Thinking of building a new gaming PC? Struggling with whatever random error your desktop is throwing up this week? Under The Hood gives you a quick and concise run-down of the most important things that happened to the PC master race in the last seven days.
After pulling off the final version of the Oculus Rift during a recent session, I realised I had been playing for more than an hour. It was dark out, and all my coworkers had gone home. I’d been lost in the moment, trying to collect all 25 hidden red coins in a level of Lucky’s Tale, one of the 30 games launching alongside the Oculus today.
I’m no longer a hardcore gamer, but I’ve had my fair share of caffeine-fuelled gaming all-nighters, so I’m familiar with the dazed feeling of coming to after losing myself to an illusion. I looked at my watch. It was just after seven. Do I have anywhere to be? Nope. I rubbed my eyes, pulled the headset down over my face, and went back for more.
This has been the promise of Oculus all along: a truly immersive virtual reality experience. From the beginning, when Oculus was first introduced as a Kickstarter, the nerds were already on board — legions of gamers and early adopters were ready to buy into virtual reality before they even saw it themselves. For the rest of us, VR has remained an elusive and tedious source of hype. It’s all talk about the future and the possibilities that lie ahead, but for the most part, it’s been a future we can’t see. And when virtual reality doesn’t fill a need, the way a smartphone does by putting the internet in your pocket, the technology is hard to get excited about.
Even if you’ve had a glimpse of VR’s “promise” — with Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR or an early Oculus development kit — and were wowed in the moment, it was probably more excitement about what it could become, rather than what it was.
A minimalist version of the popular BlackWidow keyboard, Razer’s new BlackWidow X Chroma is smaller, sleeker and more straightforward. It’s also cheaper, says Razer, but it’ll still set you back $330 in Australia. Man, mechanical keyboards are expensive.
That’s the price you pay for Razer’s excellent bespoke mechanical key switches, per-key customisable Chroma lighting and the sturdy metal top plate that’s inside all Razer keyboards. Because Razer allows its users to publish different Chroma lighting schemes through the companion Chroma app, there’s customised lighting for specific games like Overwatch and Call of Duty.
The BlackWidow X is different to the original BlackWidow in that its metal top plate is exposed — there’s no glossy protective cover like on the original, which means that light bleeds out from the back of the keys a little more. The sharp, angular Razer styling is still in abundance, and the BlackWidow X still looks like it’ll survive a sustained thermonuclear exchange.
These are the kinds of programs that change the way people look at technology. In this case, it’s a program that, for some people, might actually make virtual reality a enjoyable, even practical, replacement for their monitor. It’s called Virtual Desktop, and it’s available now.
The idea is simple. It’s an application for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift — sorry to the few people with access to StarVR — that lets you use your computer desktop as if you were in a virtual environment.
It’s got multi-monitor support. Support for 360 degree photos and videos. Music visualisation tools. An environment editor so you can spice up the background of your virtual “screen”. You can watch streaming services like Netflix in VR without waiting for them to create a separate app.
Logitech describes the G900 Chaos Spectrum as its “best gaming mouse yet” designed for maximum performance and comfort for long gaming sessions. It has all of the expected features of a high end gaming mouse — an advanced optical gaming sensor, ambidextrous design, customisable lighting, mechanical pivot button design and it is lightweight. But the real standout is its wireless technology, which promises to be professional grade, lag-free and faster than a wired mouse.
“We talked with eSports pros and none of them love the cable on a wired mouse,” said Ujesh Desai vice president and general manager of gaming at Logitech. “They wish they had the freedom of wireless but the performance and reliability of a wired mouse. So that was the design goal we gave our engineers, to build a wireless gaming mouse that was faster than the competition’s wired gaming mice. G900 delivers on this promise, and we’re confident it’s the best gaming mouse we’ve ever built.”
There was a lot of potential when someone at Disney decided to turn Rey’s Speeder into a USB flash drive. That is, until the company decided to cheap out and put a paltry 4GB of storage in it. It won’t even be able to hold the HD digital copy of The Force Awakens you’re so desperate to download.
The good news is that it’s on sale right now at the Disney Store website for just seven bucks. But the extra bad news is at that price it’s probably slower than Jabba the Hutt trying to walk on a frozen footpath.