights I tend to use). I explored the trails and paths, had a chat with one of my blog subscribers (/me waves to Ringo), and tried a few snaps both via screen capture (1920×1200) and via the viewer’s snapshot floater & e-mail (allowing me snaps at 4096×2497).
Overall, and allowing for the fact my Internet connection was a tad bit ropy at the time due to an intermittent line fault, my experience on the Nexus was easily equitable to that gained on the Galaxy Tab 3. However, the additional real estate offered by the latter’s 10-inch screen did make it perhaps a preferable choice for me when using SL Go, even with the higher and crisper resolution on the Nexus.
In my original preview of SL Go I made mention of the fact that there is obviously a lower limit in terms of screen size where using the service is liable to become impractical, even with the overlay and the ability to zoom-in on the UI. This is something OnLive acknowledged in our chats about the service prior to launch as well. However, quite where this limit is comes down to a number of factors – with eyesight perhaps topping the list, alongside (maybe) screen resolution.
For me and my eyes, which aren’t quite what they used to be (although in difference to Spike Milligan / Eccles, they never used to be my ears….) my Nexus 7 is probably that lower limit. Yes, it was great having SL displayed in all its glory on the screen – graphics at Ultra, shadows, ambient occlusion and all the rest, but after 30 minutes, I started finding it hard to focus and found things getting a little blurry due to eyestrain (hence my little caveat earlier). This is not a fault of OnLive’s; I think there is simply too much detail on the Nexus’ screen for my eyes to comfortably process without me feeling some strain.
Of course, I could partly mitigate this by zooming-in on specific areas of the screen, reducing my overall field of view. But this raised its own issues; if I wanted to use a tool bar button or menu option, for example while zoomed-in, I had to first zoom back out and then zoom back in again to ease the amount of strain I was feeling behind my eyes – and this did start to get a little tedious in its own right. It also wasn’t something I noticed so much when using the bigger 10-inch screen of the Galaxy Tab (or at least, I wasn’t so conscious of it when using the Tab).
But leaving this aside, SL Go did run exceptionally well for me. The overlay, as with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, performed flawlessly, and the Bluetooth keyboard I use with my Nexus allowed me to chat a lot more easily than using the on-screen keyboard, and was obviously completely non-invasive on the screen, which was a big plus when compared to having just an on-screen keypad for text use.
So, would I be tempted to use SL Go over Lumiya?
That’s a tough one for me to answer and not necessarily because of the current SL Go pricing plan. The fact is that I rarely need to access SL when away from may home computer, and when I do, Lumiya actually more than meets most of my needs, as noted at the top of this article. However, and more to the point, I’ve been a firm supporter of Lumiya and Alina’s work ever since Oz Linden gave me a nudge towards it back in early 2012, and so have a certain loyalty in that direction which I’m unwilling to set aside purely on the basis of new shiny.
But that said, were there an occasion when I wanted to be in-world which benefited from having all the graphical richness of the viewer when away from my PC, then yes, I’d opt for SLGo, even with the current pricing plan. In fact, given my “mobile SL” needs are so rare, the fact that the service currently does have a metered payment system actually makes it more attractive to me than were it to have been introduced purely on a subscription basis.
This should not be taken to mean I’m against the service having a subscription payment option – I’ve already expressed an opinion that OnLive should offer both. It’s purely that even $25.00 for 10 hours of SL access via my Nexus is most likely going to last me a good several months based on past habits, thus making it potentially a lot lighter on my purse than a straightforward subscription service.
As it is, and putting questions of payment plans and what OnLive might or might not do in the future (and they are monitoring things closely, believe me) aside, I do now have two options for using SL from my Nexus should the need arise. And, eyesight allowing, choice is always a good thing, right?