Sunday, 13 January 2013

Best of... CES 2013 [Gadgets]

I'd actually forgotten that it was CES this week and first saw NVIDIA's Project SHIELD in a friend's RSS feed. My first impression was that it wasn't very pretty, and probably a device that some people will buy, fall in love with for a few months and forget about it soon after. After watching NVIDIA's press conference though, this is much more than is shown on the surface.

When you first hear that this is a handheld Android based gaming platform, you may think it's a portable OUYA, but from what NVIDIA had to say in their press conference, Project SHIELD has so much more to offer from the TEGRA 4 system. The biggest selling point for me is the Steam integration.

Ok, it's only for playing games on the same network as your PC, and it's actually running the game in Steam and sending out the video to the device, but it's the first step towards true portable cloud gaming. Looking back now, I think services such as OnLive were just too soon, and would hold up better in the market place of today and the future. The fact that SHIELD is also a full Android based system, it comes with all the goodness of a normal Android device (music, video, web browsing etc) which makes it an alternative and replacement for the multiple devices in the living room.

Talking of alternative places to get access to play games through Steam, Xi3's Piston seems to have brought us this mystical "Steam box" we've heard so much about and caused quite a buzz.

The Piston has some really interesting features, mostly so in the fact that it can be updated in a modular fashion, but after reading the tested article about the Piston, I'm not so sure that it's going to be a massive hit right away. It seems that Piston has some great hardware, but is also lacking in other areas which isn't going to push all the latest and greatest games to the TV at playable frame rates.

Samsung had a very strong press conference and showed off some really interesting products and ideas they are bringing to consumers. One thing that stood out for me is that they stayed true to there announcement last year about updating your TV with the latest hardware and software. By simply plugging in a box to the back of your TV, you can get all the latest features with the updated processing power of this year's newest models.

Sticking with TVs in press conferences, Panasonic didn't have a very strong press conference and most of their announcements were not all that impressive, but their YouTube send to TV feature looks really interesting.

It's a feature which allows you to use your mobile (and presumably tablet) as a remote control to send YouTube content directly to the TV screen, create a playlist and other smaller tasks, such as control the volume. For me this is another way in which I see the second screen becoming a part of everyday.

And here's some other cool stuff:

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