This Is Still One of the Best Gaming Monitors You Can Buy

Illustration for article titled This Is Still One of the Best Gaming Monitors You Can Buy

Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

A gaming rig is only as powerful as its weakest component. Think about it: Does it really make sense to spend thousands on a cutting-edge graphics card, a CPU powerful enough to not bottleneck it, and some wild amount of storage, like 2TB of SSDs and 128GB of RAM, only to turn around and plug into a 21.5-inch monitor plucked from a Best Buy clearance bin? (And no, it’s not better if you plug it into several clearance-bin monitors.)

There’s probably some sort of middle-ground monitor between “found in the clearance bin” and the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ. But since I just spent two weeks playing video games instead of finishing this review because every time I turned around to test something on the PG27UQ I got sucked into how beautiful everything was…well, why bother with mediocrity when you can get a monitor so pretty it will destroy your productivity?

Possibly because the ROG Swift PG27UQ is more than $1,000 (price ranges from $1,200 to $1,500 online). That’s right: This monitor isn’t just on the pricier side, it might cost more than your entire computer. But god it’s so pretty.

Advertisement

It’s hard to justify a $1,200 price tag, but hear me out. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is a sleek yet sturdy 27-inch gaming monitor with a 4K UHD quantum-dot IPS display with full-array backlighting and a DCI-3P color gamut. It supports Nvidia’s G-Sync HDR technology, and it also has at least three different ways to display the ROG (Republic of Gamers) eye logo in lights. Oh, and the lights are compatible with Asus’ Aura Sync technology, so you can sync up the monitor’s lights with any other ROG peripherals you happen to have lying around.

Ports!

Ports!
Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

Here’s the thing, though: This isn’t a new monitor. The PG27UQ came out in June of 2018—that’s right, it’s more than two years old. And while it’s been holding its own against the competition pretty well—it’s a gorgeous monitor even by today’s standards—it is starting to show its age, especially now that the next-gen consoles have dropped. The PG27UQ has two digital display inputs, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1x HDMI 2.0 (it also has 2x downstream USB 3.0, 1x upstream USB 3.0, and 1x 3.5mm audio jack; all ports are hidden under a removable plastic back panel). But both the Microsoft Xbox 5 and the Sony PlayStation 5 have HDMI 2.1 ports.

Advertisement

These days there are generally two types of digital display inputs: DisplayPort and HDMI. Both of these inputs have undergone several revisions since their debut—the current revisions are DisplayPort 2.0 and HDMI 2.1—and each new standard brings increased transmission bandwidth. This is important because in order to take full advantage of the PG27UQ’s 4K UHD resolution at its overclocked 144Hz refresh rate, you need a lot of bandwidth—more bandwidth than an HDMI 2.0 standard gives you. With HDMI 2.0, you can get a max data rate of about 14.4 Gbps, but with HDMI 2.1 you can get a max data rate of about 42.6 Gbps—that’s a pretty big difference. DisplayPort 1.4 gives you a max data rate of about 25.92 Gbps—not quite as much as HDMI 2.1, but still quite a bit more than HDMI 2.0.

If you’re a PC gamer and only a PC gamer, this may not seem like a huge issue. DisplayPort 1.4 shouldn’t present too many problems when you’re trying to push up to that 144Hz refresh rate. If you’re a console gamer, however—specifically a next-gen console gamer—this could be a dealbreaker. You’ll still be able to play your Xbox 5 or PS5 on this monitor, but I’m not sure it makes sense to drop two grand on the monitor to end all monitors if you’re not going to be able to get both ultra high-def picture and super snappy refresh rates when you play the latest console games. This is just something to keep in mind. This monitor was a good buy a couple of years ago, but it has depreciated at least a little since then.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled This Is Still One of the Best Gaming Monitors You Can Buy

Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

Digital input drama aside, this display is gorgeous. I’m not talking about the physical aesthetics—it’s a sleek-looking monitor, but I’ll come back to that—I’m talking about the picture.

Advertisement

The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is a 4K UHD display with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a 3840 x 2160 resolution. The screen measures 27 inches diagonally, which is a good size for a monitor (more than 27 inches starts to get unwieldy). The Windows 10 interface looks great scaled up to 125%, and if you aren’t as easily distracted as I am by attractive displays, this would make an excellent work monitor.

The PG27UQ has full-array backlighting, which means there are LEDs all over the screen lighting it, as opposed to just at the edges. This means a couple of things. First, the screen can get very bright. The PG27UQ can hit 1000 nits, which is…well, very bright. For reference, the iPhone 12 Pro has a “typical” max brightness level of 800 nits and an HDR max brightness level of 1200 nits. Phones are designed to be used outside, in direct sunlight, while gigantic gaming monitors typically are not, so 1000 nits is very bright.

Advertisement

The second benefit of full-array backlighting is how it affects HDR (high-dynamic range) and contrast. Full-array backlighting allows for more precise control over local dimming, and the PG27UQ has 384 LED zones that can be independently controlled (dimmed or brightened). This means the screen can produce images with excellent contrast ratios—super dark, inky blacks and bright, vibrant colors without compromising image quality. This is great for darker, grungier games with HDR support, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider. There’s lots of depth and detail, no muddying. It’s also good for brighter, more vibrant games, like No Man’s Sky. Even games without HDR support, like Subnautica, are entrancing on this monitor.

Illustration for article titled This Is Still One of the Best Gaming Monitors You Can Buy

Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

Advertisement

Calibrating the PG27UQ is a snap. On the back of the display, in the lower-right corner, there are four buttons and a mini-joystick for navigating through the monitor’s on-screen menus. The main menu, which you can navigate solely with the joystick, is where you’ll find options like overclocking, blue light filtering, and screen calibration, as well as options for controlling the many lights on the monitor and stand (and Aura Sync).

The PG27UQ actually looks pretty good out of the box. It didn’t need much calibration, but it wasn’t perfect, so it still helped. The monitor also has several visual preset modes—scenery, racing, cinema, RPG, FPS, sRGB—as well as a GamePlus menu, which has some gamer-friendly tools such as timers, an FPS counter, and a tool for aligning multiple screens.

Advertisement

The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is built like a tank—a sleek, stylish tank, but a tank nonetheless. It comes in a box larger than my TV (which is admittedly not that big at just 32 inches) and includes several accessories: a stand, input cables (HDMI, DisplayPort, USB), a pack of lenses for the stand’s built-in logo light, and instructions.

Illustration for article titled This Is Still One of the Best Gaming Monitors You Can Buy

Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

Advertisement

I really loved the tripod-style stand. It looks neat, with blade-like legs, a downward-facing light that projects the ROG logo onto your desk, and a backward-facing light that projects the ROG logo onto the wall behind it. But it’s not so obnoxiously over-the-top that it could only be used as a gaming monitor, and you can turn off the ROG projection lights from the on-screen menu. It’s also incredibly sturdy and well-built, both adjustable and ergonomic. It’s easy to adjust the height of the monitor, swivel it from side to side, tilt it, and even pivot it a full 90 degrees for a vertical display.

The stand does take up a little more room than I initially expected it would, but it is a pretty thick monitor. It has its own fan/cooling system packed in, after all. Together, the monitor and stand weigh a little over 20 pounds, which is about twice as much as my other 27-inch monitor (a modest, budget-friendly BenQ I actually did pick up out of a clearance bin at Fry’s a few years ago).

Advertisement

The monitor itself is a nice mix of clean, classic styling from the front and more aggressive gamer-oriented styling on the back. From the front, the display is almost mundane: just a 27-inch screen with an anti-glare coating and a matte black medium-sized bezel. You can tell it’s a premium monitor, but it doesn’t look like some futuristic alien thing (see: Acer Predator x27 and its screen hood), which means it would blend easily into an office, or a home office.

The back of the monitor is where it starts to get more gamer-oriented, though it’s not nearly as aggressively-styled as some ROG products. The back of the monitor features a giant ROG eye logo that lights up and syncs with Asus’ Aura Sync technology. While I don’t necessarily think I’d use the stand’s backward-facing logo light, I do like that this monitor has lights for both the user and the viewer. It is a little disappointing to buy a cool gaming peripheral and then never get to admire the lights yourself.

Advertisement

The lighting effects have a very specific aesthetic.

The lighting effects have a very specific aesthetic.
Photo: Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/Gizmodo

And this is definitely a monitor for a very specific type of gamer, specifically one with a decently powerful Nvidia graphics card, because you’ll need at least an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti for the PG27UQ. The monitor supports Nvidia G-Sync HDR but not FreeSync, so if you have an AMD graphics card…move along. You also need to connect via DisplayPort if you want that overclocked refresh rate, because the HDMI tops out at a refresh rate of 60Hz.

Advertisement

The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ monitor is impressive, even after a couple of years on the market, but all that said: Is it worth $1,200?

Well, if you’re a console-hating Nvidia fan with a maxed-out rig, this is still a great monitor. You can often find it on sale—I’ve seen it dip to nearly 50% off at times—which would make it an even more compelling purchase. It has a gorgeous display, wide color gamut, speedy refresh rate (via DisplayPort), and it’s definitely built to last. It’s just not quite as impressive or as future-proof as it once was, now that the future is actually here.

Advertisement

README

  • Absolutely gorgeous.
  • Absolutely expensive.

Advertisement

Oculus Will Soon Support Multi-User Accounts, but Sharing a VR Headset Sounds Disgusting

Illustration for article titled Oculus Will Soon Support Multi-User Accounts, but Sharing a VR Headset Sounds Disgusting

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Beginning next month, Oculus will roll out multi-user accounts and app sharing, in a move meant to make it easier for multiple people to share a single headset. The feature will first launch on the Quest 2 before rolling out to all Quest devices, and yes, you will have to do this using your Facebook accounts.

In a blog explaining the new features, Oculus notes that for multi-user accounts, you’ll have to designate a primary account holder. That person can then add up to three secondary accounts, but app sharing can only be enabled on a single headset. As in, if you’re a secondary account holder, you can only launch the primary account holder’s apps on that shared Quest 2. If a secondary account user buys their own Quest 2 down the line, it won’t work. Secondary account holders also won’t be able to share apps they buy with any other account. If you do enable App Sharing, you should also know that while you can log onto multiple devices at the same time, you can’t run the same app on that account on different headsets simultaneously. Also, if you want to change who the primary user is, you have to do a factory reset.

For developers, Oculus says apps will automatically be opted into App Sharing beginning Feb. 13. If developers aren’t keen, they’ll need to opt out by Feb. 12. Any new Rift or Quest apps that are created after Feb. 13 must support App Sharing.

Advertisement

That’s a lotta fine print! But I also have a big question: Are there really that many people who want to share VR headsets? Oculus says it anticipates more households will buy multiple devices. Right, so sharing apps makes sense. But limiting shared features to a single headset is baffling.

The Quest 2 has porous foam. Porous foam is notorious for trapping human sweat, and even if you were to wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe, it’s porous foam. It’s fine if it’s your own sweat, but the sweat of other people? I love my friends and family, but I do not love their stinky sweat glands. Some of them don’t have the decency to use a daily cleanser and moisturizer, so on top of sweat, I might have to deal with flaky skin cells rubbing against my forehead. Sweat aside, VR headsets also enclose your eyes and nose, prime vectors for germs and infection. No thank you.

This unwanted exchange of bodily fluids is probably why VR arcades still aren’t a major thing. (Besides, you know, the expense.) Many moons ago, I got to spend a few hours at Bandai Namco’s VR Zone: Project I Can in Tokyo, a pop-up VR arcade. There were attendants who vigorously disinfected each headset after each use and applied disposable barrier masks. My skin never made direct contact with the headset, and you know what, that was ideal. I have zero faith that normal people would be that diligent.

Advertisement

Oculus has an FAQ on how to clean and disinfect Oculus headsets for businesses. Why just businesses? We’re in a pandemic! Everyone should be doing this! Even if it involves using bacterial wipes, barrier masks, and washing your hands multiple times.

I’m sure Oculus is theorizing that if one person in a household buys an Oculus Quest 2, they’ll play games with their family or roommates. Those people will then lust after their own Quest 2 after spending a few months playing with a shared headset. I get the logic, but surely I can’t be the only person who finds that whole prospect dubious. Maybe the company’s first priority should be ensuring that people aren’t locked out of their headsets.

Advertisement

The MagSafe PopSocket May Have Convinced Me That MagSafe Is Good (Maybe)

Illustration for article titled The MagSafe PopSocket May Have Convinced Me That MagSafe Is Good (Maybe)

Image: PopSocket

Apple introduced a new version of its classic MagSafe charging technology, previously used in MacBooks, with the iPhone 12. It works a little differently in the iPhone than it does in a laptop: a circular array of magnets embedded in back of the phone enables it to snap to a compatible accessory. It could be a charger, like Apple’s own MagSafe wireless charging puck, or it could be anything else you want to keep close to your phone, like a wallet. But I found the MagSafe charger to be just fine—it’s no easier or faster than using a Lightning charger and fast-charging brick—and I have no interest in snapping my credit cards and driver’s license to my phone. Yet at this year’s CES, third-party accessory makers showed off a handful of MagSafe gadgets that may have convinced me.

Specifically, I am intrigued by PopSockets’ MagSafe PopGrip. I have, until now, had an aversion to PopSockets. I get why people like them—they make it easier to use your phone one-handed, particularly when taking photos—but the process of applying a PopSocket base to my phone or phone case has always been unappealing to me. I simply don’t want to deal with applying the PopGrip’s gel-based adhesive to my phone or its case, or ever have to think about repositioning it. I also don’t want to have a PopSocket on my phone at all times, and the grip’s gel-based adhesive dries out when exposed to air. But the MagSafe version simply snaps to the back of an iPhone 12 or an iPhone 12 phone case, no application required, and you can leave it behind whenever you want to. This might just be the accessory that convinces me that PopSockets are good—depending on how much it costs when it launches this spring.

But we also saw a handful of MagSafe charging stands that seem incredibly useful. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, Belkin’s new $100 2-in-1 MagSafe charger for AirPods is a more affordable option than its $150 3-in-1. Anker’s offerings, which include a 2-in-1 stand for charging an Apple Watch and an iPhone and a 3-in-1 for charging your AirPods, too, could be the most compelling price-wise, as Anker products are usually on the cheaper end for accessories.

Advertisement

But what I’d like to see is Mophie step up here. Mophie’s 3-in-1 charging stand, while expensive, has been my absolute favorite charging solution for a while, but it’s a little finicky with an iPhone 12. Sometimes the phone will stop charging when it’s barely juiced up and needs to be repositioned to start charging again. A Mophie MagSafe 3-in-1 would be the dream.

But what I’m actually waiting for is a MagSafe tripod grip for shooting photos and videos. Spring-loaded smartphone grips are atrocious, and I’ve pinched my fingers many a time trying to position them properly. A MagSafe PopSocket can only go so far—let’s see some pro-level MagSafe accessories.

What are you hoping to see accessory makers do with MagSafe? Brainstorm in the comments.

Fisher-Price’s New Toys Will Teach Your Kids About the Glory of ’80s Gadgets

Illustration for article titled Fisher-Prices New Toys Will Teach Your Kids About the Glory of 80s Gadgets

Image: Fisher-Price

Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.

Want your infant to grow up and appreciate what a technological marvel a touchscreen tablet really is? Fisher-Price has revealed three additions to its preschool learning line: new educational toys inspired by retro gadgets of the ‘80s and ‘90s that will let parents teach their kids what life was like before streaming services and 3D gaming.

Gif: Fisher-Price

Our favorite retro gadget being added to Fisher-Price’s Laugh & Learn line is the Lil’ Gamer, which was inspired by the original Nintendo Game Boy. It can’t actually play video games but it has a pretend screen that lights up with colored LEDs (remember, these are designed for toddlers, not a kid who’s already comfortable with a smartphone or tablet), as well as action buttons and a directional pad that triggers music, retro gaming-inspired sound effects, and instructions designed to help kids learn about shapes, colors, and numbers. There’s a spring-loaded cartridge on top that pops in and out of the handheld, and on the side is a set of sliding tetrominoes that perfectly stack together when all bunched up.

Advertisement

Gif: Fisher-Price

Can you really put out a line of retro gadget inspired toys and not include the Sony Walkman, the gadget that started the personal electronics revolution? Obviously not, so toddlers can learn about the history of pre-streaming personal audio with the Fisher-Price Puppy’s Mixtape cassette player. It features light-up playback buttons that trigger songs, sound effects, and phrases designed to help teach concepts like the alphabet, counting, and colors. (You’ll need to bring them up to speed about the challenges of taping songs off the radio yourself.) More importantly, the toy teaches kids about the hardships of a malfunctioning Walkman eating your favorite mixtape with a pretend tape ribbon that extends and can be retracted by turning a spinning dial.

Gif: Fisher-Price

No gadget epitomizes the extravagance of the ‘80s like the boombox. Walking through your neighborhood with a home stereo on your shoulder forcing everyone to embrace your taste in music is a rite of passage that kids raised on wireless headphones will never know. They can get a taste of the boombox lifestyle with the Fisher-Price Busy Boombox, which features a wide assortment of dials, buttons, sliders, wheels, and even a pop-out drawer where three decades ago a cassette tape could be inserted. There’s even a make-believe radio tuning dial that helps teach toddlers numbers and important historical lessons about a bygone era when you had to sit through hours of endless ads and DJ banter to hear your favorite song.

Advertisement

The Watchy Is an Open-Source Smartwatch for Those Who Miss the Pebble

There are gadgets you like, and then there are gadgets you love. For many, the Pebble smartwatch fell into that latter category. It was simple, affordable, and the first smartwatch that made everyone realize smartwatches weren’t just a gimmick. The company deserved better than having its corpse picked apart by Fitbit, and if you still have a soft spot for the Pebble, the hackable Watchy could fill that hole in your heart.

As a former Pebble devotee, I’ve come to appreciate the Apple Watch experience as it’s freed me from having to carry my phone with me wherever I go. But at times it feels a little over-ambitious, and a little too much like Apple tried to create a wrist-worn version of the iPhone. That, and I have to charge it every night, which is a pain. The Pebble, by comparison, was bare-bones feature-wise, but did everything I really needed a smartwatch to do, including serving up notifications for days and days before needing a charge.

Advertisement

The Watchy appears to take a similarly Pebble-like approach to smartwatches. Instead of a fancy full-color OLED display, it opts for a monochromatic 1.54-inch electronic paper screen with a resolution of 200 x 200 pixels which, like the Pebble, is probably a low-power LCD instead of actual E Ink. It gives the Watchy excellent viewing angles, even in direct sunlight, but it doesn’t appear to include a backlight or sidelight, which means that in the dark you’ll need to reach for a flashlight to check the time.

Built around an ESP32 board, the Watchy comes mostly assembled (all you really have to do is connect the display and the battery to the mainboard and use some sticky tape to hold the components together) and ready to accept a watch strap. As with any open-source creation, the smartwatch can be customized with 3D-printed enclosures so it looks like less of a hack and more like something airport security wouldn’t bat an eye at.

Although it lacks fitness-tracking features like heart-rate monitoring and you’ll never want to get it wet, the Watchy does include wifi, Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting to a smartphone, a vibration motor for haptic notifications, a clock, four physical buttons on the side, and a 3-axis accelerometer that allows the smartwatch to detect gesture motions. For just $45, it’s fairly well-equipped, but as with most open-source products, the real value of the Watchy is its potential.

Advertisement

Using the Arduino integrated development environment, users comfortable with coding can make the Watchy do anything they want—and not just create their own completely custom watch faces, which is something the Apple Watch doesn’t even allow yet. The creator of Watchy, a company called Squarofumi, promises extensive documentation through its website, including watch faces that can be downloaded and designs for 3D-printed cases, but the content is sparse at the moment. The Watchy might not be for everyone (I can’t imagine my parents being comfortable trying to customize it) but it’s as good an excuse as any to try your hand at coding, even if you never fell in love with the Pebble years ago.

This Nifty Strap Lets You Control the Apple Watch With Gestures

Illustration for article titled This Nifty Strap Lets You Control the Apple Watch With Gestures

Image: Mudra Band

Controlling an object with a hand gesture sounds more like Jedi wizardry than a real-life possibility. But after watching a CES 2021 demo of the Mudra Brand, I have to admit that perhaps this tech isn’t as far-fetched or gimmicky as I previously thought.

The Mudra Band looks pretty much like any smartwatch band would, except that the inside lining has several square-shaped Surface Nerve Conductance (SNC) sensors. These sensors measure something the company refers to as “biopotentials”—basically, the electrochemical activity produced by your nervous system. Fundamentally, this is the same concept used by more familiar tech like ECGs, albeit for a much different purpose.

Gif: Mudra Band

Advertisement

This definitely sounds cool, but so far gesture tech has been a bit wonky. Normally, it involves waving at a camera or IR sensors, much like Google’s Project Soli (which powers the gesture features on Pixel phones) or the LG G8 ThinQ. Gizmodo got to compare both, and while the Pixel was much more reliable, neither were really game-changers. Likewise, Samsung quietly introduced control gestures on its Galaxy Watch 3 but in practice, I found them hard to use and gimmicky.

Given all this, I was skeptical going into the Mudra Band demo. The pitch is if you move your fingers in a specific way—say, pinching your thumb and forefinger together—you can single-handedly control the Apple Watch. The band supposedly picks up your neurological signals and then relays that to the smartwatch over Bluetooth. There are a lot of ways this could go sideways, and I had questions. Like, how sensitive were the sensors? Could it differentiate between intentional commands and accidental movements? How long did you have to wait between doing a gesture and it registering on the watch? What sort of applications and use cases would work with this thing?

Guy Wagner, the president and chief scientist at Wearable Devices Ltd (the company behind Mudra), demoed the device to me over video (due to the pandemic, of course), and it was actually impressive. On the Mudra app, I could see how the band was able to identify specific gestures, as well as detect in real-time when those gestures were made. More astonishing was the fact that if Wagner used his other hand to move a finger, nothing registered at all.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled This Nifty Strap Lets You Control the Apple Watch With Gestures

Image: Mudra Band

“I have to do it intentionally,” Wagner explained. “If I move it mechanically, nothing will happen. It’s the intention to do a movement. It’s not me thinking about making a phone call to someone or answering or dismissing that call.”

Advertisement

So it’s not mind-reading in the way we normally think of it, but watching it, it seemed pretty damn close.

Obviously, this kind of gesture tech would be very useful in a pandemic, where touching things willy nilly is not the best idea. It could also be helpful from a hands-free perspective. Personally, I would love it if I could skip to the next music track while running by simply curling a finger instead of having to slow down, view my surroundings, and then swipe through a screen. In the demo, I watched Wagner use the gesture tech to scroll through several movies in a streaming app, and even select one. He also used the band and some finger waggles to draw a picture within an art app. Right now, however, that sort of functionality is a bit further down the line. Wagner says that the focus is first on answering and dismissing phone calls, followed by media controls, and then whatever the customer base thinks is most relevant.

Wagner also thinks this tech could be useful for AR and VR. The problem right now is that there isn’t a particularly elegant way to navigate within a virtual space. You generally need a type of control, be it sticks, gloves, or ring-like cursors. The Mudra Band, or devices like it, could be a more intuitive way to interact with smart glasses or VR headsets.

Advertisement

At the moment, the Mudra Band isn’t available just yet, though the company has raised more than $200,000 on IndieGogo. You can also preorder the Mudra Band for $180 on the company’s website. Wagner says the first round of straps is currently in production, and that he expects to ship to backers sometime in March this year.

We’re live from our couches covering CES 2021! Click here to read our complete coverage.

Advertisement

GoPro Just Dropped a Crap-Ton of Experimental Features for Its Cameras

Illustration for article titled GoPro Just Dropped a Crap-Ton of Experimental Features for Its Cameras

Photo: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

Usually when a company introduces new features or updates for an existing gadget, they tend to be a bit…lacking. You may get one small update, two or three if you’re lucky. Well, buckle up GoPro fans: Today, the company is launching seven new experimental features, because why the hell not?

The new features are available for download today at the GoPro Labs website, which is where the company drops beta features that may never actually become “official.” This firmware update supports the Hero9 Black, Hero8 Black, Hero7 Black, and the GoPro Max. Some are updates to previously introduced features, like QR-code controls, while others seem to be aimed at letting users use their GoPros in more experimental ways. In any case, here’s a quick rundown of what’s launching today.

  • Camera motion triggers
  • USB Power triggers
  • Motion detection enhancements
  • Simplified live-streaming QR codes
  • Single-setting/one-button modes
  • New exposure modes
  • New QR code controls

Advertisement

The camera motion triggers use a GoPro’s accelerometer and/or gyroscope to start or stop capture only when it detects you’re in motion. The idea behind this is to maximize battery life and storage, as you won’t be recording footage of you just…standing somewhere figuring out what to record next. The USB Power triggers do the same, except the trigger is whenever the camera detects you’re plugged into a USB power source. According to the company, this should enable folks to use their GoPros as makeshift dashcams, which frankly sounds like a neat and economical way to repurpose an older GoPro.

Some of the updates are more passive. For example, the motion detection enhancements are basically extending that particular feature to all video modes, including the 360-degree motion detection in the GoPro Max. Likewise, the simplified live-streaming QR code just makes it faster to start a stream whenever you’re connected to wifi. As for the new QR code controls, GoPro is now adding support for 5K and the Hero9 Black’s HindSight capture feature. The new exposure modes also now allow you to set a timed exposure lock, as well as minimum shutter speeds.

Lastly, the single-setting/one-button mode essentially makes it so that all you can do on the camera is start or stop a capture. As for why you might want to do that, GoPro says it’s meant to help newbies from accidentally switching camera settings and modes while they learn how to use their devices.

In any case, in lieu of any new hardware, we love a meaty, backwards-compatible software update.

Advertisement

We’re live from our couches covering CES 2021! Click here to read our complete coverage.

Razer’s Wild Gaming Chair and Smart Mask Are Concept Gadgets Designed to Battle the Woes of 2021

Illustration for article titled Razers Wild Gaming Chair and Smart Mask Are Concept Gadgets Designed to Battle the Woes of 2021

Image: Razer

It just wouldn’t be CES (even a virtual one) without a couple far-out concept gadgets from Razer, and this year the company has dreamed up two devices designed to combat some of 2021’s biggest issues in the most Razer way possible.

For people who have been largely stuck at home for the better part of the year and are yearning for some more engaging entertainment, Razer’s Project Brooklyn is basically an attempt to transform a typical gaming chair into a full-on futuristic battle station. However, the big caveat with Project Brooklyn is that while Razer says the concept was inspired by current products like the Razer Iskur and includes components that are technically available (though only in very early stages of development), at least for now, Project Brooklyn only really exists in renders and the imaginations of Razer’s designers.

The centerpiece of Project Brooklyn is a massive 60-inch rollable OLED display that is positioned so that it wraps around a user’s head like a cockpit, delivering a full 180-degree panoramic view. This is easily Project Brooklyn’s most ambitious and far-flung piece of tech, and while nothing exactly like it currently exists, Razer says the idea came from seeing previous concept devices like the $87,000 rollable TV LG showed off at CES 2019.

Advertisement

However, Razer’s wild ideas don’t stop there. In addition to a fancy display, Project Brooklyn is attempting to break space and time with what Razer is calling 4D armrests that feature comfy foam cushions and multiple methods of adjustment so they can be expanded to create adjustable peripheral tables (for things like a mouse and keyboard). The idea is that by making them retractable, users will be able to more easily maneuver themselves into Razer’s sci-fi gaming pod or quickly switch between console or PC gaming.

Gif: Razer

While the chair itself is modeled after the Razer Iskur, Razer has also added built-in haptics to provide a full body rumble effect. Down below, Razer has borrowed the cable management system from its 27-inch Raptor monitor to both keep things tidy and show off Razer’s signature neon green. And of course, like practically every gadget Razer sells today, Project Brooklyn features full Chroma RGB lighting so the entire rig can blink and pulse in sync with the rest of your gaming gear.

Advertisement

Razer says there are no current plans to make Project Brooklyn a reality, but the company says: “The Project Brooklyn concept is intended to offer insights on how to improve user mechanics and design to deliver a more immersive gameplay experience and inspire Razer’s growing portfolio of gaming chairs in the near future.”

As for Razer’s other concept device, not only is Project Hazel a bit more relevant to our current reality, Razer has actually created a handful of prototypes to test out the concept for real. Designed for today’s need to prevent the spread of covid-19, Project Hazel is a smart face mask that features built-in N95 respirators embedded into a transparent plastic shroud, which allows people to see your face and emotions while still protecting you from airborne viruses.

Advertisement

Razer says the bacterial filtration efficiency Smart Pods on either side of the mask can remove at least 95% of airborne particles while also being easy to replace when needed. The transparent plastic section also comes with built-in lighting that automatically turns on at night so people can see your face, and Razer’s VoiceAmp tech uses mics and amps to make sure your voice isn’t muffled and sounds crisp and clear to those around you.

Advertisement

Around the outside of the mask, there’s also a silicone seal designed to prevent air from leaking in from outside and, of course, the inclusion of Razer Chroma RGB lighting lets everyone know you’re a real gamer. Finally, to make sure Project Hazel is always ready for use, the mask also comes with a charging case featuring sanitizing UV lights to disinfect the mask after every use.

Now as much as I’ve enjoyed poking fun at Project Hazel, I have to admit there’s something appealing about have a more substantial reusable mask that’s more comfortable and more capable of stopping airborne illnesses than a standard cloth or paper alternative. That said, I’m still not convinced the automatic lighting is really necessary, as it’s more likely to make you look like an evil space skeleton than a friendly stranger, and while I might be in the minority on this, one of the things I like most about wearing a mask is that people can’t see my face.

Advertisement

Like Project Brooklyn, there aren’t any current plans to start selling Project Hazel anytime soon, but Razer claims it is testing and exploring the concept of the mask to see if the idea might be viable for future production.

If you want to see more new gadgets and devices from CES 2021, click here to read our complete coverage.

Advertisement

Asus Revealed a New 2-in-1 Gaming Laptop, and I’m Like Whoa

Illustration for article titled Asus Revealed a New 2-in-1 Gaming Laptop, and Im Like Whoa

Image: Asus

Asus’ ROG line of gaming laptops have always stood out thanks to their flashy RGB lighting and aggressive aesthetic. Asus isn’t afraid to try something new, either. Last year, it released the well-received ROG Zephyrus G14, one of the first ROG gaming laptops powered by an AMD processor, as well all the Zephyrus Duo 15, a dual-screen gaming laptop. All of the usual suspects in the ROG gaming line-up are getting refreshed, but Asus has also thrown a new 2-in-1 convertible gaming laptop into the mix, the ROG Flow X13. Even wilder, all the gaming laptops only come with AMD as the option for a CPU. No sign of Intel anywhere.

A 2-in-1 gaming laptop isn’t something I would have ever guessed I wanted in my life, but here I am, completely intrigued. Like Lenovo’s Yoga laptops or Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, the Flow X13 also has 360-degree hinges that allow the display to fold completely backward. The idea of gaming on my laptop at my desk, and then crawling into bed and using it as an e-reader or sketchbook is totally novel, and yet I can’t help but wonder why one of these things didn’t happen sooner. It’s a great idea!

Advertisement

Ah wait—better performance means more heat, means a thicker laptop. Yeah, it’s obvious why they haven’t happened in the past. But hardware is powerful and thin enough now, so having a gaming laptop that doesn’t turn into an even bigger brick when the display is flipped back is possible; The Flow X13 weighs just 2.9lbs. and is 0.62 in. thick. Definitely the right weight and dimensions…hopefully.

The 16:10, 13-inch display comes with the option of either a 120 Hz refresh rate or Ultra HD 4K screen covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. Both choices of display also support Adaptive Sync and are Pantone Validated for color accuracy.

Inside, there’s up to an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS CPU that’s covered with a liquid metal thermal compound, which should help keep the CPU cooler than thermal paste. The GTX 1650 GPU is powered by a battery that gets up to 10 hours of life. The GPU is underwhelming—would have preferred something closer to a 1660 Ti at the very least—but Asus’ XG Mobile, a compact eGPU, is compatible with the Flow X13.

Advertisement

Asus says the XG Mobile is 6% of the size of typical eGPUs, but can feature up to an RTX 3080. It weighs about 2.2 lbs., measures just 6.1 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches, and is cooled by a vapor chamber. It also connects directly to the CPU via a custom PCIe 3.0 x8 interface, which Asus says is faster than Thunderbolt eGPUs. It also has an integrated 280W AC adapter that powers both the XG Mobile and Flow X13, so you won’t need to carry around a separate charging cable, unless you want it just in case.

The ROG Flow X13 and XG Mobile are currently available as a bundle in North America.

Advertisement

Asus also has a new Zephyrus Duo 15 SE, a special edition of its dual-screen gaming laptop. There’s an upgraded 16.5-inch main display, with either 4K UHD with a 120 Hz refresh rate, or a FHD display with a 300 Hz refresh. The smaller, 14.1-inch touchscreen display comes with either a 4K option at 3840 x 1100 or a 1920 x 550 alternative. Both use IPS-level technology, which is in-between a true IPS panel and a TN panel, and refresh at 60 Hz.

Advertisement

The Zephyrus Duo 15 SE is outfitted with up to a new AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU, up to 2 TB of SSD storage, and up to 32 GB of DDR4-3200 memory.

Asus says it’s increased the cooling efficiency of its Active Aerodynamic System (AAS), which has been around since the original ROG Zephyrus. The most recent Zephyrus Duo 15 was the last to use it, which had an 28.5mm intake after tilting the touchscreen—but this upcoming SE version will allow for more airflow. Asus also said it changed the design of its fan blades (every fan now has 84 blades) and it’s also covered the CPU with liquid metal.

Advertisement

This gaming laptop does not come cheap. At all. It’s currently available for pre-order in North America for an eye-popping $2,900.

Advertisement

Other ROG laptops to get a refresh are the ROG Strix Scar 15 and 17, which now both feature the first optical-mechanical keyboard in a Strix laptop. The 15 is a 15.6-inch screen with a 300 Hz refresh rate, while the 17 is a 17.3-inch screen with a 360 Hz refresh rate and a IPS-level panel. Either are available with new WQHD panels that feature a 165 Hz refresh rate and a 1440p resolution.

Specs-wise, both are available with up to an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and Nvidia RTX 3080, up to 64 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and dual 1 TB solid-state drives in RAID 0. The memory and storage are fully upgradeable, too, and easily accessible, according to Asus. Both also boast a smaller footprint, up to 7% smaller than last year’s models, and have a battery life of just over 12 hours, says Asus.

Advertisement

The ROG Strix Scar 15 and ROG Strix Scar 17 will be available in North America starting Q1 2021.

There’s also the new ROG Strix G15 and ROG Strix G17, not to be confused with the Strix Scar 15 and 17, as the Strix G is similar to the Strix Scar. This Strix 15 and 17 will feature up to an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, up to a GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, up to a 1 TB SSD, and up to 32 GB memory. Display options are between an FHD 300 Hz screen, or a WQHD 165Hz screen. Aside from the GPU and display variants, there isn’t that much difference between the G and the Scar.

Advertisement

The ROG Strix G15 will be available in North America starting Q1 2021, and the Strix G17 available for pre-order for a more palatable, but still pricey at $1,800.

We’re live from our couches covering CES 2021! Click here to read our complete coverage.

Advertisement

Razer’s Refreshed 15 and 17-inch Blades Are Getting New Screens and Faster GPUs for 2021

Illustration for article titled Razers Refreshed 15 and 17-inch Blades Are Getting New Screens and Faster GPUs for 2021

Image: Razer

At first glance, Razer’s refreshed line of 15-inch Blade and 17-inch Blade Pro laptops might not look much different than last year’s models, but inside is a different story—this year we get faster displays and GPUs, along with a subtly revamped design.

Starting with the 15-inch Blade and Blade Advanced, Razer is looking to give buyers a lot more options when it comes to configuring their systems. For more competitive gamers, Razer is adding a new 360Hz full HD display to high-end Blade Advanced configs. Meanwhile, the entire 15-inch Blade line is getting support for new Nvidia RTX 30-series Max-Q cards, with the more expensive Blade Advanced models able to equip up to an RTX 3080 GPU.

For those looking for a display with a higher resolution, Razer is still offering a 4K OLED panel on the Blade 15 Advanced, but there will also be a new 240Hz 2560 x 1440 QHD panel with Nvidia G-Sync support and Nvidia’s battery-saving Optimus tech to help balance performance, battery life, and fidelity. And for those looking at something more affordable, Razer is also upgrading the Blade 15’s base display to a 144Hz panel instead of the 120Hz screens available on current models, so it’s not a huge jump, but still nice to see.

Advertisement

Certain high-end configs of the Blade 15 will even come with a full SD card reader.

Certain high-end configs of the Blade 15 will even come with a full SD card reader.
Image: Razer

The other big change is one that’s a bit less obvious, as Razer has revamped the Blade 15’s CNC aluminum body to be about 4% smaller than before, while also adding support for HDMI 2.1 on all models. But perhaps the most important new change is the addition of a new storage module with room for two M.2 SSDs stacked on top of each other. That means now along with new support for up to 64GB of RAM, you can cram up to 4TB of SSD storage in every Blade 15. Or if you want, you can spec the system with a single M.2 drive, and then add a second one on yourself post-purchase. And on some high-specced version of the Blade 15, users will also have the choice of a built-in full-sized SD card reader, which could be especially valuable for anyone doing photo or video editing.

Unlike the Blade 15, whose chassis got a small tweak, the exterior of the Blade Pro is largely staying the same.

Unlike the Blade 15, whose chassis got a small tweak, the exterior of the Blade Pro is largely staying the same.
Image: Razer

Like its smaller sibling, the 17-inch Blade Pro is getting a similar spec bump with HDMI 2.1, an updated range of displays, and support for up to an RTX 3080 GPU. Blade Pro panel choices will now consist of three choices: a full HD panel with a 360Hz refresh rate, a 2560 x 1440 panel at 165Hz, and a 4K display at 120Hz.

Advertisement

In the end, while Razer’s 15- and 17-inch laptops aren’t getting a full makeover, they are getting notable speed bumps for both display and graphics performance, and that’s always a good thing.

The 15-inch Blade and 17-inch Blade Pro will start at $1,700 and $2,300, respectively, and are available for preorder today on Razer.com with official sales slated for Jan. 26.

Advertisement

If you want to see more new gadgets and devices from CES 2021, click here to read our complete coverage.