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Seen at CES 2007 Part 2

General Article By Carolyn Koh on January 17, 2007

Seen at CES 2007 Part 2

Carolyn Koh started her CES coverage this year by taking a look at some of the technologies being displayed. Today, she ends our coverage in the same way as she looks at a varitey of different pieces of hardware.

Granted, CES is not E3, I had to hunt and ask for gaming hardware and received promises of information and pictures. Quite a bit of “Oh yes we do, but we don’t have it with us,” was heard and some booths I never found, due to the confusing nature of several different locations and exhibitors scattered throughout, although some were grouped somewhat, I covered the “game zone” and “tech zone” but again, as this isn’t E3, not all exhibitors showing gaming equipment are cross-listed.

Most of the hot stuff was seen at the two media events, but I did run into Patriot Memory who announced their DDR2, 1260MHz high performance memory modules – over-clockable to 1302MHz – totally drool-worthy. John Diamonon, Patriot Memory’s Marketing Manager also informed me that their memory modules were picked by Maximum PC magazine to kick-off their 2007 Extreme Machine Tour.

 

A totally cool device I had the chance to test was Headplay’s Personal Cinema System. Comprising of a 5oz. headset that provided a virtual 52” cinema screen in front of your eyes, the processing unit and attached remote, the unit accepts a composite video, component video and S-video signal in the formats of NTSC, PAL and SECAM, runs the software to manage the system and has a CF slot and 2 USB connections. It also enjoys universal connectivity, making it compatible with virtually any device that has video out. Pretty nifty huh? What a way to watch movies stored on your Ipod or laptop.

Each eye focuses individually, from +3 to -6 and also centering also adjusts individually. I had difficulty with fitting at first to their anxiety (it’s designed to accommodate 95% of human skull shapes). It wouldn’t stay up and I had to hold it up with a finger. It kept sliding down, smearing my eye-makeup and hence fuzzing the view, but when another, not quite so beat up demo visor unit with a different headpiece insert was handed to me, it sat perfectly on my forehead, I twiddled with the focus slightly... Game on!

 

What can I report about it? Sweeeeet! It’s designed to provide downward peripheral vision so I could see the keyboard easily. It was so real; I kept turning my head trying to see my opponent in Quake! I gave you guys the specs for a reason. Totally drool-worthy also equates to dollar bills. They expect to launch this baby in April of this year for a cool $499, going head to head with Icuiti’s DV920 (http://www.icuiti.com) which retails for the same price.

Also at CES was Ageia Technologies who gave me a quick run down on what they did, which basically was make and market a graphics accelerator card plus a physics engine. Several games currently use their engine and I was given a demo of Auto Assault before and after, as well as several other PC games – some in development. I was amazed by the interaction possibilities – brushing through leaves and foliage instead of walking through the objects or getting stuck on them, life-like liquid and cloth effects. A cloak actually rippling like cloth does when a character walks, canvas that rips realistically when shot at or sliced with a knife, molten lava that splashed turgidly. In one word, impressive. Check it out for yourself on demo trailers downloadable from http://www.planetphysx.com or the official site itself.

A “cute” mention goes out to Artix Entertainment’s AdventureQuest – (http://www.battleon.com) – a free web-based Flash game I played and was totally hooked on a few years ago, a game I turned to often during lunch and coffee breaks. They’ve tempted me into Dragon Fable now… Curse them!

Totally unexpected was a new mmorpg which can be played on your portable devices as long as they are running on a Windows platform. Seen at the booth of SmartCell Technology – a developer of mobile software and services – was their new Shadow of Legend mmorpg being demo’ed on a PC, a cell-phone and a PDA. I chatted with Bruce Wang, the President & CEO of SmartCell Technology who gave me some details, but stressed that the game was still in development, meaning that details will probably change.

 

The main feature to remember here is that gameplay controls are designed to be simplistic because it is a cross platform mmorpg designed to be played on mobile devices such as your cellphones and PDAs. The camera view is three-quarter top down, but despite those restrictions, the characters, landscape and critters I saw running around in game was graphically well done with rich textures and detailed as was possible within the small screen form factor.

 

What’s there to do in SoL? Well, lots. There are 12 professions listed on the current website with promises of more to come, and you can ride slime but you have to buy a cushion to place on top of it first. There’s PvP planned in this world, and beta projected to begin in three months.

Also seen was Wolfking’s new circular gamer keypad but the right “talking head” was not there to get specs and beauty-shots from and one I encountered even tried to sell one to me! I was able to get through to the right guy and here’s a picture. Looks pretty simple, yes? 55 keys that you can map. Count them if you don’t believe me.

 

Remember those old 3rd party game controllers that rapidly fell apart? The ones being manufactured these days look much better, and often are improvements on the original. Nyko showed off their improved Wii batteries with longer lasting power, and ribbed rubber, contoured hand grips for those prone to throwing their Wii controllers. Also sighted were Guitar Hero game controllers.

 

I’m sure there were other hardware manufacturers which had gaming gear that I did not find, but time was short, the halls were huge and far from each other and apart from the ease of speaking to manufacturers at the media events, finding the others were partly diligence by checking ahead of time, their PR people contacting me and pure luck when I stumbled over them on the show floor.

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