We had the chance to stop by Razer’s booth and saw some really exciting new stuff. Razer is a company that is well-known for making fantastic gaming peripherals, and most recently have ventured outside that market into building actual gaming laptops, wearable’s and various other devices geared toward gaming and gamers.
FORGE TV AND CORTEX: STREAM
The first of their new products we took a look at is Forge TV; an Android TV gaming and streaming box or ‘micro-console’. The box features a sleek design, it is very small measuring at only 4.1″ in diameter and 0.7″ in height, making very similar to that of an Apple TV in form-factor alone. It is also completely fan-less, in order to provide users with a silent experience while using it in their living room.
It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC, which features a quad-core Krait 450 CPU clocked at 2.5GHz, and an Adreno 420 GPU. It also has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.1 + HS, Wireless AC 2×2, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4 output.
They’ve also built their own game streaming solution, Razer Cortex: Stream, which is an app that connects to their Razer Cortex desktop software and enables you to stream your PC games to the console, similarly to nVidia’s GameStream or Steam’s In-Home Streaming, except Razer says that unlike those solutions Cortex: Stream is compatible with virtually any hardware and any game DX9 and above. They’ve also even talked about the possibility of opening up the platform to other hardware vendors.
Razer claims their streaming solution can provide ultra-low latency gaming and up to full-HD 1080p resolution with a standard Wi-Fi or ethernet connection. Of course, like the other solutions streaming performance will depend heavily on your network.
The console will retail for $99 by itself or $149 bundled with their Serval game controller, and will be available Q1 2015. Cortex: Stream will be available for beta-release in Q2 of 2015.
SERVAL GAME CONTROLLER AND TURRET KEYBOARD/MOUSE
To go along with the console, Razer has introduced two new peripherals. The Serval game controller and the Turret keyboard and mouse.
The Serval is a full-fledged console controller designed for Android gaming, it features 4 hyper-response action buttons, two analog sticks with rubber grips included, Android navigation buttons (Home and Back), Media buttons (play, pause, back and forward). As well as a player LED indicator, adjustable game clip, and an optional rechargeable battery pack. It can also connect either wireless-ly via Bluetooth 3.0 or wired via an included micro-USB cable.
Razer says it was built with the same quality, precision and ergonomics as their console game controllers, and after using it for a bit we’re inclined to agree.
The Turret keyboard and mouse is built to put a desktop grade gaming experience in your lap. Allowing you to play your favorite PC titles on your couch without compromise. The keyboard features a ‘lapboard’ design which as the name suggests is made to sit on your lap, it has a fold out mouse-pad which features a magnetic surface to keep the mouse from falling off or slipping while moving around.
It also features anti-ghosting capability for pressing up to 10 keys at once, Chiclet-style keycaps, dedicated Android buttons, a Cortex quick launch button and battery life for up to four months, depending on usage.
The mouse is a much simpler affair, it looks and feels very similar to a standard mobile mouse and features an ambidextrous design, a 3500 DPI sensor, as well as up to 40 hours of battery life. The keyboard and mouse combo also include a charging dock for storing, while not in use.
After using the keyboard a mouse briefly, we found it to actually be quite comfortable, however we did note a slight resistance from the magnetic mousepad and Razer ensures us that this is a pre-production model that they’re still working on and that their goal is to provide enough resistance to keep the mouse from sliding on its own without hindering gaming performance.
The Serval game controller will be priced at $79.99, available Q1 2015, and the Turret keyboard/mouse will be priced at $129.99, available Q2 2015.
OPEN SOURCE VIRTUAL REALITY
Last but not least, we got to check out Razer’s new OSVR or Open Source Virtual Reality developer-kit. OSVR is an ecosystem built by Razer in partnership with Sensics, whom is a leader in high-performance VR. It is not an actual marketed product, but instead is a developer-kit and open source software which includes support for popular game engines such as Unity 3D and Unreal Engine 4.
In addition to working with device plugins from companies like Razer, Sixense and LeadMotion, OSVR is also designed to work with all VR devices including the Oculus DK2 and Vrvana’s Totem headset.
Essentially, what Razer is trying to do with OSVR is create a complete ecosystem for VR which developers can easily tap into and ensure that their games are compatible with a wide range of VR hardware. Razer and their partner are seeking to mature the VR market rather than flood it with another device. “OSVR’s open-platform approach accelerates innovation and provides consumers the freedom of choosing the best combination of hardware and software components”, says Yuval Boger, CEO of Sensics. “We are excited to partner with Razer and other industry leaders to build OSVR together”. This is definitely a much different approach than other VR companies have taken so far, and we’re really excited to see how it turns out.
We got to try on the developer kit and play one of their tech demos, which featured a LeapMotion controller as input device. The devkit features a single 1080p screen and adjustable lenses for getting the right focus. In our quick demo, we found it to work quite well however we did experience a fair amount of motion blur and the screen itself is definitely not high enough resolution as we experienced a “screen door” effect. That being said, this is only the first devkit for OSVR and it is produced with low-costs in mind.
You can find out more at OSVR’s website.