Power Play

Published Date
01 - Nov - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Nov - 2006
Power Play
Gaming is serious business-and no, we don't mean only for game developers and hardware vendors: we mean for the gamers as well. As with any sport (yes, gaming is now a sport!), talent doesn't always get you everywhere.

Serious gaming has some very basic requirements: talent, a good rig, precision instruments of control, and a certain je ne sais quoi-shall we leave it at oomph, or "coolth"? Let's face facts: most of the top gamers around the world aren't really Mr Universe material. What makes them icons are their skills at their games and the aura of technological wizardry that surrounds them. They all have the latest rigs, with bleeding edge technology at their fingertips, and quite vexingly, some of them don't pay a dime for it-it's all sponsored!

We aren't going to talk about the people who rule the roost-we'll save that for another time. What we are going to talk about is how you can get that something extra... that something else... that no one else has.

If you're a serious gamer, you probably have gamer friends. We're guessing here, but we're supposing all of you have pretty much similar gaming rigs. If you're not into PC gaming, you probably own an Xbox 360 already, and are eagerly awaiting the PS3-but then again, so are your friends...and a million others around the globe.

Wheat Or Chaff
It's your decision; choose wisely! Though it sounds like a line from a B grade action flick, you can do this the easy way or the hard way, and trust us, use the force, resist the dark side (umm... we meant the easy way).

Apart from owning consoles and SLI-ed or CrossFire-d graphics rigs, there are a few other things you might be interested in. Take, for example, your mouse... it's boring, to say the least. Everyone has a mouse that, well, looks like a mouse. If you're an FPS fanatic, you need something that says "I shoot people and demons in a virtual world...and I'm good at it!"

Let's start with a simple concept: You like shoot-em-ups; you're always using some gun in a game, but you're controlling it with a mouse that has a click button instead of a trigger. So why not use a gun-shaped control object instead? That's what the people at MonsterGecko (www.monstergecko. com) have created for you: the PistolMouse FPS. This is a 900 dpi mouse that's shaped like a pistol. It's ergonomically designed to keep your hand in a comfortable position, and has all three mouse buttons conveniently placed. But even if it didn't, we'd still want one, right? Here's the clincher though: this cool gadget costs a mere $20 (Rs 950), so get online and e-mail that uncle/aunt/cousin/ distant relative/complete stranger who's coming down from the US, and order one. Seriously, go right now-this magazine isn't going anywhere!

Back? OK! Another cool product is the Wolf Claw Type II keyboard. With a nice ergonomic controller on the left, to help you move better when playing FPS titles, this keyboard is a good buy at just $50 (Rs 2,400).

Razer is another name that's well known in gaming circles, and their Copperhead mouse is a 2000 dpi precision instrument of destruction (if that's the type of games you play). At $80 (Rs 3,800), it may seem expensive, but once you've used it, you'll realise why it's priced that way.

These products, however, are the usual suspects, and many a gamer will be sporting them. What will set you apart? There are a myriad products out there that cater to gaming. Some are affordable, some ridiculously not so. We've sifted through all the madness out there to come up with cool products that we think every gamer should want, if not already owned! Get out that tissue paper and be prepared to wipe away some drool/tears, after you turn the page...

Alienware Area-51 ALX

Forget words, just look at the specs:
·    Intel Core 2 Extreme 2.93 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB
·     NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI
·     4 GB dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM @ 800MHz
·     2 x 1 GB NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2L, quad-SLI Enabled
·    Ageia PhysX Processing Unit with 128 MB GDDR3
·     2.5 TB hard disk space (Max: SATA II, 2 x 750 GB and 2 x 500 GB @ 7,200 pm-RAID 0)
·     Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports
·     Sound Blaster X-Fi High Definition Surround Sound audio card
·    Dual-zone liquid cooling for CPU and GPUs
·    1000 watt power supply with Active PFC
·    Dell 30" 2560 x 1600 UltraSharp Widescreen Flat Panel
·    Price? A mere $10,500, or about Rs 5 lakh! We warned you to bring tissues...

Web site: www.alienware.com

Fanatec heäd$h0t Controller

Unlike the Razer Copperhead we mentioned earlier, this is a strictly right-handed mouse-sorry southpaws!

It's based on laser technology with a resolution of 2000 dpi. In terms of optics, it's pretty much the same as the Razer. However, that's where the similarities end!

This mouse has one reason for its existence-the human desire to look good! It might be a little too flashy for some of you, but the show-offs among us will not give a hoot. It has an arch over the mousepad, which holds your mouse in place. When you open up the box and realise that the mousepad needs you to connect the bundled AC adapter to run, you know the experience will be special! The best feature, however, is the ability of the mouse to be "perfect" for every size hand. You get extenders to make the mouse fatter for those with large paws!  A hundred Dollars (Rs 4,500) is what this beauty will set you back by.

Web site: www.fanatec.com

Ergodex DX1
With all the keyboards out there that try so hard to figure out what's ergonomic for you-and fail- it's no surprise that someone finally had a brainwave and decided to let you decide what's comfortable for you. Presenting the Ergodex DX1, a keyboard that comes with 25 keys that can  be placed anywhere, at any angle you like, in any sequence you like. If you find that you want to move a particular key just a tad to the left...move it. The keys, numbered 1 to 25, have no wires, or any type of batteries.

You can record pre-defined macros per key, on the fly, and make your own macros. There are four basic types of macros to choose from: single key, multi-key, text blocks and a file launcher. All this management is made easier by the Ergodex Manager software that's bundled. If you want to, you can replace your keyboard with this masterpiece, but we'd recommend you use it for special tasks only! You will get the basic DX1 package for about $150, but you're better of buying an additional set of 25 keys to bring the key-count up to 50 total. That's $200 (Rs 9,000) for the total package, which is worth every paisa, for the looks of envy your friends will give you!

Web site: www.ergodex.com
Mad Catz MC2 Racing Wheel / Fanatec Speedster
We couldn't make a choice between the two, so we'll leave that task to you. We suppose it all depends on whether you own an Xbox 360 or a PS2.

The Mad Catz MC2 racing wheel for the Xbox 360 has a rubber-grip, retractable leg supports, force feedback, 10 analogue control buttons, and pedals that don't slip around on the floor. It's got great reviews from professional gamers, and is officially recommended for the Xbox 360. Overall, it's a must have for racing fans. It costs $70 (Rs 3,300).

The Fanatec Speedster, on the other hand, is for all you PS2 owners out there who love racing. There is an Xbox model of the Speedster 3 ForceShock also available, so the choice is pretty much yours. This wheel sits perfectly in your lap, or it can be mounted on a table. The pedals are anti-skid in design, and the gears are F1-styled buttons.

Overall, both are great wheels for all you Schumachers out there. 

Web sites: www.madcatz.com/    www.fanatec.com

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro
If you're thinking of buying good speakers (like the Klipsch Ultra mentioned later), you better get yourself a good sound card as well. Your onboard sound will just not live up to the capabilities of the speakers.

The first name in sound cards is Creative's Sound Blaster, and the X-Fi Elite Pro is the king of their castle for now. This one boasts of sampling rates of 96 KHz for 7.1 and 192 KHz for stereo audio. The card has 64 MB of X-RAM (sound memory). Think it like graphics card memory, but for sound, so that your system memory is left alone when processing audio!

Output power is 116 dB, and frequency response is <10 Hz to 46 KHz. Apart from the tech-specs, this beauty comes with three preset modes-Audio Creation, Gaming and Entertainment-just pop it into gaming mode and enjoy yourself!

The card is THX-certified, with DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX decoding, so every movie you watch will be exactly as the director meant it to be-aurally, at least! The best part is that Creative has a very strong presence in India, so getting you hands on this baby will be easy-it costs Rs 15,000 (approx)

Web site: https://in.creative.com

Trimersion Head
Mounted Display

OK, we'll admit it-this one is just a fun addition, but it will either have your friends in splits or really jealous-it's a 50-50 shot, and is totally your call.

You get a stereo display of 640 x 480, which kind of sucks, but then again, only you'll realise that, because you will be wearing them! The headset features tracking, so you can move your head to turn in the game. The gun will give you controls for both hands, for movement and weapons, while the triggers take care of mouse-work.

Overall, if you have $395 (Rs 19,000) to throw away, throw it in this direction. Who knows-you might even start to like this unique way of playing shoot-em-ups. Also, if you take this to a LAN party, you're guaranteed to win, because everyone else will be too busy laughing to frag anything! 

Web site: www.trimersion.com
Samsung HL-S6187W 61-inch
Now this is a monitor! Samsung is known for their display technology and the crazy things they do with mobile phone cameras, but that's another story!

This display weighs 40 kilos, and boasts of a 1920 x 1080p resolution. It has a contrast ratio of 10000:1, and hidden surround sound speakers.
It's a 61-inch HDTV-do we really need to say any more? Well, yeah, it costs about $2,400 (Rs 1,15,000).

Web site: www.samsung.com

The Ultimate Game Chair
Yes, this is a chair, but no ordinary one! This pure leather beauty has 12 feedback motors to enrich your gaming experience, so the chair will shudder when there's an explosion nearby. It's got rear speaker stands that are attached to the chair itself, and controllers attached to the arm rests. These controllers will let you connect to a PC, both Xboxes and both PlayStation models. Get this chair, a small fridge, some one to stock it for you, a bed-pan and a bundle of games, and see how long you can go without getting off this dream chair. Just keep blowing things up to make the force feedback kick in to give you some exercise!

Website: www.ultimategamechair.com

Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1
Klipsch is a well known professional home audio manufacturer based in the US; they've been in the business since 1946! The ProMedia series is their line-up of PC speakers, and the Ultra is a 5.1-channel solution.

These speakers look good! But how do they sound? Even if you're an audiophile, the following specifications should tell you a lot:

Freq Response: 25 Hz-20 kHz /- 5dB
Satellites: 60 W per channel @ = 1% THD, 100Hz-1KHz
Subwoofer: 170 W @ = 3% THD, 40-100Hz
Output: 115dB at listening position (near field) Crossover: High Freq-3000Hz; Low Freq-120Hz Impressive! The speakers weigh about 25 kg, and feature a 500 W BASH (www.bashaudio.com) amp. The sound quality will make your gaming and movie experience a delight, as it should be. Check at the site for dealers in India. The price? About Rs 30,000-a steal, really, for a high-quality 5.1 set!

Website: www.klipsch.com

If you can get your hands on some or all of these, you can consider yourself crazy enough to be a professional gamer!
Until then, join the group and dream on!

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.