Hot Gaming Gadgets From CES 2014
While products like curved televisions, 3-D printers and driverless cars garnered the most attention at the big CES show in Las Vegas, there were plenty of video-game-related products worth getting excited about.
From virtual reality (VR) headsets and wireless controllers for mobile devices to “cloud”-based PlayStation titles and souped-up gaming PCs, here is a closer look at some of the most impressive announcements from the show.
Already making waves with a product not yet commercially available, the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display from Oculus VR puts you “inside” the game thanks to immersive wraparound graphics and smart head-tracking technology.
Dubbed the Crystal Cove prototype, Oculus VR’s CES demo featured its newest (and smallest) headset. It boasts better 1080p 3D visuals along with reduced motion-blur and more advanced sensors (simulating a 360-degree view, including support for leaning).
There were a couple of cool demos, but the most impressive was a dogfighting space simulation, EVE Valkyrie, which was similar (but better) than the EVR game demo shown at the E3 Expo in June.
Oculus Rift will be available late in 2014 or early in 2015.
Valve’s long-awaited news broke one day before CES: Steam is coming to the living room.
Best known for its hit games — including the Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal and Counter-Strike series — and the on-demand Steam service for computer gamers (now with 65 million active users), Valve has unveiled a number of partners creating console-like rigs that run the open-source SteamOS and access the successful Steam store.
Due out later this year, partners include heavy hitters like Alienware, Origin PC and Falcon Northwest, as well as lesser-known hardware companies. They all will launch living room machines — varying in size, power and price (ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand). Valve showed off its own box and controller design, too.
STEELSERIES STRATUS WIRELESS CONTROLLER
Millions of people play games on Apple’s mobile devices but depending on the game, a controller would be more conducive over touch screen controls (Grand Theft Auto, anyone?).
While there are some controllers you can plug into Apple’s iOS Lightning connector, the SteelSeries Stratus is the first Bluetooth controller for the platform, with support for more than 500 games at the App Store, and counting.
Available in black or white on Jan. 22, the Stratus ($99.99) has pressure-sensitive face buttons, analog stocks, a d-pad and shoulder buttons. Its battery last up to 10 hours between charges. Up to four people can play on the same iOS device at the same time.
A protective cover for the Stratus can be attached to the back of the controller for use as an added grip.
Other gaming highlights at the 2014 CES:
Available this summer, Sony’s PlayStation Now service will let you rent or buy PlayStation 3 games stored in “the cloud,” including a Netflix-like subscription model option. Along with support for PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4, Sony says these on-demand games will also work on some smartphones and tablets and even most 2014 Bravia TVs (read: no console required). No pricing has been announced yet.
Razer’s Project Christine is a modular computer concept that will allow gamers to build and customize their own PC — without requiring any prior technical knowledge, says the company. Razer’s first desktop PC promises to be a high-end solution for gamers. As an interesting twist, the company says the computer is kept cool with mineral oil.
AMD’s Project Discovery is an advanced Windows 8-based tablet prototype that can be used on its own or, when you want to get your game on, it fits into a cradle with familiar console-like buttons, sticks and pads on each side of the screen. The 64-bit machine is powered by a new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). AMD wouldn’t say if it will be commercially available but at the very least shows how far tablet gaming is coming along.