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Let’s start 2010 with a bang! (A small one.)

January 8, 2010

The gateway to Gaming Heaven.

So there hasn’t been a post since Jewish Dave’s Bejeweled post.  I apologize for the long hiatus.  Sometimes my life exists outside of this tiny website, unfortunately.  Now, for those of you who pay attention to technology, video games,  or read the newspaper, you know all the world’s buzzing about one thing.  Yes, this “one thing” is located right here in my city, Las Vegas, NV.  I’m talking about The 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, the trade show where millions of people in the technology and entertainment industry from all over the world converge.  It is a place where exciting, new market-disruptive innovations, as well as some simple upgrades to old pleasures get showcased for the world to see.  Normally, one has to be invited, or be a member of the credited press to attend.  However, I was very fortunate (and very thankful!) able to work with the very talented and kind Richard Hart.

If you don’t know who he is, Richard Hart is the creator and host of that old Discovery Channel TV show, The Next Step, which showcased the latest in cutting-edge technology.    He also hosted CNET Central, which aired here locally on the Sci-Fi (SyFy) Channel.  Currently, he hosts Next Step 2.0, and is also broadcast on ABC 7 in San Francisco. Based on credentials alone, you can see this man is a true veteran in the technology world.  He’s also one hell of a journalist.  Seeing how quickly he can work from looking at a product, to devising a cohesive news mini-segment (on the spot nonetheless) was something to behold.  I also got the great opportunity to work with his producer/videographer Steve Kotton.  I have to say I learned a lot from the experience, and I hope one day I can have the pleasure of  working with them again.

The man, Richard Heart with Paro developer Takanori Shibata.  Steve Kotton on camera.

The man, Richard Hart with Paro developer Takanori Shibata. Steve Kotton on camera.

The CES Experience

With that said, CES was a total joy to attend as well.  I didn’t really get to browse very many booths, due to the fact that I was working, I did however get to spend a good chunk of the second day walking the show floor for pleasure rather than work.  I was very impressed with all the companies that showed up to showcase their product.  However, I want to focus our attention on mainly the subject that we all hunger for: Gaming.  The Gaming Showcase, in the North Hall, was very modest, compared to the 800-pound gorilla that is E3 or TGS, but, there were some gadgets that caught my eye.

First up, is The Peregrine, a sort of evolution of our beloved Power-Glove, but this time for the PC.  This glove is pretty sick in my opinion.  It possesses U.S. military grade sensors in the glove that act as touch-points.  Each touch-point basically can be mapped to a certain key on your keyboard.  So not only does this cut wrist strain, due to its ability to be played anywhere, it also has been proven to increase actions per minute, which are vital in RTS games such as Warcraft, DOTA, HON, or even Company of Heroes.  It’s also sports great, well ventilated cool spots, so those with sweaty-palm syndrome should have nothing to fear!  The glove is washable, although they urge you to handwash the product gently, since it’s made of a light fabric material.  The Peregrine is also very aesthetically pleasing, so at least you can look cool while you kick some ass.  The only setback in my opinion (besides the MSRP of $149.99, which is a bit steep for younger, broke gamers) is that it is in fact, ONLY for PC.  The good news is, they are working on console versions, but there really is no word about what kind of time frame we’re looking at.

The acoustic foam helps cancel the noise on the unexposed sides.

For you audiophiles, there was a smaller booth that had a product called the Sound Egg.  Think back to Men In Black, remember the little Ovalia Egg Chairs?  Can’t remember? You could always try Google.  Okay, great, now that we’re on the same page, just imagine the same chair, but outfitted with speakers inside the shell, and housed with acoustic foam.  The chair connects via RCA cables to any receiver.  I sat inside to play some Modern Warfare 2, and was blown away.  The chair’s acoustic foam actually cancelled most of the noise surrounding it, but directly in front of the egg, the noise shot forward.  The speakers inside were ordinary car stereo speakers with a subwoofer in the seat.   Unfortunately, they weren’t very clear if you could actually insert your own speakers.  I’m pretty sure with some homemade hacking, someone can make it.  The model shown here, is outfitted with a genuine leather seat, and it retails for 1700, the non leather version was 1400.

One other notable sound item was XFunctional’s Xrocker Vibe.  Essentially, it is a subwoofer that you stand on.  The subwoofer itself is overclocked, to produce a deep bass that vibrates beneath your feet.  It acts like a stage, so you can feel every bass-line, guitar lick, or turntable scratch for games such as Rock Band, Dj Hero, and Guitar Hero.  Sadly, this only seems targeted to that audience, and once that fanbase dies, then so does this very niche product.

As far as games go, I got to check out Lego Universe, a new MMOG (Not MMORPG) being developed by NetDevil.  The game is geared towards a more casual, if not, younger, audience due to the fact that your character (or minifig, as they call it) doesn’t die.  Instead, your minifig is just blown apart, and it’s up to you to rebuild it.  Also, I noticed you don’t grind for levels, which is why I dropped the RPG.  Instead, the player builds their character up by completing challenges.  There are no spells to learn, there are no classes and jobs to take.  So what’s the point? Well, pretty much, completing challenges and quests earns you plastic and Lego pieces which can be used to build anything your brain can imagine.  I only was able to play for about an hour, since the floor was closing, but overall the experience was fairly fun, and should keep kids hooked for hours.  The booth also offered Beta sign ups, which I gladly wrote my name down, so I should be able to tell you more once testing commences.

There was also, one more game that I did play.  It’s a bit more well-known: Bioshock 2’s multiplayer. Which I won’t get into now.  However, do check back soon to read my impressions with the game.  I will say this about it though: it’s a lot of fun.

With my attendance at the show concluded, I was a bit sad to have not received any super cool swag.  I did get a shirt from IGN for playing Bioshock (the shirt is for women, ugh anybody want it?) I did get a little Lego figure of my Lego Universe Character, I received a hand shaped back massager from Peregrine, and all sorts of literature.  However, I think the coolest swag that I could actually get was production experience working alongside Mr. Hart, as well as my first, legit Press Badge.

Thank you Richard Hart, and Next Step!

Thank you Richard Hart, and Next Step!

Oh, and be sure to check out the gallery below!

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