Gaming at CES 2013: Providing New Ways to Play

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Gaming has had an unusually large presence at this year’s CES, with various new consoles, accessories, and other technologies showcased across the show floor. In a year that’s already expected to bring up to five new consoles, all of this news can understandably be overwhelming. So to help keep track of all this interactive madness, here’s a quick roundup of the notable tech from CES 2013 that will try to captivate all you screen tappers and button mashers in the near future.

Valve and the Steam Box

Perhaps the biggest gaming news to emerge from this year’s CES had to do with something nobody has even seen yet. That, of course, is Valve’s hotly-anticipated Steam Box console, which wasn’t quite revealed at the show, but was given further detail by none other than Valve CEO Gabe Newell. Concrete info is still scarce, but it was revealed that the Steam Box will come in various forms, will act as a server, and will come with controllers that utilize biometrics. Click here to see TechnologyGuide try and make sense of it all.

This whole new console craze was started by the reveal of the “Piston,” a modular, upgradeable mini-PC that makers Xi3 say is designed to work with Steam on HD displays. DesktopReview got some hands-on time with the device, but once again, it’s not quite clear whether or not this little guy will become an official Steam Box going forward. TG talks more about the device here.

Nvidia, Tegra 4, and “Project Shield”

One console that will be coming soon is “Project Shield,” a new handheld from Nvidia. It may not be the portable console’s name upon launch, but the Shield does mark Nvidia’s first foray into the gaming hardware space. It’s a unique looking device, reminiscent of an Xbox controller with a 5-inch, 1280 x 720 (294 dpi) touchscreen attached to it. It’ll also run on Nvidia’s newly-announced Tegra 4 chip, which is supposedly six times as powerful as the existing Tegra 3.

The Shield runs pure Android Jelly Bean, but will also give users the ability to stream PC games over a local network. Seeing Assassin’s Creed 3 streamed to a handheld without a hitch is certainly impressive, but users will need to make sure that they stay in the home and that their PCs are powered by particular Nvidia chips for everything to work. No pricing details were announced, and only a release window of Q2 2013 was given.

Whether or not the Shield will make a dent in the portable gaming space remains to be seen, but those who wish to learn more can check out TG‘s write-up here and NotebookReview‘s here.

Razer Edge: A Console/Handheld/Tablet/PC Gaming Combo

One of the more intriguing devices to come out of CES was the Razer Edge, the Windows 8 gaming tablet formerly known as “Project Fiona.” It’s a powerhouse for sure, coming with a 10-inch 1366 x 768 display, third-gen Intel Core processor (i7 with the higher-end model, i5 with the lower one), Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE GPU, 4 to 8 GB of RAM, and up to 256 GB of SSD storage space. This lets it run games from Dishonored to Dirt Showdown without much of a hitch.

From a technical standpoint, the Edge may be the most impressive gaming tablet out there, but what could really put it over the top is its versatility. A keyboard attachment turns it into a smaller PC, while a handheld controller attachment turns it into a portable console.

But while the Edge seeks to please gamers of all platforms, it does have some issues. For one, its battery life, like most gaming machines, isn’t quite ideal — eight hours when used just as a tablet, but only around two to four hours when playing most graphics-intensive games. Furthermore, this thing is just plain expensive: $999 for just the base station alone, and well over $1500 for all the bells and whistles that create the full experience. That might be too much for most consumers.

To get a more complete idea of what the Razer Edge is all about, head on over to TabletPCReview, which went hands-on with the device at CES.

Archos TV Connect Turns TVs into Android Tablets

Okay, so technically the Archos TV Connect was revealed just before CES. But it was still shown off at the show, and it still looks to be a nifty little device. Its goal is easy: make any TV an Android-based Smart TV. It runs pure, undiluted Android Jelly Bean, and comes with a big, bulky controller that, among other things, can play all the Android games — from Chrono Trigger to Grand Theft Auto III to Jetpack Joyride — that are available in the Google Play store.

It’s not just a gaming device, sure, but anyone who’d like to play Android games on the big screen should get some more details from TechnologyGuide here, and judge for themselves.

Wikipad, OnLive, Headsets, and More Round Out the Show

The Steam Box, Razer Edge, and Nvidia Shield were the major gaming announcements of the show, but there were a litany of smaller announcements that gamers may want to keep in mind for the rest of 2013. Below are a bunch of the worthwhile ones, in bite-size form.

The Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset was shown off once again. It’s still not close to being commercially available, but it appears even closer to taking gamers within their games’ 3D worlds. The future is coming, people.

Cloud gaming service OnLive continued its partnership with LG, extending its streaming service to the Korean company’s G3 Smart TVs. Fellow cloud company Ubitus made a similar move, bringing its cloud gaming service to the Google TV platform.

The Wikipad made an appearance at the show, despite earlier reports suggesting that it would be MIA. For those unfamiliar with the Android gaming tablet, the $500 device comes with a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS display, an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a gig of RAM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and an attached controller complete with the usual (and chrome) buttons, joysticks, and d-pad.

Turtle Beach, Thrustmaster, PDP, and Monster all announced new gaming headsets, just in case players need new, higher quality gear to hear children trash talk them. Genius, meanwhile, revealed the new, $100 Gila GX Gaming Series mouse, designed to give PC gamers added comfort during those marathon World of Warcraft sessions.

Leap Motion and Tobii were onboard to showcase their truly innovative motion control and eye tracking tech, which aren’t necessarily built for games but could still have serious implication for the medium going forward. TechnologyGuide got its hands on (or off, really) with both devices, so read its impressions here.

Intel used its press conference to display the early stages of its “perceptual computing” initiative, which appears to be making a similar “hands-free” push as Leap Motion. To demonstrate the beginnings of its tech, a motion-controlled edition of Portal 2 was demoed on stage. For more on Intel’s CES event, check TechnologyGuide‘s report here.

Finally, Qualcomm showcased its new StreamBoost router, which is said to let consumers manage the bandwidth being used by the various Internet-connected devices in their homes. That one will be released this spring.


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