Portable gaming may not be anything new, as the original GameBoy took the world by storm all the way back in 1989, but there is a new evolution afoot that brings more feature-rich devices designed specifically for gaming to the consumer. Three models in particular stole the attention this year at the Consumer Electronics Show.
NVIDIA Project Shield
Project Shield is without question one of the hottest items at CES this year. Like most of the portable gaming consoles on display, it plays Android games from Google Play. Unlike the rest, it can also stream PC games directly to the tablet through the power of Steam, as long the PC is on the local network.
Project Shield also comes with a smaller form factor, and its folding screen makes it seem like a much more portable device overall. Of all the gaming tablets, this seems to be the one drawing the most attention on the show floor, and with good reason. NVIDIA's appointments for hands on play sessions are booked though the end of the show, giving a solid indicator of the interest level for the device.
The Razer Edge gaming tablet (previously known as Project Fiona) was first shown at CES last year, and it had gamers salivating at the prospect at what it might offer. While not as portable as the other two consoles we saw this year, it packs a lot more punch, and is powered by Windows 8 instead of Android. The Razer Edge has a tablet form factor, but it's really a portable PC, and that's downright awesome.
The device has seen some evolution since last year's prototype. The handle controls are now detachable, which should help in terms of portability. The device can also be used as a full-fledged gaming console, which could have some really interesting implications going forward.
Back in August, we heard that Archos was bringing a new gaming focused tablet to market, and at CES, the company had the Archos GamePad on the show floor. It runs Android, and from a design perspective, it looks more like a PS Vita than a tablet. That said, it is small enough to be portable.
The Archos GamePad on display had Pro Evolution Soccer, Dead Trigger, and Trials, and all of them worked fairly well with the device. Fairly is the key word, as it still seems that the control mapping needs a little work. The device certainly has potential, but it still needs a little work before it is ready to go to toe-to-toe with Razer and NVIDIA.
Those who like some gaming on the go are already well catered for but, if the showroom floor at CES 2013 is any indication, they're likely to be even more spoiled for choice in the not too distant future. Is there room for them all? We'll have to wait and see.