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Hardware Report - CES

Earlier this month, Carolyn Koh traveled to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While there, she had the opportunity to talk to a number of different game developers. Still, you can't go to CES without checking out the newest gadgets. Today, Carolyn gives us a look at some of what she saw.

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Apart from the media events, hardware companies show on the floor of the convention center. Most are in the Sands Convention Tech area or South Hall. I made the trek out to North Hall just for Razer as they had a meeting room rather than a booth. CES boasted a “gaming” section this year which was dominated by furniture type gamer accessories as most other game hardware companies had other CE lines, or simply stayed where they’ve traditionally exhibited.

I started off hunting for my usual suspects that I’d seen at previous CES – Logitech – lots of “Digital Lifestyle” goodness: new remote, wireless keyboard, music server – Saitek was in the Bellagio and I ran out of time – that’s one I regret missing and Patriot memory was in a private meeting room – oh well, I then moved onto the other interesting ones that had come across my email as a member of the media, and some I ran across on the show floor. Some of them are doozies, so without further ado, here are the “nifty” gamer stuff I saw at CES 2008 in Las Vegas.

We old stodgy gamers know about Lian Li cases. They make these great aluminum PC cases. Well designed and crafted, they’ve been, well… stodgy. Hank Chen was eager to show me that they have new designs with more “bling.” Proudly showing me this one that was made for AMD. The ATI Crossfire X Case in red anodized aluminum, with a Spider cut-out showing all your shiny-glowy gamer pr0n innards. Ten slide in/out drive bays, a bank of three 120mm fans in the front cover. Cool stuff.

Then Tagan Technology’s cooling systems and power supplies caught my eye. Now, that’s some gamer pr0n. Look at the hefty designer connectors on those babies. Account Manager Benson Tseng pulled out a PSU box and showed it to me. The unit came packaged in a well made zip case with proprietary cables all carefully shielded, solid gold plated connectors with twist locks and extra adapters in case you needed them. Quite a class act. A quick look at their website backed their claims of review awards although most of the sites are European sites, where were these guys when I was building my machine and hunting high and low for *anything* above 500W, quiet and not cost an arm and a leg?

Further down the aisle, the CoolIt guys were showing off their super quiet liquid cooling systems. Some of them worked with a system of radiators and convection rather then with fans. Having built more than one gaming PC and media server, their dual VGA cooling systems were of particular interest to me when I thought of the heat and noise generated by my setup. For those wondering if they would have to deal with messy liquids around their precious electronics, I’m happy to report that the CoolIt liquid cooled set ups are closed-loop and factory sealed.

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Corinex is a manufacturer of power line and phone line equipment, so their entrance into the gamer market with a device that creates a secure network over the electrical network of your home shouldn’t be a surprise. Shahab Moshajari was pleased to talk about how they’ve managed to leverage their industrial knowledge and technology, they’ve created affordable home networking connectivity kits, and now, a product known as Gamenet which will connect any device with an Ethernet connection – your PC, Xbox360, PS3, Nintento Wii, printer, etc. Way to create a wired LAN without having to fish Cat5 cables through your ceilings. GameNet uses the TCP/IP internet protocol through the electrical wiring system and boasts speeds of up to 200mps, and Triple DES/168 bit encryption for security.

The super cool award must go to TN Games and their 3rd space impact generating gear. Designed by a surgeon and gamer, they demo’ed two products. Their Vest and Helmet gives you gives you precise impact where it happens, as it happens. The vest and helmet is pneumatically powered and the control box is no larger than a breadbox (if anyone knows what a breadbox looks like). With the vest strapped on and the helmet on my head, I could have been pounded with body slams, crushed with G-forces, and blasted with bullet fire. I got shot up in the name of demoing the equipment and think I got 90% headshots from the rear. That’s one NPC AI I could learn to hate. I can hear your question now, “But are there any games that use this??” Yes. Call of Duty2 was re-released to make use of this technology and they offer their own multi-player FPS – Incursion. Both games ship with the vest for $189.99.

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More memory – I shop for high-performance DRAM only when it’s time for me to build a new gaming rig (mea culpa – it’s been a while) and I look for the ones we gamers lust over with tight CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS latencies. Always looking out for the bang for my buck. So when I ran across Super Talent boasting the world’s first DDR3-1866 memory, I had to stop and chat. After all, we can always use more options can’t we? By name of ProjectX and sporting a beefy heat sink, they have also pulled excellent reviews on their memory units.

The Game Zone this year had more than just furniture, although the Boomchair and X-rockers did look interesting enough to tempt me to give it a whirl. The pic below is of the X-Rocker. It has built in speakers and sub-woofers. As much as provide sound and music as to provide impact and vibration. There were three controls – volume, bass and vibration. The sound – particularly voices - was good and clear, and it was comfy, although like other testers, I soon preferred to lean forward to get away from the annoying vibrations at my back.

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