hardware

blackwidow

Razer's Most Popular Gaming Keyboard Gets A Wrist Rest And Fancy New Switches

If you’re into keyboard switches, you’ll appreciate news that the latest version of Razer’s BlackWidow gaming keyboard adds a third option—the silent, low-travel Razer Yellow switch. Me, I’m just excited about the magnetic wrist rest. Advertisement Riding on the success of the dual mechanical/membrane Razer Ornata, the new BlackWidow V2 is sporting a padded wrist rest that attaches magnetically to the front of the unit, which has quickly become one of my favorite things. Sporting angled edges, the comfy home for your wrists and part of your palms really ties the keyboard together. This keyboard is naked and should be ashamed of itself. This keyboard is properly rested. I do not have a picture of the Yellow switches, but the official announcement promises that they’ll be an option for the V2. They even explain why one might want them. Advertisement The Razer BlackWidow V2 continues the legacy of offering the best tactile switches with the Green and Orange variants, and adds an alternative – the Razer Yellow switch. Its linear and silent design and reduced travel distance READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

business

This Week In The Business: A Tough Year For Hardware

QUOTE | “I’m tired of shooting people for no reason other than not getting killed.” – Martin Greip, art director of Eat, Create, Sleep, talking about games that lack meaning and how big budget games are “estranged from the real world.” Advertisement QUOTE | “I’d puke if I had to work on an empire-building game or another infinite runner.” – Oskar Burman, veteran of AAA, PC F2P and mobile, is moving to VR and talks about the lack of innovation in the industry over the last few years. QUOTE | “The Switch is a compelling piece of hardware that could potentially reach a much larger addressable market.” – DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole commenting on the opportunity in front of Nintendo with the Switch, which he predicts will sell 40 million units by 2020. Advertisement QUOTE | “2016 was a tough year for hardware spending.” – NPD analyst Sam Naji on the US games business seeing a 24% sales dip for hardware in 2016 as consumer spending on consoles softened. QUOTE | “Nintendo’s biggest missed opportunity around Super Mario Run is not taking advantage READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

flight stick

Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Flight Pack Review: PC Aviation Essentials

Nothing makes a flight or space sim really sing like a hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) setup. Thrustmaster’s $200 T.1600M FCS Flight Pack combines joystick, throttle and rudder pedals in one lovely entry-level package. Advertisement Between the rise of virtual reality and an expanding audience of people with incredibly good taste in game genres, space sims and flight sims are experiencing a renaissance. Games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen are getting people flying, and from there it’s a short hop to more realistic stuff like Digital Combat Simulator World. But first the new players need to trade their game pads for something a bit more appropriate. They need joysticks with triggers and hat switches. They need a throttle. They don’t necessarily need rudder pedals, but if you’re going in you might as well go all-in. That’s what the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Flight Pack is all about. What It Is The T.16000M FCS Flight pack is a complete HOTAS setup for PC, comprised of three parts. At the heart of the package is a slight retooling of Thrustmaster’s popular T.16000M flight stick, one of the more READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

google daydream

I Love The Google Daydream VR Controller

The Google Daydream View is a brilliant piece of VR hardware. Its head-mounted display (HMD) is wrapped in a comfy fabric texture, with squishy foam on the inside. The head strap is easy to adjust. It’s ergonomically ideal and a little, invisible chip connects it to the Google Pixel phone with no effort. Advertisement Tech outlets have sung the Daydream HMD’s praises since the hardware’s November release. But its best asset—its controller—has flown under the radar. I picked up one of these babies last night and spent some time testing out the remote. It is a very well-designed thing that I love and deserves a closer look. The Daydream’s controller is a wireless, ovular remote with four buttons: a circle and minus button on the flat top, a large trackpad button above it and, on the remote’s side, a volume button. The trackpad is all-directions responsive, so you can swipe from left to right to scroll through options, or swipe diagonally to, say, throw a stick to a dog. Advertisement The Samsung Gear VR, maybe the most comparable VR hardware READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

computer direct outlet

This Wooden Box Is A Gaming PC

The Volta V is the first commercially-produced, handcrafted wooden computer, and if you’ve got the green, it can pack some serious gaming power. Advertisement Back when I was a kid, most of the electronics in our home featured a large amount of wood. Our television was 22 inches of screen in a 50 inch wooden box, and we loved it. So when I got the second email about the launch of the Volta V after missing the first one, I was overjoyed. The Volta V is a watercooled PC in an American hardwood box. It’s meant to be a sustainable, upgradable system that will stay with you as PC hardware improves, instead of a metal or plastic enclosure that’s the next pretty LED-lighted thing away from extinction. Each Volta V case is cut from American hardwood, precision tooled and assembled by hand. It’s wood all around, save for the aluminium base that forms the feet, keeping the unit elevated for a keyboard to slip underneath. I worried about heat upon first seeing the Volta V’s design, but the world’s most knowledgeable PR READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

The New Red Xbox One Controller Looks Like Candy And I Want To Eat It

Today Microsoft introduces two new official colors to the Xbox One Wireless Controller line. There’s green and orange, which looks like an escapee from a Halo bundle, and sweet, delicious red, with its colorful candy buttons and delicious gummi analog sticks. It makes my teeth ache. Advertisement Available exclusively from the Microsoft Store and GameStop, the $64.99 Red controller features a simple two-tone red design that evokes red licorice, dark cherry Starbursts and other things slightly more edible than machined plastic. The buttons look like hard candy, and the analog nubs look like they need chewing much more than the standard ones. It’s probably just me, but sometimes designs and colors schemes come together in such a way that I just want to sink my teeth into them. The new red controller probably doesn’t actually smell or taste like those dried chocolate cherries they sell in the slightly-fancier part of the candy aisle, but damn if I don’t want it to. Advertisement Meanwhile, exclusive to the Microsoft Store and Walmart, the new Green and Orange is just another gamepad. You can eat that one if you’d like. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

CES 2017

Triple-Screen Laptops Stolen From Razer's CES Booth

Last week Razer debuted Project Valerie, a cutting-edge laptop concept that switches automatically between one and three displays. On Sunday, two prototype models were stolen from the Razer booth at CES 2017. The company is offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Advertisement The news of the theft was posted to Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan’s Facebook page earlier today. Tan noted that two unspecified prototypes had been taken from the Razer booth, condemning the act of potential “industrial espionage” as “cheating”. At Razer, we play hard and we play fair. Our teams worked months on end to conceptualize and develop these units and we pride ourselves in pushing the envelope to deliver the latest and greatest. We treat theft/larceny, and if relevant to this case, industrial espionage, very seriously – it is cheating, and cheating doesn’t sit well with us. Penalties for such crimes are grievous and anyone who would do this clearly isn’t very smart. We reached out to Razer for clarification surrounding the incident, and were told that the prototypes in question were indeed Project Valerie laptops. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Astro A50 (2016) Review: A Good Gaming Headset Gets Better, Mostly 

Astro recently released a new version of their flagship A50 wireless gaming headset. This model works with both PC and consoles, and even comes with a magnetic charging dock. It’s a solid headset overall, and offers some significant improvements on its already good predecessor. It’s also got a few niggling flaws. Advertisement Astro is a pretty well-known gaming brand—their headsets are popular with pro gamers and streamers, and turn up at conventions and fan events around the world. I generally like their stuff, and their wired A40 and first generation wireless A50 headsets have been mainstays in my gaming setups for years. Astro recently sent me a PS4 edition of the newest A50 to review, and I’ve been putting it through its paces for the last several weeks. Let’s get into it. THE BASICS The new A50 will run you $300, same as previous versions. It comes in two editions, a blue-highlighted PlayStation 4 model and a green-highlighted Xbox One model. That distinction is drawn based on which console’s wireless chat protocol the headset will work with—the PS4 headset won’t let you chat on an Xbox One, and vice versa. The two models are otherwise the same. Both versions also…

CES 2017

Razer's Latest CES Showstopper Is A Laptop With Three Screens

It’s too bad Razer already used the name Switchblade for its CES 2011 micro laptop concept, as it’s would have been perfect for Project Valerie, a gaming laptop that expands from one to three displays with the press of a button. Advertisement Multi-monitor desktop gaming is easy, but setting up a pair of additional screens to complement a laptop display is not. Razer’s Project Valerie concept, being shown today at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, solves that issue in a very cool way. Project Valerie is a thicker version of the 2016 Razer Blade Pro, the best machine Razer’s brought to market so far. The extra depth is caused by a pair of additional 17.3-inch 4K IGZO displays layered behind the main one. When the user decides to go from one to three screens, the additional displays automatically deploy, aligning themselves with the primary. Note the glow under each extended monitor in the image above. Not content to have a laptop that transforms into a triple display monster, Razer’s got ambient Chroma lighting going on behind both as well, because they pretty much have to. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

controllers

Big Smash Bros. Melee Tournament Will Allow Controversial Controller

SmashBox controller Super Smash Bros. Melee players still compete at tournaments with the 15-year-old GameCube controller. But it’s got issues—namely, painful ergonomics and easily-degraded joysticks. Advertisement So when Dustin Huffer introduced a modern controller into the Melee mix, he was shocked to hear that the huge, January, 2017 Smash tournament Genesis 4 was considering a ban. After a few painful weeks for Huffer and SmashBox controller acolytes, a Genesis 4 organizer told Kotaku today that they’ll now allow the controller, potentially changing the hardware landscape of a 15-year-old fighting game. The SmashBox controller can’t do anything a traditional GameCube controller can’t. It just doesn’t have joysticks—only buttons, like a traditional fighting game controller. Earlier this month, top-six Melee player Juan Debiedma, aka Hungrybox, told me that “It’s a way to perform very difficult inputs with more precision, with the downside of having to learn how to play the game all over again.” But the organizers of Genesis 4 were afraid that, by making the SmashBox tournament-legal, they would open the floodgates for all sorts of unconventional and potentially game-breaking controllers. In a worst-case scenario, players will find a way to use macros, so they could do two moves with one button….

hardware

Razer Blade Pro 2016 Review: The Top Of The Thin Line

Since the 2011 debut of its first super-skinny gaming laptop, Razer has supplemented the Blade line with models either smaller or less expensive than original. Starting at $3,699, the new Blade Pro bucks that trend, resulting in Razer’s the most impressive desktop replacement yet. Advertisement PC gamers laughed when the original 17 inch Razer Blade debuted at $2,800 with system specs easily surpassed by larger, cheaper gaming notebooks, but the Blade wasn’t about power. It was about finding a balance between performance and portability, sacrificing more robust components in order to achieve a game capable system that was under an inch thick. That balance struck a chord with consumers, and the Blade line began to grow. In 2013 the 17 inch model became the Blade Pro, the base name going to a new 14-inch system that was thinner than Apple’s Macbook Air. Earlier this year Razer debuted the Blade Stealth, an even smaller, skinnier system aimed at the Ultrabook crowd. Advertisement Where the original Razer Blade was an exercise in compromise, the 2016 Razer Blade Pro is about seeing how much power can be stuffed inside of a 17 inch wide, 11 inch deep, .88 inch tall aluminium housing without…

art lebedev

A Hacker Turned a Keyboard Into a Game of Doom

GIF Forget processor speed, storage, memory, screen resolution, and even apps. The real test of a gadget’s worth is whether or not it can run Doom, which means that the Optimus Maximus keyboard, with it’s re-programmable LCD keys, is finally worth dropping $1,500+ on. Advertisement Look down at one of the keys on your computer’s keyboard and imagine it were a tiny screen. Now imagine trying to play Doom on a display that size with a resolution of just 48×48 pixels. It would be almost impossible to see monsters coming before they were on top of you. Trying to aim and shoot them would be an even bigger challenge. [embedded content] The other challenge is that Art Lebedev’s studio no longer makes the Optimus Maximus keyboard. Its newer Optimus Popularis keyboard, which offers similar programmable key functionality, should also be compatible with this hack. But again, you’ll be spending $1,500 for the most awkward game of Doom you’ve ever played. [YouTube via Motherboard] READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

hardware

There's No Reason For A Super Nintendo Computer Keyboard, But It Sure Is Pretty

I can’t imagine many rational reasons anyone would need a keyboard designed to coincide with the colors of the Super Nintendo, but I have to admit there’s something soothing about the rows of gray, lilac, purple and black keys of Hyperkin’s “retro-style” Hyper Clack keyboard. Advertisement Recently unleashed upon the retail world, the SNES-styled Hyper Clack here is a $99 USB mechanical keyboard designed to appeal to the retro gaming enthusiast. With its Gaote Blue tactile switches and Cherry MX compatible keycaps, it seems like it’s a nice enough typing instrument. It even sports a pleasing purple glow along the base. It’s just so . . . odd. Do I get one and set my SNES up next to it? Should I be retro-styling all of my PC peripherals? So many questions. Advertisement “The Hyper Clack is a high-quality mechanical keyboard and a great way for desktop warriors to showcase their love for 16-bit gaming!” said Hyperkin product developer, Chris Gallizzi via press release. “The keyboard was created as a tribute to classic gaming, but also because of the mechanical keyboard enthusiasts we have here at the office. Myself included.” The Hyper Clack SNES edition comes in a themed box,…

hardware

Sennheiser PC 373D Headset Review: Great Audio, Steep Price

Most gaming headphones are made by companies better known for video game gear than for audio equipment. Enter Sennheiser, recording industry stalwarts trusted by people who actually use headphones to listen to music. Advertisement A few weeks ago someone from Sennheiser emailed asking if I’d like to check out their new PC 373D surround-sound gaming headphones. I’ve since put the headset through its paces over the course of a few weeks of regular video game playing. (Which, for me this time of year, means an exhaustive marathon of all kinds of games.) Here’s what I’ve found. THE BASICS The PC 373D headset costs $250 new, though you can usually find one for a little less. It’s a USB-only headset that is accompanied by a standalone PC app that handles 7.1 Dolby headphone surround, EQ settings, mic noise canceling and sidetone volume. You can use it as a USB mic on any hardware that’ll support that, but you can only get surround sound on PC with the app. Official product shot The headset itself includes semi-open-back earcups and has a large boom mic that you can mute by flicking it up and un-mute by bringing it down to talk. A button…