Cool gaming gadgets at CES 2013

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show has closed its doors, leaving behind a veritable feast of gadget and tech news to digest. Some of the top gaming gadgets from the show include the Razer Edge gaming tablet PC, Steam Box prototypes, Nvidia’s Shield portable gaming device, the Lenovo Horizon 27-inch Table PC, the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, and of course, the plethora of Ultra HD 4K televisions.

Razer Edge Gaming Tablet PC

One of the most interesting gaming gizmos to appear at CES 2013 was the Razer Edge – Razer’s tablet PC designed for gaming, featuring add-ons such as a game-pad dock, a keyboard dock, and support for multiple gamepad controllers.

The Razer Edge is the end result of Project Fiona, a crowd-sourcing initiative which asked the gaming community to determine the specifications for the gaming tablet.

Two models have been created, the standard Razer Edge and the Razer Edge Pro, both featuring some pretty decent mid-range gaming PC components.

The reveal of the device certainly grabbed our attention, and while we are not sold on the product, it certainly is something we’d like to lay hands on.

The editors on CNET also thought it was pretty impressive, giving the device their “Best of Show” award.

Get details about the Razer Edge and its specifications here: Razer Edge gaming tablet revealed

Steam Box

Valve’s much-rumoured Steam Box project saw the light of day at CES 2013 – but not in the way we may have expected. Firstly, a company into which Valve invested – Xi3 Corporation – revealed their prototype for “a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors”. The project is codenamed “Piston“.

Later on during CES, The Verge managed to corner Gabe Newell for a rare interview and squeezed the big man for Steam Box info. Newell discussed Valve’s own internal hardware development project, referred to it as Steam Box, and revealed that the internal project name is “Big Foot“. Valve also has plans to tie this development to the mobile gaming space, a project they call “Little foot”.

This gives a tantalising peek at the future of gaming from one of the industry’s most prolific companies. Could Half-Life 3 be a Steam Box launch title?

The Verge voted the Valve as the their biggest story of CES 2013.

Nvidia Shield

Nvidia had a lot to show off at CES 2013. They kicked off with their Tegra 4 system-on-chip announcement – impressive in its own right – and then followed up with the reveal of their own Android-based portable gaming console (which is powered by the Tegra 4).

The device is a clamshell design, about the size of a plump Xbox 360 controller. It is a full Android device, meaning it can be used for all purposes, not just gaming.

Tech specs include a 5-inch 720p display, internal storage expandable via microSD, and 5 to 10 hours of gaming battery life. The device was shown off at CES playing games such as Hawken and Real Boxing on a 4K TV via HDMI.

Perhaps the most intriguing factor, Nvidia Shield boasts the ability to connect remotely to a desktop PC for tasks such as controlling Steam’s Big Picture mode and then streaming to the Shield. However, you will need a compatible Nvidia GPU to do this.

The Shield will also be able to connect to Nvidia’s cloud gaming platform, known as Nvidia Grid, although it will be some time before South Africa sees such services taking off in our local telecoms environment.

The Verge voted the Nvidia Shield as their biggest surprise at CES 2013.

Nvidia Project Shield
Nvidia Project Shield

Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC

Lenovo had an interesting variant of the tablet PC on show, which they have dubbed the Horizon Table PC. The concept has been out there for some time, but Lenovo is aiming to be first to consumer market with something viable.

The Horizon PC on show was a 27-inch device fixed to a stand and oriented horizontally. The self-contained PC can also be oriented vertically on its stand for use as a TV or desktop display. The device runs Windows 8 and can recognise up to 10 touches at a time.

Wheeled stands and joysticks are among accessories sold separately. Lenovo said that Horizon table computers would hit the market by mid-2013, starting out at US$1,699.

The idea is for it to be used as a multi-user, multi-touch device which can become a centre for communal activities. Immediate examples include multiplayer games or viewing the family photo album. It certainly removes the clutter and fuss of managing your collection of family board games.

Lenovo has worked with Ubisoft and EA to develop a range of group-oriented games tailored to the device.

The Horizon might also be an interesting way to interact with an Xbox 360 using Microsoft’s SmartGlass technology, or as an extension to a desktop PC.

Cnet recognised the Horizon as their best in the PC and tablet category.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table in use
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table in use

Microsoft IllumiRoom

During Samsung’s CES 2013 keynote, Microsoft revealed a new display technology that projects images throughout a room. IllumiRoom uses a spruced-up Kinect as a projector to display an extended image of the game screen onto the environment around the TV.

The system can “change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new game experiences”, according to Microsoft.

A proof-of-concept demonstration video (below) shows the game environment, fire and other particle effects being projected on the wall of a living room.

However, Microsoft could be stepping on the toes of an existing patent with this system.

Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift was one of 2012’s breakout Kickstarter stories – the virtual reality headset project received just over US$2.4 million in pledges, as well as moral support from top dogs in the gaming industry, such a John Carmack, Cliff Bleszinski, and Gabe Newell.

Still in the prototyping stage, the VR headset looks similar to a ski-mask – except the view-port is a pair of 640 x 800 displays – one for each eye. There is also a control box that handles DVI, HDMI, Micro-USB, and power. A key feature of the Oculus Rift is its motion tracking, which emulates head swivel and pitch in the virtual world on display. Full 360-degree immersion is therefore possible.

Getting some hands-on time with the device, The Verge said that the technical niggles still present in the prototype are easily forgotten due to the immersive power of the VR headset.

We can’t wait to try it. Dev kits ship out to backers in March 2013, and hopefully a commercial product release date will soon be revealed.

Ultra HD television

Ultra HD TV is a new category of display that caused a big stir at CES 2013 – and we can expect to be gaming on such displays in future. Ultra HD actually defines two categories: 4K UHDTV (2160p) has a resolution of 3840 × 2160 (8.3 megapixels), 4 times the pixels of 1080p; 8K UHDTV (4320p) has a resolution of 7680 × 4320 (33.2 megapixels), 16 times the pixels of current 1080p HDTV.Wikipedia

While the technology has been kicking around for many years, we are finally seeing viable consumer-grade 4K products on display. There are no price points on these resolution behemoths, but Samsung aims to bring 4K televisions to the US market as soon as Q1 2013.

The top 4K displays at the show included Samsung’s 110-inch Floating 4K Ultra HD TV, Panasonic’s 56-inch OLED Ultra-HD TV, and Sony Bravia 4K 55-inch and 65-inch 4K TVs.

Jeremy has taken a closer look at these devices in his Best TVs of CES 2013 roundup.

Samsung's UN85S9 Floating 4K Ultra HD TV
Samsung’s UN85S9 Floating 4K Ultra HD TV

Article courtesy of MyGaming – Top gaming gadgets from CES 2013

More gaming gadget news

Razer Edge gaming tablet revealed

Xbox SmartGlass app – how it works

Nvidia Project Shield gaming handheld revealed

Microsoft IllumiRoom projects game visuals onto walls

Valve confirms internal development of “Steam Box” hardware

Oculus Rift VR headset gets big name backing

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Cool gaming gadgets at CES 2013