When it comes to desktops and notebooks, comparisons are certainly going to be made when it comes to gaming capabilities. CES 2014 does not disappoint when it comes to this highly profitable computer subculture, with many companies trying to either assert dominance, or bring the industry to new heights with their products and services. We take a look at a few names that made gaming big at the show this year.
Steam Machines were actually first announced at last year’s CES, but while Valve had their own thing going on, there were probably only one or two prototypes that were shown behind closed doors, and very few things were revealed. All we knew back
then is that they were very compact, uses PC components and runs on Valve’s proprietary operating system.
Fast forward a year later, and the company goes out in full force, announcing that more than 10 companies will be showcasing and selling Steam Machines, powered by the latest Intel Core processors alongside NVIDIA’s range of GeForce 700-series cards, running Valve’s own Steam OS. Some of the companies involved include Alienware, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm, GIGABYTE, ZOTAC, IBuyPower and Origin, amongst others. The first Steam Machines are expected to be sold around the middle of 2014, with Alienware confirming that they will be selling theirs sometime around March.
Steam Machines provide an interesting alternative to the gaming console ecosystem dominated by Sony and Microsoft, and allows users to play all the games that they’ve purchased on Steam directly on the living room television.
Razer Project Christine
Building your own custom PC may be very rewarding, but it’s also a rather tedious process. If you’re not technically inclined and don’t know which components go where and how they’re all put together, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time learning how
it all fits. Thankfully, Razer is currently embarking on a process that will hopefully eliminate all those tedious steps and make assembling your PC a piece of cake. That’s just what Razer aims to do with Project Christine.
What Project Christine is, is a modular PC system that makes it easy for even those who are uninitiated in the art of PC building to set up their own gaming rig. Instead of slotting components inside the motherboard, all one needs to do is pick and choose the module combination they need and using the PCI-Express architecture, the machine will automatically sync all the components. Besides making it easy to build, it is also convenient for those who constantly upgrade their machines to the latest specifications, and the modular nature of Project Christine makes it easy for even the layman to replace the parts needed.
Sony PlayStation Now
The Sony PlayStation Now service was unveiled at CES, and with it, the dawn of a whole new way for console games to be played. Starting with the Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, gamers can utilise the console’s internet connectivity to stream video games from the cloud, instead of having the games installed locally on your machine. Having bought the game streaming service Gaikai and implemented it inside PlayStation Now, owners of both consoles can stream games from a huge library of titles from the PlayStation 3 era, first from the PlayStation 4, followed by the PlayStation 3, expanding to the PlayStation Vita, BRAVIA TVs and other Sony and non-Sony devices. PS Now will begin a Beta program in the US at the end of January with an expected full roll-out in the US this summer. It hasn’t been confirmed as of yet how much Sony will charge for the use of this service, and if it will be behind the PlayStation Plus paywall or not.
Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove” Prototype
Virtual Reality headsets are nothing new. They were popularised in game arcades in the late 90s, but never really gained any real fanfare beyond that, and eventually died out. With advancements in various technologies such as graphics, computing and optics, Oculus decided to take a dive by Kickstarting a project that aims to bring back the glorious days of VR headsets and transforming the way people played games. The Kickstarter project was a major success, but for all intents and purposes, the Oculus Rift is still a product which is in its development stages. At CES this year, the company showed off its Crystal Cove prototype, and it looks as if the device is inching closer to being the finished product. Some of the updates to the new prototype include the reduction of motion blur, more sensors and a camera to track the position of both your head and body, allowing for a more accurate movement simulation. On top of that, the Crystal Cove model also comes with a 1080p OLED display that provides excellent view of the game you’re playing, making it more immersive.