Whether you're a desktop, console, or mobile gamer, the halls of CES had something to offer. We saw new gaming mice, laptops, handhelds, a next-generation board game — and that's just scratching the surface. All of the news and our hands-on impressions are collected in the StoryStream below, so step away from that copy of Skyrim and check them out!A special thanks to Borrow Lenses, who provided us with cameras and lenses for the week!
Jan 20, 2012
First, we'll tackle the headsets. While it may lack simulated 7.1 surround sound as found in products from Turtle Beach and Astro, the stereo output from the Freq 5 seemed to provide adequate lows and a relatively crisp high-end in Mad Catz's crowded hotel suite. We came away more impressed with the build quality. Among other things, the headset features a number of metal components including a joint that lets the ear cups twist to rest comfortably on your shoulders. The Freq 5s can double as a regular pair of headphones by way of interchangeable USB / 3.5mm extensions; the transition is dead simple, but we can't imagine many folks will be buying these with music in mind.Read Article >
Likewise, the Cyborg MMO 7 mouse aims to build upon the prior Cyborg Rat 7 and its 6400dpi "twin-eye" sensor by adding features tailored for open world titles like World of Warcraft. The thirteen programmable buttons exhibited nice tactility and response, while tracking also looked to be quite sharp. Better yet, if the hardware isn't to your liking out of the box, Mad Catz provides tools that let you customize both the frame and weight (just like the Rat series) of the mouse to better suit your grip. The initial setup wasn't exactly tailored for our large hands, but a quick adjustment improved things greatly.
Jan 16, 2012
AMD's top-tier Radeon HD 7970 plays 'Battlefield 3' on three screens, two more for video conferencing (hands-on video)Read Article >
AMD's Trinity-based laptop was the most impressive demo at the company's CES 2012 booth, but we couldn't pass up the chance to play Battlefield 3 across three nearly bezel-free screens on a pair of Radeon HD 7970s — especially when flanked by an additional pair of screens doing multipoint video conferencing. One of the little-known features that AMD added in the new Radeon HD 7000 series is Digital Discrete Multipoint Audio, or DDMA for short, which basically means you can assign audio, not just video, to a particular monitor, and always hear audio from the direction of the program it belongs to. In this case, the booms and bangs of Battlefield came from ahead, while the friendly AMD reps spoke to us on either side, though you could also theoretically use DDMA to send different video streams to entirely different rooms of your house. Witness our editor Vlad Savov succumb to the technology's charms (or a hail of virtual bullets, take your pick) in the video below.
Jan 15, 2012
Microsoft's Kinect for Windows wasn't the only gesture control system to tout "near mode" this CES. SoftKinetic offers an alternate solution with an eye towards OEMs, and this week it released a public alpha of new firmware for its DepthSense 311 that it claims will detect finger movement from as close as 15cm (vs. Kinect's 50cm) and as far away as about three feet. Those numbers seems about right; SoftKinetic let us try out the firmware first-hand in two applications — a barebones tech demo that showed exactly what the software was detecting, and a "puppet show" app that let you control two cartoon puppets with ragdoll arms — and detection seemed to work fine within the stated range. The puppets could to and fro, nod their head, twist around, and open their mouths when you un-balled a fist. The twisting mechanism didn't work perfectly, and touching your hands together resulted in rather weird behavior, but it's still an early alpha build — many of the kinks will be worked out in the next several months, although we won't know for sure until the final release.Read Article >
We also had a rather brief look at the upcoming DS320, with a higher-resolution QVGA depth sensor, HD video, and a wider 73-degree field of view. No word yet on the availability fo the new hardware, but firmware should be finalized by mid-year.
Jan 15, 2012
ePawn's seeking to shake up the tabletop gaming space, and we have to say, we're almost convinced it can: the startup's 26-inch Arena screen, which lies flat on a surface, sounds like the perfect tool for an aspiring Dungeon Master. The display uses a custom magnetic system to track the position, rotation and identity of physical game pieces in real time, and it's pretty fast: quick enough to play a casual game of air hockey, let alone track a few miniatures. More importantly, the software is platform agnostic, and doesn't reside on the screen itself. Your smartphone is the computer, and it connects to the ePawn Arena over Bluetooth.Read Article >
The idea is that you'll buy the screen and a variety of pieces from ePawn, then build software yourself for your mobile device of choice, though the company's co-founders told us that you won't necessarily need to program. An RPG development kit is also under consideration. You also might not need friends to crowd around a physical table, as ePawn says it can sync a pair of Arena screens over the internet to track your opponent's moves remotely. The screen will cost $400, and it's slated to go on sale later this year. That's not cheap, but not bad considering it also doubles as a regular PC monitor. Check out some multimedia below to get an idea of how it works.
Jan 13, 2012
AMD's next generation of Accelerated Processing Units, Trinity, was shown off to us at CES this year with an impressive multithreaded workload. One display was running Dirt 3 in DirectX 11 mode, another was on the Windows desktop with a video transcoding app in full flow, and the third — part of the laptop running the entire operation — was playing back a full HD movie. The upcoming Trinity chip was handling all three tasks simultaneously, offering compelling evidence for AMD's bold claim that Trinity will offer Llano-like performance but at half the energy consumption. The Dirt 3 instance played with perfect smoothness throughout and we saw no stutter in the HD video being played back on the laptop. We were shown a Trinity APU with a 35W TDP, but 17W models will also be made available alongside desktop parts that can go as high as 100W.Read Article >
Jan 13, 2012
Last year, Shogun Bros introduced a crazy mouse with a gamepad on the bottom. What could be crazier? How about a partnership with Ubisoft for an Assassin's Creed version with leather buttons? When we got to Shogun Bros' booth at CES 2012, though, it wasn't the new Chameleon that impressed: you're looking at the Ballista MK-1, a 5700dpi wired laser mouse that can independently adjust sensitivity on both the X and Y axes, on the fly, as well as dial down the 1000Hz polling rate to save power.Read Article >
You hold down the config button for five seconds to edit settings, then spin the mouse wheel to adjust the sensitivity in 100dpi increments, while a tiny abacus of red and green LEDs keeps track of your chosen resolution. You can save four different sensitivity modes (and five different profiles, for 20 presets in total) and rapidly swap between them with an up-down rocker under your thumb, while another set of blue LEDs keeps track of your current mode. Oh, and there are six buttons (including two dedicated macro keys) and a tilt-button scroll wheel.
Jan 13, 2012Read Article >
Cut The Rope is the latest big title game to gain compatibility with the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Microsoft launched an HTML5 version of the fun puzzle game during its CES 2012 press conference just a few days ago, but Om Nom the little green gobbler is also making its way to QNX. RIM is displaying the game quite prominently in its own booth on the show floor, and it's still the same challenging but delightful experience. Performance seemed fine on the PlayBook hardware — but then again that's never really been the device's problem. Still, if you're a PlayBook owner and you've already beaten Angry Birds, you can head over to BlackBerry App World and download the game for $2.99.
Earlier today, we saw Sony's PlayStation Vita show off its AT&T cellular chops with Unit 13, and now we've got the quad-core handheld demonstrating another augmented reality title. In case you're unaware, the US and European versions of the PlayStation Vita will come with six AR cards when they go on sale this February, and you can download a bunch of games: This one is Table Football, which turns the cards into goals, grandstands and a scoreboard. You can place them however you like, spreading them apart for a larger field, or closer in for a smaller one, and when you score a goal, the field gets re-rendered with fuller 3D graphics to show off the replay. Of course, you'd already know all that if you watched the video to begin with!Read Article >
Jan 12, 2012Read Article >
All that is detailed in the partnership agreement, the details of which we're of course not privy to. The North American PlayStation Vita box art for the 3G model highlights "Connected by AT&T" fairly prominently — and don't think otherwise. Plans start at $14.99 for 250MB and $25 for 2GB — same deal as iPad. So let's be clear: region-free, carrier-locked, and PSN-monogamous.
Jan 12, 2012
Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang dedicated a portion of his CES 2012 presentation this week to playing a game of Skyrim on an Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The Tegra 3-powered tablet was running a specially optimized version of Splashtop, dubbed Splashtop THD, which allows you to interact with your Windows PC on Android tablets with Tegra hardware under the hood. It's not a complicated setup, you just run the requisite apps on the PC and tablet, and it gives you access to the full breadth of Windows desktop functionality. Gaming, of course, being a core pillar of that.Read Article >
What I saw in person was far more impressive than the demo during Jen-Hsun's keynote, which was hampered by the fact the connection between the PC and Prime tablet was made over a slammed Wi-Fi connection. The demo units at Nvidia's booth communicated over a wired connection to avoid that trouble, and there was no discernible lag whatsoever. Skyrim's graphics, physics and other computation were all being handled by the the well-specced PC rig, with the Prime controlling the game via a connected USB controller. Gameplay was perfectly fluid, and Nvidia tells us Splashtop THD's latency-free operation will replicate the exact frame rate you get from your PC onto the tablet. That part was very much true, but it still remains to be seen quite how well the same setup will work without a wire helping out.
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There's not much left to learn about the PlayStation Vita that launched in Japan — find our full review right here — but we just got our hands on a Vita connected to AT&T's 3G HSPA network, and playing Unit 13. It's a third-person shooter from Zipper Interactive, best known for the SOCOM games, where you run from cover to cover though a series of shooting-and-sneaking missions trying for a high score. The game has actual multiplayer over Wi-Fi, but the 3G functionality allows for the game's online global leaderboards to be updated in real time, and in a clever stroke, the game notifies you if a friend beats your score, gently nudging you to jump back into the game. Turnabout is fair play, right? The game will be available in Vita's "launch window," so we're expecting to see it shortly after the handheld's February US launch. Check out our video below.
For the less gaming-focused tech enthusiasts that missed the E3 2011 debut, Nintendo has brought its Wii U hardware to CES this year. It's the exact same demo we saw back in June, albeit as two editors capturing shaky DSLR video in the midst of a very loud show floor. This time, fortunately, we had an awesome video crew with us to capture the moment in more quiet, intimate (aka dimly lit) environment. With a little help from future Vox Games Editor-in-Chief Chris Grant, I find a way to stumble through Chase Mii (a top-down hide-and-seek on the controller against three players using the TV and Wii Remote) and Battle Mii (similarly, a two-on-one Metroid-inspired shooter between Galactic Bounty Hunters and a spaceship). Despite suffering heavy loses — repeatedly — both were lots of fun and I hope make it in some form to launch.Read Article >
Other demos include Panorama View, best described as "live action Google Street View," and the HD experience that shows Wii U's graphics capability (specifically lighting) while Link (of Legend of Zelda fame) fights spiders. Usual Nintendo caveats apply: this is not the final hardware, none of these demonstrations are necessarily future Wii U games, and the Wii U is a controller (read: not a tablet). We expect to see the final hardware and more launch details at this year's E3.
Jan 11, 2012
WikiPad has made a splash at this year's CES with its WikiPad:3D — an 8-inch glasses-free 3D tablet running Android 4.0.3. It's being built by Gadmei, with the software build being named "Gadmei ICS," and the developer kit (as shown in the gallery below) is strikingly similar to the T863 we saw a couple of days ago. In practice, the tablet's slick and responsive, and though the final specs are undecided it's currently powered by a single-core 1.2GHz processor with 2GB RAM and 8GB storage, along with an unknown GPU. In regular use, the 1280 x 800 display looks great — it's bright and clear with rich colors — though it suffers from being highly reflective, and is a magnet for fingerprints.Read Article >
Although the tablet plays back 1080p 3D content smoothly, there's a noticeable ghosting of images as soon as you move your head away from the polarizer's sweet spot, meaning that sharing your movie with someone else could be difficult. WikiPad is also showing off a gaming grip accessory for the tablet which adds dual analog controls, shoulder buttons, and the standard four face buttons which connects via the microUSB port. We also noticed an app for OnLive rival Gaikai, suggesting that content partnerships are well underway. Pricing's still undecided, though the company's aiming for a $249 bundle of the tablet and controller by the time it reaches stores in March.
Jan 11, 2012
We confirmed with an OnLive representative that the
games were demoed on the streaming game service. Just to clarify, the Fiona is reportedly running Windows 7 locally: though it's technically possible to stream that from OnLive too (just take a look at Windows 7 running on this iPad) we're told that the OnLive Cloud Desktop isn't powering the entire experience this time around.Read Article >
Update: Razer just contacted us to dispute the claim, saying that games are running locally on the Fiona. We're going to follow up ASAP.
Jan 11, 2012Read Article >
We dropped by Nyko's CES booth today to see what the gaming accessory maker had to offer. First up was a range of accessories that should be hitting during the PlayStation Vita's "launch window" (the company couldn't be more specific) — a charging dock with speakers, a car charging kit, and a game card and memory card case. Nyko is also planning a battery-extending grip for the Vita, though this wasn't ready to be shown off today. Next, we saw a couple of Yo Gabba Gabba-branded products, which represent the company's first foray into the world of licensing. There was a DS/3DS charging stand and alarm clock featuring the character Muno, and a Brobee hip pack designed to carry a couple of DS-sized devices. Lastly, we saw Nyko venture entirely out of the gaming world, with some products for the Kindle Fire — a charging speaker stand along the lines of the Vita dock, and a battery pack case that relocates the Fire's power button to the front of the device.
Jan 11, 2012Read Article >
Mad Catz is adding to its line of Cyborg gaming peripherals with the Freq 5, a new gaming headset with some flexible features. Utilizing a similar design language as the Rat line of gaming mice — all jagged corners and metal accents — the USB headset features 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, a removable noise-canceling microphone, and microphone, volume, and equalizer controls built right into one of the earpieces. You can also swap out the USB cord with the included 3.5mm audio cable, turning the Freq 5 into a standard audio headset that can be used with an MP3 player or for making calls on your smartphone (strangely, the headset is listed as being compatible with the iPhone, and HTC and BlackBerry devices only). No pricing is available just yet, but the Freq 5 is expected to ship this spring.
Jan 11, 2012Read Article >
SteelSeries just announced a handful of accessories here at CES 2012. The most interesting is the Ion, a Bluetooth gamepad for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. It looks just like any old controller, with two shoulder buttons total, four action buttons, two analog sticks, and a d-pad. SteelSeries hasn't announced any compatible titles yet, though the company says the Ion will arrive in Q3 for an undisclosed amount.
Jan 11, 2012
The Series 7 Gamer can ship with either a 1TB or 2TB hard drive, plus 8GB of solid state storage on the motherboard. It can take up to 16GB of RAM, and has a manual dial to change between modes, including a high-power gaming mode. Playing Battlefield 3 on the highest settings in 1080p, we got excellent performance, as you can see in the video below. We'll keep you posted on any further news on pricing and release.Read Article >
We saw Razer's Core i7 winged gaming tablet under glass just over an hour ago, but here's Project Fiona in the flesh! We just got our hands on the prototype machine, and it's a pretty interesting piece of kit, to say the least. The 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 capacitive touchscreen is glossy but very crisp, and it definitely plays games: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine looked glorious on the display. The fixed (not detachable) controls feel pretty good, with nice tension on the depressible thumbsticks, and clearly draw on the Razer Hydra's design language, but without the annoying tapering on the far end of the grips. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan tells us it's got a third-gen Core i7 processor on board (read: Ivy Bridge), is the first tablet certified by THX, and there are front- and rear-facing cameras, an accelerometer and force feedback for PC game makers to implement in their titles. Interestingly enough, Razer's built a touchscreen UI on top of Windows 7, which has a game viewer, web browser and multimedia players as well as a screen to help you map the physical controls as you see fit.Read Article >
Fiona's pretty chubby compared to modern Android slates, but lighter than it looks, and Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan tells us the whole design is slated to be changed before the company will turn it into a product anyhow. We say "will" since he called the future version a "final product" several times, but he later clarified that a final decision is still up in the air, saying that Razer now has a tradition of bringing a far-out concept to CES every year. The Razer Switchblade would agree: in less than a year, it morphed into quite a different machine.
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While it isn't quite as exciting as Project Fiona, the Razer Blade or even the touchscreen-equipped Star Wars: The Old Republic keyboard, Razer's latest mouse, the Naga Hex, looks and feels fantastic. True to its name, the $79.99 peripheral has a hexagon of six comfortably springy buttons right all easily accessible by your thumb, circling a comfortable, lightly squishy pad for your opposable digit to rest on, and has an extended grip on the right side with a soft-touch rubber coating. Five PTFE feet on the bottom propel it effortlessly across surfaces, and there's a 5600dpi laser sensor inside for what definitely felt like precise, accurate tracking. Otherwise, it's pretty basic, and we didn't subject the mouse to a mouse sensor torture test, but the overall feel is fantastic. See our pictures below, and find the Naga Hex for pre-order right now on Razer's website. A rep says they'll ship later this month.
Jan 10, 2012Read Article >
Razer's Blade gaming laptop has spent quite a while in development, but it's finally coming in January for $2,799, and we were able to get our hands on it today at CES. We've learned that the laptop won't be customizable or upgradeable, so you'll have to be satisfied with the specs that Razer gives you. Luckily, those specs are pretty good: the Blade's got a Core i7 processor clocked at 2.8GHz, 8GB DDR3 RAM at 1333MHz, a 17.3-inch 1080p display, Nvidia GeForce GT 555M 2GB video card, 256GB SSD, and Razer's Switchblade user interface.
Jan 10, 2012
Razer has just unveiled its unique take on the gaming tablet, and we've just got some photos of the product on display under glass. We haven't actually gotten our hands on it yet, but we're working to get a close-up look as soon as possible.Read Article >
Update: Read our full hands-on!