After a few humid and sweaty days in Tokyo, TGS 2012 is drawing to a close. While the public days continue through the weekend, us media types are headed back to our respective homelands until next September. The lasting impression from the week — aside from eating massive amounts of gyoza — will undoubtedly be the news Sony dropped the day before the show started at its own press event. A new, even slimmer PS3 is on the way and two new colors for the PS Vita were outed — at least for Japan. On the show floor, though, we encountered some peripherals well-suited for other gaming tech like Nintendo’s 3DS XL, Xbox 360 and PC rigs. You can peek at those for yourself in the Sony Tokyo Game Show gallery that follows and relive all the action in the wrap-up that lies just beyond the break. Also, don’t forget to check out our pals over at Joystiq for more coverage from this week’s happenings.
The Beats by Dr. Dre badge has usually been attached to headphones and the occasional laptop or smartphone. We’ve never really seen it attached to dedicated speakers, however, and that’s where both an FCC filing and a sighting at UK retailer HMV’s online store raise a few eyebrows. The House that Dre Built appears on the edge of launching the Beats Pill, a Bluetooth wireless speaker with four drivers and a shape that more than explains the medicinal name. While we don’t know just how much of that signature Beats thump we’ll get, we do know from the FCC that the Pill can serve as a speakerphone, carries an aux-in jack and will last for a typical 8.5 hours on its USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery. There’s also signs of a red version of Beats’ Mixr headphones coming at the same time. HMV has publicly scoured its pages of any trace of a ship date or price for the Pill, but cached copies point to a £170 ($276) price and a release around September 28th — not necessarily trustworthy figures, but they may be in the ballpark. Our only question is whether or not we’ll get a dose of the Pill in the US.
Blue Microphones Mikey Digital portable microphone for iOS devices hits shelves, offers mobile tracking for $100
The second of Blue Microphone’s CES trio has broken cover. Mikey Digital, a mobile recording peripheral for the iPad and iPhone is now available at select retailers. If you’re in need of a refresher, the retooled version of the original Mikey tracking unit connects to you Apple smartphone or tablet via the dock connector. The mic houses the same two condenser capsules found on the more robust Snowball and Yeti USB mics while sporting built-in sensitivity control and CD-quality analog / digital conversion. A 3.5mm audio jack is included for monitoring or either stereo line-in or mic-in — if you’re looking to tack on a few more gadgets when recording with the 230-degree rotating kit. USB pass-thru allows for charging while in the midst of a session and a LED clipping indicator keeps tabs on volume levels to ensure the best results. If all of that sounds too good to pass up, the Mikey Digital will hit your wallet for $99.99 just as soon at you can enter your shipping info.
Hot off the heels of the more modest Wacom Cintiq 22HD’s introduction, the outfit has announced a new version of its 24HD pen display as well. Labeled the 24HD touch, the upcoming offering adds multi-touch functionality to the company’s 24-inch input device — just as the name would suggest. The added features don’t stop there. A touch-enabled 24HD also touts an improved display that shows 1.07 billion colors while covering 97% of Adobe’s RGB gamut and implementing RGB backlighting that improves on-screen color rendition. Similar to the sans-touch offering, you can expect to utilize Express Keys and Touch Rings to customize your workflow for maximum efficiency in addition to the touchscreen. When the 24HD touch hits shelves, it’ll play nice with Windows 8 and will work just fine without installing drivers. In order to customize those pricey multi-touch commands, though, you’ll need the requisite software.
If you splurged for the regular ol’ 24HD, we can understand your frustration. However, Wacom says that it intended for the touch model to be released at the same time as the pen-only version, but the development took a bit longer than anticipated. Part of the reason for the delay was the extra time needed to perfect features like palm rejection in the kit’s software. The peripheral company also hopes that software developers will take the gesture tech and create features that will showcase its full range of potential — your move, Adobe. Itchin’ to snag one already? Well, you’ll have to wait until sometime in August to get your hands on this model and be prepared to shell out $3699 for the pen display ($1100 more than the previous release). Need a bit more info before emptying your savings account? Hit the PR button for all the particulars or take closer look in the gallery below.
JBL is known for its portable speakers, but an FCC filing has revealed that it’s willing to make speakers that are almost inconspicuous. The Soundfly BT would represent your everyday Bluetooth speaker save for the very uncommon ability to optionally plug directly into a wall outlet, skipping the power cord. Shades of the previous-generation AirPort Express, anyone? There’s not much mystery in other areas, but the 20W stereo output is unusually powerful for something small enough to hang off of a hotel room’s power port. Between the manual and live photos, about the only riddles left are the Soundfly BT’s official release date and price.
AOC has a bit of a long-term memory issue: it claims the Aire iPlay E2343Fi is the first computer monitor to have a built-in iPhone and iPod docking station. Nope. But don’t let that deter you from checking out the new 23-inch LCD, whose cradle in the base will both keep your Apple gear topped up as well as play movies and music through the display. The 10-watt speakers won’t exactly bring the house down, though they will let you take the headphones off. As an actual computer display, it’s a typical TN-based panel with a 1080p resolution, a quick 2ms pixel response time and a boldly claimed 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Those who find a separate dock or (gasp) wires too much can officially spend $280 for an Aire iPlay of their own today; Amazon and other shops have already knocked the price down to a more palpable $230.
The idea of creating a full-fledged laptop companion to a smartphone isn’t new — just ask the former Palm team — but rarely has it come across as so pretty. Clamcase’s upcoming Clambook, while it has more than a slight hint of MacBook Air about it, is really meant as a large canvas of sight and sound for an Android phone or iPhone. Although the Clambook can at least be used as a big, 16:9 ratio display for an iPhone, the emphasis is clearly on more Google-inclined users that can use an MHL port: the one cable provides audio, video, power, an Android 4.0-native keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad. More recent Motorola phone owners might get the most out of it, since Webtop’s full-size Firefox browser and windowed interface will kick in without needing one of Motorola’s proprietary docks. We’re still waiting on many basic details, like exact device support and the all-important matter of pricing, but the Clamcase should be ready for supersized Real Racing sessions by the holidays.
We’ve seen iHome launch a multitude of sleek and useful peripherals aimed at the army of slabs out there, and its newest creation isn’t an exception. Dubbed the iDM5 Executive, this workstation’s designed to make typing on one of those iPads or Tabs a whole lot easier by giving you access to a full set of physical QWERTY keys. Aside from the keyboard, the iDM5′s also packing Bluetooth capabilities alongside a 3.5mm audio jack, so despite the “i” shining from the outfit’s name, the add-on isn’t exclusive to iOS devices. Furthermore, iHome added two USB ports, allowing you to keep the juice flowing on your smartphone / tablet while getting some “work” done. The iDM5 is priced at a hefty $129.99 and you can snatch it up from the iHome site linked below.
Prodigious piles of peripherals — that’s what Razer has in store for you — all of them bearing the mark of Mass Effect 3. Most of the goods are simply rebrands of existing products: the Chimera wireless headset, the Vespula mouse pad, Onza 360 Tournament Edition controller, BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard and Imperator gaming mouse all get slathered in red and black and slapped with an N7 logo. The Bioware-branded electronics are accompanied by a messenger bag ($80) and iPhone case ($25). All will be hitting shelves next month for a roughly $10 premium over their unlicensed versions.
While most of us play games purely for their entertainment value, an elite few get their game on while calling themselves “professionals.” These superstars of simulated battle make the rounds in various tournaments, including, most notably, Major League Gaming Pro Circuit championships. Now those digital athletes, as well as the masses of seasoned “amateurs,” can compete with professional (or at least officially licensed) equipment — we’re talking about gear like Mad Catz’ Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Controller for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This Major League gamepad promises to give competitive gamers a professional, customizable edge over their opponents with swappable “ProModule” thumbsticks and d-pads — invoking the customizable spirit of Mad Catz’ transforming RAT mouse. We gave the PlayStation 3 edition a chance to make its rodent cousin proud. Read on to see if it lives up to its professional branding.
Ready to give your right thumb a workout? We just tested our hand stamina with the recently-outed Razer Naga Hex Gaming Mouse. The programmable, six-button side panel also sports a thumb rest in the center of the control set — something we found to be a nice touch. If the stock feel of the buttons doesn’t exactly suit your gaming style, you can switch them out for two other heights for a better grasp of things. Shipping this spring, it’ll set you back $80. So is the Naga Hex a sound investment? Read on to find out.
The first thing we noticed about the Naga Hex was how lighting fast it was. We didn’t experience any lag in the movement, something we’ve come to count on from Razer peripherals. There was the slightest bit of travel with button set on the right side, though, which is something that could change once you pop on those interchangeable heights. Those side buttons also boast speeds of up to 250 clicks per second, making those all-too-important macros keep pace with your MW3 tactics. Naga Hex is the first Razer device to sport Synapse 2.0, a cloud-based service that manages all of your custom settings even when you head over to mates house. Scroll wheel and buttons up top work like a charm as well, making it a nice piece of kit to add to your gaming rig.
You know what $549.95 gets you in the camera world? About 90 percent of a T3i. Or, you know, a flash. Nikon has just outed the proper successor to the Speedlight SB-900, and at over half a grand, it best be packin’ more than just bright lights. The Speedlight SB-910 touts an enhanced operating system and graphic user interface, and comes equipped with a wide zoom range as well as FX / DX-format identification that optimizes zoom settings based on the camera body. The company’s also promising better battery life and a bolstered thermal cut-out function — which offers protection against damage to the flash panel and body from overheating during continuous flash use — not to mention an improved LCD and the ability to be used as an on-camera flash, wireless commander or remote. You’ll get a trio of illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even), and it’ll be shipping here in the US in just over a fortnight. Here’s hoping it’s not too late to add a last-minute crush to your wish list.
You know what’s great? Mechanical keyboards — what with their satisfying clicks. You know what’s less awesome? Having to listen to that obnoxious racket all day. Razer claims you can have your cake (in this case, tactile feedback) and eat it too (blessed silence!) with its BlackWidow Stealth Editions. These are, more or less, the same boards that debuted last August, but with quieter switches and a matte finish. Both models are available now, with the same programmable keys and on-the-fly macro recording, while the Ultimate version adds “extreme anti-ghosting” to its already impressive noise pwnage. The standard model will run you a cool $80, while the Ultimate weighs in at a hefty $140. Check out the gallery below, as well as the PR and video after the break.
Razer’s Sixense electromagnetic orb threw around plenty of intradimensional portals at CES, but sadly the company wouldn’t let us play. Today at E3 2011, however, we were finally handed the reins. Those twin sticks are impressively responsive and accurate in the specially-made Sixense levels for Portal 2, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to physically stretch out blocks, reposition portals with a twist of the wrist and physically throw objects through the air. However, we got the impression that outside of games particularly designed to work with the sticks, it might be a different story. Waving the right stick around works pretty adequately for controlling the mouse cursor, but when we exited out to Windows, the sticks didn’t work — apparently, controls have to be mapped separately in a desktop client to work with the OS and other games or programs. We don’t think many PC gamers will mind the six-foot range and wired tether here, but it does restrict those hoping to kick back with a game on the big screen.
We also got to try Razer’s new “4G” dual-sensor technology, which will be rolling out to new Mamba and Imperator gaming mice right away — it pairs a laser sensor and an optical sensor for more precision when lifting mice off a surface for advanced first-person shooter mousing techniques, not to mention 6400dpi tracking. We took it for a spin with a handy Razer Mamba, and we immediately fell in love — whether we flung the mouse around haphazardly, furiously swiped it across the mousepad or simply tried for a quick headshot, it kept up with us. The cursor does creep if you lift and drop very rapidly, though, and without an original Mamba to compare with, it’s hard to say just how much better it was. Thankfully, that won’t be much of a factor in your purchasing decision: you’ll pay the exact same $130 for the Mamba or $80 for the Imperator when they hit shelves this month. PR after the break.
OnLive outs universal wireless controller, seamless Facebook integration and more — we test the tablet experience on an HTC Flyer (video)
We told you that OnLive was coming to tablets, TVs, and other devices a while back, but perhaps you were vexed by the thought of controlling Duke Nukem via touchscreen or IR remote. Well, worry no more, as OnLive’s made a Universal Wireless Controller to give you console controls on any OnLive-compatible device. The company’s secret sauce lets it connect directly to your slate or smartphone, and there’s also a USB dongle for use with PCs and non-Vizio TVs. We asked company CEO Steve Perlman what was in his wireless witches’ brew, but all he would tell us is that the black magic isn’t Bluetooth. We got to see the new controller in person, and there’s no discernible difference between it and the one that comes with the MicroConsole — they look the same and they play the same, plus the new gamepad has an 802.15.4 radio for backwards-compatiblity with the MicroConsole, too. Unfortunately, that dongle’s not yet ready for prime time, but we’re that it’ll be a “little bit bigger” than Logitech’s tiny Unifying Receiver.
When we went hands-on with the new controller, it was paired with the HTC Flyer. We’d been waiting to see OnLive’s service on HTC’s new tablet, and the experience didn’t disappoint — in our brief time with the device, gaming was as good on the Flyer as it is on a PC, with little lag and the same quality graphics. In addition to the Flyer and Vizio’s VIA hardware, many more devices are set to join the OnLive family this year, though Steve wouldn’t tell us who’s manufacturing them. He did say that no matter what brand-name is on the front of the box, the company hopes to have 50 million Blu-ray players and 25 million internet TVs shipped with the service on board by the end of the year. To hit that goal, the company has partnered with Intel to bring streaming gameplay to devices with Atom CE4100 silicon starting this fall.
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Technically, we suppose Logitech already made a play for the tablet accessories market when it launched a rebranded Zaggmate keyboard case earlier this year, but today the peripheral manufacturer’s getting serious about slates with the launch of two new portable products. Lacking a Smart Cover to keep your iPad 2 on edge? You could try the $70 Logitech Tablet Keyboard pictured above, which comes with a hardshell sleeve that doubles as a tablet stand and dedicated iOS or Android shortcuts. The keyboard itself is slick, roomy and somewhat plasticky, with a definite Notion Ink Adam vibe. There’s also a redesigned Zaggmate, now known as the $100 Logitech Keyboard Case, which comes with “a more intuitive keyboard layout and improved keystrokes for even more comfortable typing” — a claim we weren’t able to test — as well as a rebranded $100 Logitech Z515 Bluetooth speaker system, and a $50 Bluetooth mouse. Pricey? Definitely. Worthwhile? Decide for yourself later this month, when they’re scheduled to hit shelves.
We were just pondering this very thing yesterday — would Intel dedicate itself to Thunderbolt and give USB 3.0 the cold shoulder — and now we have our answer from the Santa Clara crew, albeit delivered from Beijing. The Chinese capital is the site of Intel’s currently ongoing developer conference, which is where Kirk Skaugen, VP of the company’s Architecture Group, assured the world that the promise for native USB 3.0 support in Intel chipsets will be fulfilled. Not this year, mind you, but it’ll be with us in 2012 as part of the Ivy Bridge CPU refresh. That matches AMD’s plans to support USB 3.0 in Fusion APUs, and was augmented with a strong word of endorsement from Skaugen about the connector’s future. He urged developers to embrace USB 3.0 on an equal footing with Intel’s proprietary Thunderbolt interconnect, describing the two technologies as “complementary.” If you say so, captain.
It’s a familiar face, sure, but there’s a key ingredient thrown here that’s been lacking on JBL’s prior iDevice docks: AirPlay. We’re still waiting (and waiting) to see if Apple’s going to expand its licensing program to allow third-party vendors the ability to toss in AirPlay video streaming, but for now, JBL’s taking advantage of what’s out there. The On Air Wireless AirPlay speaker dock — which is shipping today to Best Buy and Apple Stores after being teased a few weeks ago — is now good and official, enabling consumers to wirelessly stream their iTunes library from Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPods or iPads right to the dock. Aside from a rather unorthodox design (which should go a long way to dispersing jams in a 360-degree fashion), you’ll also find a color LCD, digital FM radio, an inbuilt alarm clock, DSP technology and a proprietary adapter that enables it to be worn as headgear at your next rave. We’re guessing that final bit makes the $349.99 price tag entirely more palatable.