January 11, 2012, 8:22 AM — The official first day of CES 2012 continued the torrent of TV, tablet, and ultrabook announcements. Ultrabooks are hot this year, though I'm not sure why. They look cool, sure, but in practical terms what's the advantage of having a super-thin laptop?
So today I'm going to talk about gaming! These days of course most major gaming announcements take place at dedicating gaming shows like E3, Gamescom or the Tokyo Game Show. But CES takes place months from any of those big shows so we always get some news.
Last year one of the neatest gaming gadgets on the show floor was the Razer Switchblade, a small laptop dedicated to PC gaming. The Switchblade was a concept and never shipped, but Razer announced a variant, the Razer Blade, last summer and Cnet's Scott Stein found it on the CES showfloor. Razer says it'll ship at the end of the month. I'll believe it when I see it.
But that's 2011's cool Razer gaming gadget and this is 2012, so they had to offer something new. That new concept is Project Fiona, an odd handheld PC gaming device. It's got an Intel i7 powering a touchscreen device that'll run Windows 8 and off-the-shelf PC games, with a couple of 'hand grips' that act like a game controller. Fiona has accelerometers too, and Razer thinks we'll be seeing games designed specifically for Fiona (more likely we'll see games designed for Windows 8 tablets that'll run nicely on Fiona). Estimated price is "under $1,000" and they're saying it'll be out in the 4th quarter. The folks over at The Verge had some hands-on time and shared some video:
One last thing from Razer: a $249, Star Wars:The Old Republic-themed keyboard. I guess this falls under 'for the gamer who has everything.' Aside from looking all Star-Warsy, this keyboard justifies (?) its price by included ten "dynamic adapative tactile keys" and a trackpad that's also an LCD display. That last feature is pretty cool but come on, $249 for a keyboard?
OK let's move on from the barrage of Razer announcements and hit some other stories. How about a physical controller for your iPad (or other Bluetooth enabled device)? You know the story: dedicated handheld gaming systems are dinosaurs about to be driven to extinction by tablets and smartphones that have the horsepower to run great games. The on-going problem is one of controls. Sometimes a touch screen just doesn't cut it, right? If you agree, you might want to check out the SteelSeries Ion Controller. The wireless Ion includes dual analog sticks and all the other buttons you expect to find on a game controller. It's small enough to carry in a pocket and runs for 20 hours on a charge (and you can play while recharging). Still to be solved: the challenge of propping up your handheld device properly (how about a kickstand accessory?) and getting more app developers to support physical controllers.
Speaking of handheld gaming, the Playstation Vita launch is only a little over a month away and of course Nyko will be there to fill in any accessory gaps that Sony leaves open. Kotaku did a nice round-up of these, but in particular I liked the $30 "Speaker Stand" that also charges your Vita and comes with a remote. Should be a nice complement to watching Netflix on the Vita.
Next up we have not a product, but an announcement. We haven't heard a lot from streaming gaming service Gaikai lately, but yesterday they dropped a bit of a bombshell when they announced a partnership with LG. 2012 LG Cinema 3D TVs will get Gaikai in the second half of the year and LG will use the technology to allow owners to access the LG game portal service. In order to play, you plug a gamepad into a USB port on the TV and you're off and running. This is quite a coup for Gaikai since it was really looking like rival OnLive was going to own the streaming game service. I guess the battle isn't over. The Verge got some hands-on time with Gaikai on LG and shared some video:
Let's see, what other gaming news did we hear? Oh, some bad news for Playstation fans: Sony's Kaz Hirai told The Wall Street Journal that the Playstation 4 would not be announced at E3 2012. Of course that doesn't mean it won't be announced at The Tokyo Game Show or a stand-alone event.
Samsung is bringing it's Series 7 Gamer laptop to the US. This is a beast of a laptop with an Core i7 processor, a 2GB AMD Radeon HD6970M graphics card and a 1080P display. It'll be out in April for $1,799. Engadget has the story.
I think I'll leave off there. CES 2012 is an exhausting event to follow even virtually, and I'm sure I've missed some gaming goodness somewhere. If you notice any big gaps in my coverage, please leave a comment!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.