Last time, we discussed a little bit about what the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) really is - 150,000 people walking tens of football fields of floorspace dominated by mobile device covers, audio, and televisions. But this is a PC gaming - and especially EVE Online - news site, right? So let's take a look at PC gaming at CES. Once again, apologies for cellphone photo quality.
No matter where I go, I can't escape the EVE memes.
As you walk the eastern half of the south hall, one huge booth stands out - the UnitedHealthcare booth. UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health insurers in the US, and appeared to be here talking less about insurance than about their mobile apps and tie-ins to health devices like exercise monitors. So what does this have to do with PC gaming? Check out the screen.
Yes, I danced. No, you can't see a video.
That's right, flashbacks to 15 years ago or so - DanceDanceRevolution. UnitedHealthcare has apparently partnered with Konami to bring a version ("Classroom Edition") designed specifically for use in gym classes to a handful of schools to test how effective it might be to getting kids who hate gym class moving. Wish my gym class had had video games. This version of the DDR runs off a cart using up to 48 simultaneous-play wireless heavy-duty mats that communicate with a PC that sits on the cart and tracks activity on the pads. No console here, kids.
That whole anecdote may seem pointless, but I bring it up because of this: the "Gaming Showcase" at CES was pretty sad. As you can see below, the UnitedHealthcare booth alone was about a third of the size of the entire Gaming Showcase area.
Small showcase is small
To make matters worse, there wasn't much to interest the PC gamer in said showcase. There were two big themes in gaming at CES this year: 1) Tablet gaming and 2) PC-to-HDTV for use in your living room. Most of this showcase was - you guessed it - tablets. And some tablet covers. So, bored of these things (you read the last article, right?) I tracked down the most unusual booth in the section - Intellect Motion. They were showing off a set of motion game controllers that were truly ahead of their time.
Today's Where's Waldo - find the EVE reference. No, I did not try this contraption.
Yes, that's right, a special gun and harness you actually strapped yourself into to move around to run and dodge during FPS games (other things like a balance board could also be added). Somehow I doubt I'll have this one in the living room any time soon, but to each their own. Along with the Hapifork, this is one of those things that sounds good on paper but might not get a lot of traction among real consumers any time soon.
Thankfully, there were other interesting things of EVE and PC gaming note outside of the "gaming showcase".
If you have $10,000 and a tall storage space, have I got the telescope for you.
For PC gaming specifically, three booths stood out: Razer, NVIDIA & Intel.
I stopped at Razer first. Their big showcase item was the Razer Edge gaming tablet, which won several show awards for versatility and add-on peripherals. It was billed as tablet, PC and console all in one, with the ability to tie in controller accessories as well as standing it up on edge in a dock and using mouse and keyboard. Further, it could display 720p to a television screen for use in the living room. Maybe as an ultraportable EVE device in the future - it's still in prototype.
The Razer Edge shown in "Laptop" Mode
NVIDIA was showing some cool stuff as well - some expected, some not. Their big gaming news was the Gaming Cloud service, along with their Android gaming tablet, Project Shield. But I'll be honest, what I thought was the coolest there wasn't their gaming products, it was their Tegra-chip based customizable Digital Instrument Clusters on display in and in place in the Tesla Model S.
One of the Tegra-powered NVIDIA custom-built instrument clusters on display
Meanwhile in the Intel booth, tucked away in a corner was a kiosk whose point wasn't immediately apparent. As I dug deeper, however, I figured out what they were doing - it was a motion controller a la Kinect, but in a much smaller form factor, perched atop a laptop. But what had caught my interest is that they were playing Portal 2 with it.
Feel the force, robots. For science!
This device is still in development, and is a collaboration between Intel and Creative. It still had its quirks but it was interesting to see a more close-range, hand-focused version and how it might actually realistically work in a PC gaming setting.
Cool form factor, but I need more room for the EVE UI!
In the monitor space, the most interesting item of the show was the LG 21:9 Ultrawide monitor. I personally wouldn't buy one because, simply put, it's too small. However for specialized uses such as car games, it really gave a cool sense of immersion and wraparound without needing three monitors to accomplish it.
I'm sure there are some out there asking "What about Steam?" Well, here's another dirty little secret of most trade shows - not just CES. There are things called "closed booths". This means that they might have huge booths, but they are entirely enclosed and not open to the public. Remember what I said last time about needing the right badge? This was one of those times.
The only thing I could get a picture of at the Steam booth.
Of course what they were displaying inside was the fabled Steam Box, a living room based PC that is designed to act like a console.
So in a nutshell, that's what CES has to offer the PC gamer.
Oh, one more thing. They also have some sweet cars at CES to display automotive tech. Audi the last two years at least has had a blindingly bright booth, with white floors and lit on all walls and ceiling with halogen-bright lights, and they bring in their best to show off.
The Audi's R18 Quattro Racer
If you get a chance to go, certainly take it. But now, maybe you'll have a better idea of what to expect when you get there.