CES 2015 just wrapped up, and amidst the 4K curved TVs, Nokia’s new brick and all sorts of questionably practical gadgets there were a lot of products and announcements for gamers. So, here they are:
Razer are branching out to the living room, with the Razer Forge TV. Sporting an Android operating system, it really seems to be what people were hoping for out of the Ouya all that time ago (the kickstarter ended over 2 years ago now, back in August 2012, it still feels like it was months ago). With the backing of an already major hardware developer, it seems like it could be especially strong thanks to the announcements made alongside it.
The box itself is nothing huge, just an Android set-top box, however the controller Serval announced alongside seems to compliment it: bluetooth connectivity, the ability to connect to a smartphone for gaming, and a design gamers know and love.
If you’re not looking for a console you can use a controller with, the Turret wireless mouse and keyboard would be for you. A keyboard with mousemat attached, with a 3500 DPI mouse, and the ability to connect through both Bluetooth and an included adaptor. The design is made to fit nicely in the lap, and the magnetic mousemat prevents you from accidentally pushing the mouse off and onto the sofa.
Finally, Razer Cortex, their software, is being given a new, paid feature: the ability to stream your PC games to an Android TV or set top box (such as the Razer Forge itself). Whether you were disappointed by the Ouya, or are waiting for the Steam Box, the Razer Forge is probably the best gaming set top box out there, that isn’t an outright console. The only price we have for any of these is $39.99 for Razer Cortex: Stream.
Razer are also are the forefront of a campaign for OSVR: open source virtual reality. It aims to unite all virtual reality headsets under one piece of software (similarly to Android with smartphones, they hope), allowing for software developers to code for compatibility with all VR and motion control devices, rather than having to work on compatibility for each other separately. The companies backing OSVR are looking to sell a ‘hacker development kit’, containing the OSVR software and a VR headset for $199, with a design allowing for hardware developers to add to the system as they wish. The software itself is to be released for free under the Apache 2.0 license.
Standardisation is something PC gaming suffers from a lack of, resulting in incompatibility with new programs and hardware, however if OSVR is successful in creating a base model for all VR hardware and software it will really boost the simplicity of it for both the consumers and developers, I hope it becomes the Android of VR.
The R.A.T. PROx Gaming Mouse seems to be pushing the idea of modular hardware: the sensor is able to be swapped out depending on the user’s preference. It’s a step up from previous advances, where a specific DPI could be set at the click of a button, where now the whole sensor can be changed. Somehow I doubt we’ll be getting module with a rollerball…
The modular style continues to the scroll wheel, with 3 being packaged with the mouse, and click force being adjustable. Also, they’re adding a ‘analogue strafe’ feature, allowing for, you guessed it, horizontal movement using the scroll wheel. For games that require very specific movement, it sounds great, and it might be slightly cheaty for speedrunners. No word on the price, though. Considering the wired mice from Mad Catz are priced up to $149.99, you can probably make a good guess from that.
On top of this, Mad Catz announced their new L.Y.N.X 9 mobile hybrid controller. Aimed at couch and mobile gaming, it’s a compact device that can attach to a smartphone for gaming on the go, connects to compatible set-top boxes, can connect via bluetooth to your PC or to a tablet for that all-important toilet seat gaming. It includes a keyboard addon, for if you need to reply to something, and a trackpad addon, for browsing the internet. With a built-in microphone too, it’s certainly trying to do everything. On top of this, a free app will be available for Android which can be used to even change the sensitivity of the sticks and triggers. The idea of a standard peripheral I could use on my phone, PC, and TV is great, and I hope the idea is expanded upon. It’s on their website, ‘coming soon’, priced at a hefty $299.99.
Finally, TRITTON, a Mad Catz brand, have announced a new wireless headset called Swarm. It uses Bluetooth technology for receiving audio, meaning it can connect to more than just a PC. They use the example of the headset being connected to both your phone and your PC, and it has the technology to mute your microphone in-game (or in your chosen software) and allow you to answer the call directly from the headset itself, without even having to touch your phone. Hiding the microphone means you no longer look like a helicopter pilot, and it claims to have ‘military grade’ surround sound – probably still not enough for some audiophiles, I’m sure. It’s available for pre-order at $149.99, shipping in March 2015.
Corsair have used CES 2015 to show off their new CPU cooler and bracket to use it for a GPU: the Hydro Series H110i GT Liquid CPU Cooler and Hydro Series HG10 N780 GPU Cooling Bracket. The cooler itself has two fans, with an increased radiator size for those with larger cases, and is compatible with Corsair Link, for customisability and for clear temperature and fan speeds. The CPU cooler itself is being priced at $129.99, rather high end, and the GPU cooling bracket is priced at $39.99. With the increase in the use of dual graphics cards, I imagine these brackets will become popular in the future, and Corsair have realised this, I feel, embracing support for them.
Apart from the lighting it looks simple, but clearly it’s what’s on the inside that counts
Advertised as the fastest and most customizable gaming keyboard, the Apex M800 mechanical gaming keyboard features a redesigned switch for the keys, one they’re calling QS1. With a decreased actuation at 1.5mm(how far the key has to travel before it is recognised as a press), decreased throw at 3mm (the maximum distance the key can travel) and a centred LED. On top of this, the keyboard itself contains two processors, and Steelseries say it can handle 256 key presses at once. Good luck with achieving that sort of APM. The keys are individually lit and can be programmed for different patterns, and there is, as you would expect, a macro editor, with every key available to be used for a macro. It isn’t priced yet, however you can sign up to be notified of its availability.
Steelseries’ interesting product at CES 2015 is Sentry, an eye tracker for gaming. Advertised for esports professionals and streamers, it records where you’re looking while in game, and allows for analysis later. The clear use would be for people to track how often they are looking at the map or other areas in game in MOBAs, and for streamers and content creators it would allow for interesting content on professional game players. Honestly, it seems like a leap into new territory a little too early. For £159.99, it’s an expensive peripheral that adds very little unless you’re looking to really analyse your skills, although it’s good to see Steelseries looking at new areas.
Gaming laptops with an overclocked desktop CPU. It was a huge talking point at CES 2015, and lere’s a lot of hype around the Eon17-X and Eon 15-X. While for a lot of people, it’s too much, video editors would love it. The 17-X is much more sleek that their previous 17” model, being 30% lighter, however both models are the same on the inside. With 4 slots for RAM, support for 2 hard drives and 2 m.2 drives (for SSD drives), I am sure video editors will be picking this up as soon as possible: the huge space for the large video files and the large amount of possible space on SSD drives for loading up programs faster will be massive for those who need it; the days of content creators being unable to work on the move are coming to an end. I’ve got to say though, I imagine it might be a bit of a radiator without a cooling pad. The 17-X will run you at least $1878, although the hardware can be improved and that can be bumped up significantly, where the 15-X will cost at least $1842.
MSI had on show a monster of a laptop: the MSI GT80 Titan SLI. Dual GeForce GTX 980Ms are the biggest point here to me: two top-of-the-range graphics cards put together in a laptop. Close behind, however, is that this laptop has a mechanical keyboard, the first laptop to do so as far as I am aware. Using Cherry MX Brown switches, they’re really aiming for a gaming experience as close to that on a PC as possible.
A major difference between this and the ORIGIN laptops is that the GT80 Titan SLI has a specific cooling system, designed to keep it cool for extended durations, although we’ll see the effectiveness of it in the future: dual GPUs will be generating a lot of heat. Where the Eon17-X and Eon15-X by Origin PC are made for content creators, the GT80 Titan SLI is made just for the gamers. Two versions will be available, sporting the same specifications bar the CPU, with one being a little better, and that same one having an extra 8GB of DDR3L memory. However, probably the most interesting part of this laptop is how it is made to be easy to open up and upgrade. The hard drive, memory, and graphics cards are all easy to access, just one plate off the surface, and can be swapped out in the future. For gamers who want to stay at the top of the range all the time, without having to buy a completely new laptop, it sounds great. You’re certainly paying for it though: it’s going to run you between $3,299 and $3,499 depending on if you buy the Eon17-X or Eon15-X.
On top of this, they’ve announced another world-first, the AG240 2PE All-in-one 4K Gaming PC. All-in-one PCs have always reminded me of a school or college’s computers, how MSI are bringing them to a new audience. With a GTX 860M, a 4K screen and a 4th generation i7 processor, it’s a high-end device, made for those without the space for a full desktop PC. It will run you around £1300-£1400, you’re paying for simplicity and size here, and it seems to be the first all-in-one 4K gaming PC. MSI are jumping into some new territory with their products, and I can’t wait to see how they’re refined and improved.
Self-proclaimed “manufacturer of innovative accessories”, Nyko have gathered a lot of attention (so much that it seems their website has been going down and I can’t access it for a picture) with a PS4 peripheral: one that allows for a larger hard drive to be used. For those who are reaching the limits of their hard drive, certainly in this age where they can be filled up quickly through downloaded games, it seems like a good solution, and one I think a lot of people were looking for. According to IGN they’re looking for a “$30-$40 price range”, so if you’ve got a HDD lying around that you want to use on your PS4, this might be just the ticket.
The big announcement from Nvidia was of the Tegra X1, a mobile ‘super chip’, with an 8-core 64-bit capable CPU and up to 4K video capability at 60Hz. Aimed at smartphones and cars, this is a huge leap, and I’m sure with the amount of time and effort Nvidia are putting behind the Shield, I’m sure they will have a lot more to announce surrounding the Tegra X1 down the line. They showcased the chip predominantly around use in cars, and the innovation Nvidia are pushing in that area will only be carried across to all areas of technology. For now, though, it is a hope for the future.
I couldn’t talk about everything from CES 2015, there were hundreds of products and announcements: Oculus showed off updated audio, Intel announced their 5th generation processors, and there were too many startups to count. Did one announcement get you hyped that isn’t here? Put it below!