Alienware_big.jpgThis week, Melanie and I took advantage of our time at E3 to stop by the booths of companies offering cutting-edge devices for gamers. These include Alienware, Thrustmaster and Emtec to discover their new GEM Box, a tiny Android box that lets you stream and download a wide range of video games.

Alienware celebrates 20 years creating the best PC hardware for gamers  

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Alienware, and on this milestone year the company is releasing their most high-tech gaming PCs yet–ones that compatible with both Oculus Rift and HTV Vive (the only PC manufacturer approved by both VR companies). We had a chance to see the new Alienware desktops, including Aurora, Alpha, and Area-51, plus the Alienware 13 with its absolutely stunning OLED screen. The screen has an incredible depth of color with a contrast ratio of 100,000:1, and a response time of 1-2ms (the company’s fastest laptop.) What really impressed me the most about the OLED is the gorgeous range of colours, and blacks that actually appeared as black, instead of the usual grey-black on traditional monitors.

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Thrustmaster offers high-quality gaming accessories for racing and flight combat games  

Thrustmaster.JPGNext up, Melanie and I checked out the Thrustmaster booth for some hands-on time with their latest racing wheels using the Oculus Rift. The game I played was DiRT Rally, and for maximum immersion, I was seated in a racing cockpit with my hands on a Thrustmaster wheel, feet on three Thrustmaster pedals, and a Thrustmaster hand brake on my right.

I was amazed at how all three accessories came together to give me the ultimate racing experience–combined with the Oculus Rift, I literally felt like I was driving offroad at high speeds. I especially loved the firm grip of the racing wheel (no slipping at all during my race), and the convenient and responsive gear shift easily accessible behind the wheel. The wheel also had force feedback technology built-in, letting me feel the rumble of the engine, and the bumps of every turn.

A Thrustmaster rep told me that you can customize your gaming experience by mixing and matching accessories from the full range of wheels, pedals, hand brakes, and more that the company offers. If you’re serious about your racing (or flying), you should definitely check out what Thrustmaster has to offer.

GEM Box, this little media box to play streaming  

The last company we visited was Emtec, makers of the Android-powered GEM Box. This miniscule gaming device is so tiny, it fits in the palm of your hand! The first thing I learned about the GEM Box is that it’s name is an acronym for Entertainment Gaming Multimedia, three words that describe the box’s functionality. First we were shown the device’s gaming capabilities, which is quite extensive and includes GameFly paid-streaming service, game emulation (for older consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and more), downloadable Android games, and the ability to stream for your Steam games to your TV, from your PC. With all these gaming options available, using the GEM Box you can literally play video games all the way early 80’s consoles straight through the latest games available on Steam. Bundled with the GEM Box is a game controller, which resembles an Xbox One controller only slightly smaller, and four Android games come pre-installed so you can game right out of the box.

In addition to gaming, the GEM Box also lets you perform various functions commonly seen in Android boxes, such as surfing the web, viewing photos, and streaming videos. One great option for those who to enhance their GEM Box experience is picking up the optional remote control-shaped keyboard for quick web typing and faster scrolling through your photos and videos. We were told that the GEM Box is not currently sold in Canada, but to expect it here before the end of the year. Be on the look out for more potential coverage of the GEM Box in the months ahead!

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