E3 always showcases the best up-and-coming hardware and accessories in the games industry, but with all the games being shown off, it’s easy to forget about the new gadgets and gizmos that will soon reach the hands and heads of players. I spent a lot of time at E3 this year checking out all the hardware and accessories the show had to offer. Here are the most awesome things I saw:
LucidSound LS50 Wireless Headset
The world of gaming headsets has become a pretty crowded space in recent years, but if you’re like me, then until now you may not have heard about the fastest growing headset brand: LucidSound. As every gamer knows, gaming headsets are immediately recognizable by their massive size, usually colorful design, and the plethora of buttons on the device to give the player as much control as possible. LucidSound’s headsets, on the other hand, are a breath of fresh air, and most people might mistake them for a non-gaming headset if they didn’t know better. Rather than being big, ugly things, LucidSound’s headsets are mostly tame in color and look like something you might see someone wearing on the bus — and that’s exactly the idea. From the beginning, LucidSound has set out to build a brand that targets gamers not just while they’re sitting down with their favorite game, but while they’re out in the world as well. And with the LS50 headset, LucidSound hopes to make that dream a reality.
The LS50’s killer feature is that it can connect to your console and your mobile device at the same time, enabling you to mix audio from two sources simultaneously. You could, for example, play music from your phone, while chatting in an online party with your friends. In this scenario, in-game audio and party chat volume would be controlled through your gaming platform using the volume dials built into the headset, while the music coming from your phone would be controlled through the mobile device itself. And when you’re done playing and leave the house, you can simply take the headset with you, which is already connected to your phone via bluetooth. For the first time, there’s no need for gamers to own several different headsets for different scenarios — one for gaming, and one for use elsewhere in life. The LS50 aims to be the headset of choice for gamers in all scenarios.
As with all LucidSound’s headsets, the LS50 utilizes the company’s signature audio control system, which allows the user to simply rotate the earpiece to increase or decrease volume, or tap it to mute. It also features two microphones, a standard boom mic intended for use during gaming, and a secondary internal microphone that’s preferable for day-to-day use. These two key features allow one to seamlessly transition from using the LS50 as a gaming headset to something you might wear on a plane without looking like a crazy person.
Oh, and LucidSound is making a version of the LS50 in collaboration with the one and only Snoop Dogg. Y’know, in case the regular LS50 wasn’t already badass enough. Seriously though — this thing’s got style.
The LS50 and its Snoop Dogg inspired counterpart will ship this fall. Expect Gaming Trend to have news and a review as that window approaches.
The GAEMS Guardian
Shortly before E3, I had the opportunity to go hands-on with one of the most exciting pieces of gaming hardware I’ve seen in awhile: The GAEMS Guardian. You can read my preview here, but in summary, the GAEMS Guardian is an absolute beast packed into a briefcase that allows the content creator to take their entire studio with them in one portable package.
Those who know me will tell you that I already take my GAEMS Vanguard with me just about everywhere I go — business trips, vacations, family visits, and even a first date in one instance. But where the Vanguard gives me a basic, inelegant way of bringing my Xbox around with me, the Guardian aims to let you take the whole damn home theater with you, plus the tools of the trade for a streamer.
With a stunning 1440p 24” display, two stereo speakers with subwoofers, and a media center that gives you complete control of the device in an instant, the GAEMS Guardian is the very last word in portable excellence. And with an HDMI passthrough, and plenty of space for cords and accessories in the box, it’s easier than ever to set up the rig and start playing.
At E3, the folks at GAEMS brought an extra surprise, by showing a version of the GAEMS Guardian with a powerful PC built into it, which was still just a hypothetical the last time I got a demo. Playing with a keyboard and mouse requires some extra work, but by making use of the USB ports built into the media center it’s as pain-free as one could hope — although you’ll need a separate bag to store your keyboard. Still, playing a PC out of the Guardian felt natural and delivered a decidedly high-end experience, which is no small feat for a computer built into the side of a briefcase.
The Guardian is one of my most anticipated pieces of hardware in 2019, so expect more coverage in the coming months. You can get your hands on one of these absolute beasts later this year!
Buddah Tek Rover 1 & R1 Messenger Bag
One of the biggest hardware surprises I saw at E3 was an upcoming product from Buddah Tek called the Rover 1, which pairs with the very stylish R1 Messenger Bag. The Rover 1 is an extremely compact laptop-like device that you can put most current generation consoles into, allowing you to easily take your gaming console experience with you wherever you go. It’s a simple device, and not a new concept for gamers, who have found ways for years to go mobile with console games. But where other mobile console solutions can be bulky and tacky, Buddah Tek sets itself apart by managing to look stylish and hip. The Rover 1 is black with red trim, and has a classy pattern that makes it look like a designer handbag or a Louis Vuitton accessory. When turned on, the red trim faintly glows, and the pattern doubles as a venting system to keep your console running cool in style.
The Rover 1 has a 13.3” screen, and is powered by the console you pair with it, removing the necessity for multiple power cords to start gaming. It also has dual speakers and a subwoofer, as well as a jack for headphones if you need a lowkey option. Alternatively, you can simply pair a headset with a console as you normally would. Paired with the R1 Messenger Bag, the Rover 1 can easily be transported, and look classy in the process. Crafted with vegan leather, with a padded, monogrammed interior, the messenger bag is all about luxury and fashion.
With the Rover 1 and its messenger bag, Buddah Tek hopes to create a new category for gamers who want to take their games with them without sacrificing their personal swagger in doing so. The Rover 1 is something that celebrities and influencers could be seen with — a luxury item that’s meant to make a statement as much as it’s meant to serve a function for mobile console gaming. And that’s something that our industry hasn’t seen before.
The Rover 1 is available for preorder now, and will hit the streets in September.
Xbox Elite Controller Series 2
When the Xbox Elite Controller got into the hands of players in 2015, it was a game changer for hardcore Xbox players, who had been asking for a high-end first party controller for years. And while its success showed that there was a bigger market for this kind of product than was originally thought, Microsoft’s first go at creating a premium controller wasn’t without its shortcomings. The amount of profiles one could pre-load onto the controller was limited to just two, the thumbsticks couldn’t be adjusted (aside from replacing the type), the shoulder buttons were known to break after heavy use, and the rubberized grips had a tendency to come unglued after a time.
With the Xbox Elite Controller Series II, Microsoft seems to have earned some hard-won wisdom, and has overhauled their premium controller in some key areas. Most importantly, the major issues with the first elite controller have been fixed. The plastic shoulder buttons have been reinforced and the rubberized grips have been switched to a full wrap around the controller to improve grip and help mitigate the failure rate there. I was also told that they’ve switched to a new glue here that should be more reliable, even when the controller is exposed to hot weather.
But the real magic of the Series II is in how it lets players do more than they’ve ever been able to do, and the amount of new features is honestly staggering. They’ve added a new, even shorter hair trigger lock for the left and right trigger, the ability to adjust tension in the thumbsticks to the player’s preferred accuracy, bluetooth connection (instead of Xbox wireless), so that the elite can be paired with a PC without any additional pieces, and much more. One of the most impressive additions is the ability to customize your controller to recognize a “shift” command. This means that you can create your own commands on the controller that activate by holding a “shift” button and then pressing a secondary button while the shift button is held. So, for example, you might designate the “A” button as your shift key, and then create a new command for pressing “Y” while the shift button is held. You can even make it so that these commands link to a specific function of the UI, like “record footage” or “invite party to game,” which removes the necessity to open up the dashboard and press buttons, or use voice commands through Kinect (yes, there are still some of us who use Kinect on occasion).
The Series II also comes with an internal battery, marking the first time that an Xbox controller has not required you to bring your own batteries or battery packs. This change is sure to divide players, as many people (myself included) prefer to choose our own battery solutions. Although the Series II is said to last 40 hours on a single charge, the question remains as to what happens once the internal rechargeable battery reaches the end of its lifespan. Will there be a way to open up the controller and replace the internal battery, or will we be expected to throw out the controller and buy a new one once the battery goes? In any case, the Series II comes bundled with a charging dock that can be used on its own, or placed inside the controller’s case and charged while inside. The Series II also utilizes USB-C for the first time in Xbox’s history, which is a welcome change from the micro-USB port that can be found in other Xbox One controllers.
Xbox also announced that Xbox One accessories, including the Series II, will be forward compatible with Project Scarlett, Microsoft’s next generation console. Having had a chance to go hands-on with the controller, I’m incredibly excited to make it the controller I use for the rest of this console generation and beyond.
The Xbox Elite Controller Series II will be available in November of this year, just in time for the fall lineup.
Mobile Edge Core Gaming Backpack
One thing I didn’t expect to be impressed by at E3 was a backpack of all things, but the Core Gaming Backpack from Mobile Edge did just that. At first glance, the black rucksack seems unremarkable enough — a bulky bag that’s obviously been optimized for a heavy load. But once you take a closer look, the inspired design and meticulous attention to detail becomes apparent.
The incredible thing about the Core Gaming Backpack is in how well it’s been designed to hold all of your gaming devices in one efficient package. The backmost pocket is large and spacious, and has a space for a computer keyboard and a bulky gaming laptop, which rests behind a see-through pocket so that it can quickly make it through airport security. The frontmost pocket is smaller, but designed to hold a variety of essential components, including slots for memory cards, USB sticks, and a power bank, which can be threaded through a hole in the backpack to charge devices located elsewhere in the backpack.
But the center pocket is where the excellent design of the bag is most apparent. Firstly, the zippers go all the way to the bottom of the backpack, allowing you to open the bag all the way and rest each half upon a flat surface. The space available in this pocket is staggering, and has slots for gaming laptops, consoles, and even a dedicated spot for a tablet with microfiber material meant to protect an exposed screen. There are also compartments that can be used for wires and controllers, as well as a hook to hang a gaming headset. When fully optimized, this space can fit multiple gaming devices and all their accessories in an organized and effective manner — a godsend for gaming pack rats like me who would rather not leave the house without all their devices.
The backpack also has 4 exterior pockets to hold additional items, including 2 which can accommodate bottles. The straps that you wear are bulky, padded, and reinforced — you’re likely to be carrying a heavy load, and they’ve done their best to make that as comfortable as possible. Alternatively, you can carry the bag via the handle on the top, which has rubber grooves and is reinforced by metal wiring in its center. The bag also comes in a version that has a large velcro spot on the back for you to easily customize the backpack’s look.
Mobile Edge’s Core Gaming Backpack is available now, and if you’ve been searching for the ultimate storage solution for all your gaming equipment, it’s worth taking a look.
These were the best hardware and accessories I saw at E3 this year. Keep an eye out for more news and reviews on everything I wrote about here, and more!