So, here it is, Sestren’s CES Coverage. There was quite a bit of awesome going that week, and so many things we could cover, but we’re going to narrow things down for you. So we’re going to give you a rundown of the Top 5 at CES. These are things I found most interesting, and most worth your time checking out down the road. They aren’t all necessarily gaming, but they at least have gaming applications. So let’s go through it now.
Head Mounted Displays
These have been around for a while, though they have never been quite up to par. I actually began this generation playing on Head Mounted Display. Sadly, it was SD resolution, and so was not ideal for my needs. Even so, the convenience was great.
For those of you who aren’t aware of what I’m referring to, Head Mounted Displays are basically are akin to Virtual Reality headsets. However their aim is to create the illusion of looking at a large TV screen. So it will be as if looking at say, 50″ or 60″ display at somewhere around 10-20 feet way, depending on the unit.
The biggest, problem so far, is the lack of any good resolution displays. Sadly, not much has changed, although Vuzix has a 720p set on the market now. Even, so they’re hard at work on all types, and uses. Such as a single eye unit to provide augmented reality and a HUD for real life, but which can also be used to overlay input from say, your phone or a tablet. Again, they still need some work, but are worth keeping an eye on.
As far as gaming goes, there wasn’t too big a presence at CES, but Microsoft did have a solid showing overall, despite their awful Keynote. They showcased a wide range of items we’ll be seeing down the road from them, and a few out now. Everything from Tablets, to games, to Kinect, to Windows 8.
Windows 8 and Tablets have the potential to be a big deal. There wasn’t much available to play with, but what I could use was very solid and responsive. Imagine a full Windows PC with an easy to use touch interface, everywhere you go.
Windows Phone is also something to keep an eye on, with sales picking up and an app store that is rapidly catching up to the bigger players. It’s got integrated Xbox Live and a good selection of games and handsets. There’s still some things we need to see, like more storage capacity and other minor hardware tweaks, but it’s already a solid platform.
Xbox was there as well, though with a focus on Kinect and XBLA titles. We’ve got some videos below for two upcoming XBLA titles. We managed to check out both, and they are very good and interesting titles, worth keeping an eye on.
The new Kinect is interesting in that we may see some kind of deeper integration with Windows 8 PC’s, and the added resolution and lessened interference and shorter range made for some cool tech demos. They were rending scenes in 3D on the fly based on our surroundings. Augmenting reality on the fly with clothes you could try on, and other mini games. Star Wars Kinect was also there, showing off the pod racing, which actually handled very well.
One thing you’re going to see a lot of at CES is TV’s. Last year they were heavy on pushing 3D to the masses, and they haven’t quite given up. However, they have also moved on. With some interesting new trends showing up this year.
The first is one that may actually be a practical use for 3D. Which is Dual View. We first saw this shown off by Sony at E3 a few years back, and it’s dependent on 3D tech. One person sees one thing, and a different person see’s another. You hear with earphones and see with special glasses. Alas, the glasses are a necessity, but at least this is something practical to use them for. Samsung even let you use the glasses as a mini-remote as well.
3D was also there, but it hasn’t garnered the consumer interest and for good reason. Even at CES, none of the tech impressed. There was 3D in every booth, and all it was good for was disorienting you and giving you headaches. There was only one glasses-free 3D TV that I could find, and it was even worse in terms of disorientation and the 3D was less pronounced.
Another minor trend which I think and hope will eventually overshadow 3D is higher resolutions. Although, to be honest, the 4K resolution was clearly better than what we have now, the difference was truly pronounced on an 8K TV being shown off by Sharp. THAT is what 3D should be. The picture was so clear and vivid, you could think you were looking through an open window. It did more to make you feel like you were there than any 3D could ever hope to accomplish.
However, the biggest trend seems to be Kinectifying your TV, or as they call them Smart TV’s. Everywhere you were seeing Kinect like devices being added to TV’s for motion tracking, facial recognition and voice commands. All the entries seemed to demo just great. However, we all know that they don’t always necessary work out as well in the really real world.
Now we get to the really meaty stuff. We glossed over the tablet stuff a bit in the Microsoft section, because there was one items we want to go into specifics for. Razer is a company that makes gaming PC’s and Accessories, and they do a damn fine job of it. They have an upcoming set of Keyboard, mouse and headset themed for The Old Republic that are just amazing. With customizable touch buttons and a sleek design, they make some truly enviable gaming products.
However, where they really stole the show, was in their Project Fiona Windows Tablet prototype. It will eventually be running Windows 8, but it ran 7 just fine at the show. Imagine, the power of a high end gaming PC in your hands, anytime anywhere. With the addition of some very well designed gamepad-like additions. The whole thing is being designed heavily on feedback from users, and keeps evolving so we don’t exactly where it well end up, but as it was, it handled like a dream.
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Intel Core I7, Discreet Graphics card which they wouldn’t disclose, multi-touch screen, gamepads on the side which may be removable or not. We were told it currently only gets about 2 hours battery when running a game, but they’re considering ways to increase that, and possibly a user removable battery. It’s should run around $1,000 when it releases. It’s likely not going to be for everyone, especially if you want something to last you the day, but if they can get 4 hours out of it, and a user replaceable battery, imagine running high end PC games anytime, anywhere.
So early on I got a message from a company, about a revolutionary new product. It sounded interesting, but I told myself, no way this will work as advertised. I figured I’d stop by anyways, just to see if it at least had potential. Boy was I surprised.
I walked up to an arcade Asteroids machine, and a quick explanation of what I need to do. Just look at what you want to shoot I’m told, and it will shoot it. I was skeptical, but the game begins and I do as I’m told. Just look at it with your eyes, and bam, the laser shoots, spot on. Amazing. No delay, very accurate. I’m blasting away at asteroids left and right, as fast I can look at them.
We went onto see demos of other applications, like say, looking through images, or navigating the Windows 8 start screen. The device is a bit bulky right now, but they hope to get it down to average webcam size. He mentions that there are so many applications, like for medicine. A doctor able to view and navigate through a patients files without ever having to use his hands. Or how about in a shooter? No more need to aim, just look at what you want to shoot at, and pull the trigger on your controller.
The tech is very impressive, and I can tell you, it works as advertised 100%. Unfortunately as he mentioned, there’s no efficient way to select things, but paired with a simple clicker or controller it makes for a great supplemental control. He also mentioned another cool scenario. Imagine you’re reading instructions, or a doctor reading a medical file. He skims through, but glosses over an important piece of info. Knowing you missed it, the computer calls your attention to some important information you missed. Enough talking though, check it out below for yourself.
Overall, CES was a blast and there plenty of other cool things going. Sony was showing Vita, and it is still definitely a very solid piece of hardware with some great capabilities. Nintendo showed off the Wii U again, though with almost no new information. The only new items being a hide and seek Mario game. There were phones and tablets aplenty. The Galaxy Note was of particular, uh, note. Overall for me though, the above stood out individually or because of the total of what they had on display. Sadly, the show is not game-centric, and we didn’t get a new Xbox announcement. I guess we’ll just have to wait for E3 for the Megatons.