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CES Hardware Roundup, One

By Carolyn Koh on January 13, 2010 | General Articles | Comments

CES Hardware Roundup, One

The gamer bling that caught my eye & my imagination

The Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas is a showcase of the latest and greatest in consumer electronics. Some years, there's not so much neat stuff for PC gamers, some years there is. My first stops are always the Pepcom Digital Experience and the ShowStoppers media events which frankly are valuable in that I don't have to traverse the depth and breath of the Las Vegas Convention Center in hunt for cool new gadgets to share with our readers here at mmorpg.com.

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Crucial Ballistix DDR2 & DDR3 Tracer Memory modules are not just pretty, they are functional. Crucial has always had great reviews for their performance memory, but these load on the bling. A row of 12 LEDs in your choice of red, blue or green actually show memory activity along the memory module.

SSDs - solid state drives are getting affordable and are coming away from the OEM into the retail realm, and Kingston was present to show off not only their high performance HyperX DDR2 & DDR3 memory modules, but their SSDs and ran movies showing the robustness of the format in comparison to HDDs by doing nasty things to them, from running them over with a truck, to shooting an arrow through them, and still being able to boot up a laptop with the windows operating system contained. The amusing series of videos can be found on Youtube.

A testament to Kingston's functional memory modules is that Main Gear, a boutique computer builder uses their modules exclusively. Main Gear sets themselves apart by concentrating on clean, efficient designs and eschews the bling. No running lights or case art at this builder. The number of awards this small company has won is remarkable and they pride themselves on customer service. CEO Wallace Santos showed me the owner's binder, showing me spec sheets and the computer builder's name and signature. "Once you buy one of our machines, a builder is assigned to your computer and he calls you to determine how you want your machine built and if you have any particular needs or programs you will want to run or installed," he said. CTO Chris Morley added, "Our clients run from gamers to architects and lawyers, and they all want the exact same thing. A quality build and good customer service." The box they showed, their top model by name of The Shift was impressively quiet even when the fans on the 3 SLI video cards cranked up. A solid steel chassis and brushed aluminum panels, a vertical layout for better heat dissipation, a separate compartment at the bottom of the box for the power supply and their own custom designed, closed loop liquid cooled CPU cooler. No bloat ware is installed, just the programs the customer wants, and they've managed to start their systems at just above $2,000 for their high-performance models.

Touch Screen displays are all the rage this year and practically all laptop and notebook manufacturers were trotting out their latest and greatest, but the one that caught my eye were the HP monitors. Yes, Hewlett Packard. Incredibly sharp at 1920p resolution with a price point of $425 for the 24" and $289 for the smaller, featuring their proprietary IRS technology (no one could tell me what the acronym meant though). Photos just don't do them justice as the larger was demo'ed to me with complex animated modeling, no tearing, smearing or artifacts as the model was dragged around the screen.

NVidia played coy with their new GF100s kept well enclosed in the PCs as they demo'ed them using a short bit of gameplay showcasing PhysX effects and 3-D technology. Due in the first quarter, they are expected to be released at a competitive price.

Asus had their usual drool-worthy displays behind acrylic and Gunnar Optiks showed their new 3-D glasses. Comfortable and solidly built, if you are in the market for a pair of 3-D glasses, I'd go with an optical company. I'm also pleased to see more models targeted at women and a kids line will also be launched soon.

Remember the Hillcrest Loop? Merely a prototype a CES ago. Now a reality and rather much talked about in the Home Entertainment arena. The software is contained in the USB stick and the Loop is the controller, using RF technology, you don't actually have to point the thing at the screen. A shake centers the cursor and you're off pointing and clicking on your PC, MAC or PS3. Not terribly useful for MMOs but really nifty for HE applications and I was impressed with the speed at which it re-engaged considering the number of signals that must be going on in at a busy CE show.

With MMOs and online gaming beginning a transition over to consoles, we can't ignore the peripheral manufacturers and Nyko has consistently done a good job with third party controllers and chargers. This year, they showed their integrated new Wii remote with Nintendo's MotionPlus Technology built into the wand, and a new induction based (magnetic) charge station. Which prompted me to ask if I could trade my first-gen station in - the one which I had to pull the wrist strap just so to make sure it made contact and was charging.

Not forgetting the furniture our hardware resides on, Herman Miller had a lust-worthy set up. Already renowned for their comfortable ergonomic task chairs, they were showcasing their Envelop table and Setu chair. A table that moves with you as you lean back in your chair. Much more solid than it looks, the surface had a nice slightly rubbery tactile feel, palm depressions on the ends to assist in pulling it towards you, and smooth. Very smooth glides. Those brave, brave people had two monitors, a laptop and drinks on that table as I sat in the chair and they adjusted the settings of both the table and the chair to my weight and strength and I shoved them both back and forth. No shakes, no spills is a testament to the build. When I hit the lottery, a set up is mine.

And last but not least, the boothbabes. They are hardware aren't they?

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.