Razer – you can always tell by the type of booth/suite as to what a company’s expectations for themselves are, while you can tell how well they live up to that by how many people are in that booth. This year’s booth was bigger than last year’s, almost as big as Nvidias, but it was still way more crowded than either.
The big news from Razer was not an update on their silly prototype mineral oil cooled modular pc from last year, instead they focussed on two new products – Razer Forge and their open source VR system. Let’s start with the Forge because that’s closer to reality and far more interesting:
The forge is a small SnapDragon powered android box that plugs into your TV. It’s 1080p 60Hz compatible with an HDMI output. Super low power, but because it’s a mobile processor that doesn’t have to worry about battery life anymore it’s run a bit harder than most phones/tablets. Now on top of simply being a android box, it also features chromecasting, and also syncs your game saves from your android phone/tablet so that you can switch between systems quickly and easily. Now for the really interesting part. It also can stream games from your computer whether it be a laptop or desktop. It does so with low latency and unlike NZXT’s Doko, it does so at 1080p60 and it includes wifi so you don’t need to have cat5 throughout your house already.
So it’s packed with features, and it means you no longer need a HTPC as the combo of features means that it can do everything *but* play blurays. Of course some people already smart TV’s or chromecasts etc, but this still does so much more and all in one cheap package. It will retail as a package for $149 with one controller. Speaking of controllers. The bluetooth controllers also will have a new adapter so you can mount your phone to the top of it, kinda like a 3DS or a nvidia shield.
I never saw much point in the NVidia shield, but this seems like a much better idea to me. In addition to the console controllers, Razer are also launching a very lap friendly keyboard and mouse. While the keyboard is not built like a tournament style mechanical board, it’s plenty for light games. It has a hinge to fold into it’s holder/charger and that when extended locks into place. It can then be pretty securely placed on your lap. The wireless mouse also sits in the same charger so the system tidies away very attractively. The mouse is not too heavy, but is slightly resistive in it’s movements. This is because of a magnet system that means that the board can be held at a slight angle (obviously not upside down) and the mice won’t slide off. This is really nice. While you wouldn’t want to game for 6 hours on it, it’s one of the best keyboard/mice combos I’ve seen for TV gaming.
So overall we’re expecting great things from the Forge TV. It’s not due out until this summer, which is good news for NZXT who released their similar but less featured Doko today.
The second focus was Razer’s Virtual Reality headset:
This was not the only VR headset at CES. In fact there were dozens. Even since Oculus got bought a dozen more companies have sprung out of the woodwork. The “OSVR” boasts that it’s completely open source. It’s still in early stages however so the earliest thing to sell will be the development kit rather than the final product. It also has a sensor on the front that can integrate your hand rotation and position into the game. The example demo had you throwing balls of fire and ice at demons.
The interface was clunky however, I struggled to actually throw the balls, possibly because my arms are long. I did nearly knock someone out though, as I spun around the room (sitting is for sissies) with my arms flailing. The 3D functionality didn’t give much depth, but it did give the usual weird color distortion. The shared 1080p display also meant the whole experience lacked immersion and detail and felt like I was playing a console from 10 years ago. Of course this is all such early days for this technology, but for now, I felt far more immersed playing a triple wide surround setup from Dell of all people.
Lastly Razer had also updated their keyboards, mice and headsets to have full RGB functionality. The line is now called Chroma and all can be configured independently.