PRE­VIEW: RAZER FORGE TV

TekSavvy Insider - - Contents -

When Razer an­nounced it’s ground­break­ing Forge TV at this year’s In­ter­na­tional CES it caused a se­ri­ous stir around the TekSavvy In­sider of­fices: fi­nally, we’d be able to play our PC in the living room with min­i­mal fuss and, more im­por­tantly, with­out the need to spend a small for­tune on a Steam Ma­chine.

How­ever, amid all our ex­cite­ment about the project we failed to note one hugely im­por­tant thing… the Razer Cor­tex: Stream app, nec­es­sary for stream­ing PC games, won’t ac­tu­ally be launch­ing un­til af­ter the hard­ware it­self, most likely to­wards the end of the sum­mer. With­out Cor­tex: Stream, though, what’s this de­vice ca­pa­ble of, and can it cap­ture a de­cently sized share of a mar­ket al­ready sat­u­rated set- top boxes on its hard­ware mer­its alone? The Razer Forge TV is an im­pres­sive lit­tle blighter. Its Qual­comm Snap­dragon 805 chipset is driven by the quad- core, 2.5GHz, Krait 450 CPU and the Adreno 420 GPU, as well as 2GB of RAM, mak­ing it quite the pow­er­house, rel­a­tively speak­ing. Users will also be of­fered 16GB of built- in stor­age, but, cu­ri­ously, there’s no mi­croSD slot avail­able which brings some po­ten­tial headaches down the line. It’s not yet clear how much sys­tem stor­age the Forge TV’s flavour of An­droid Lol­lipop will gob­ble up, but un­less a clear al­ter­na­tive to mi­croSD cards is im­ple­mented, the unit is se­verely ham­strung from day one, and that’s never a good start­ing po­si­tion. The hope­ful news comes by virtue of the fact that the de­vice fea­tures a USB 3.0 port at its rear, how­ever with a num­ber of con­trol pe­riph­er­als launch­ing along­side it, one prob­a­bly won’t be enough un­less it’ll also sup­port a pow­ered USB hub, to which users could the­o­ret­i­cally connect a high- ca­pac­ity flash drive or ex­ter­nal hard drive, as well as the Ser­val con­troller and Tur­ret key­board/ mouse combo when they’re in need of charg­ing. Given the ul­ti­mate ap­pli­ca­tion of the de­vice, Razer is go­ing to need to clar­ify the USB and stor­age sit­u­a­tion sooner rather than later, or risk los­ing the faith of the count­less games who’ve been wait­ing for hard­ware like this for years. Set­ting aside the above is­sues, when the Forge TV launches it’ll es­sen­tially be an An­droid set- top box, which means you should be able to en­joy all your favourite An­droid apps on the big screen, in­clud­ing the likes of Net­flix and Chrome, as well as an abun­dance of high- end An­droid games. It’s a nice sell on pa­per, but we’re not re­ally short of An­droid- pow­ered me­dia de­vices, and the gam­ing side of the plat­form is still fail­ing to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of more se­ri­ous gamers - and they’re the de­mo­graphic the Forge is most firmly pointed in the di­rec­tion of. The $ 99 US price point for the stand­alone box is def­i­nitely at­trac­tive enough to con­vince some to adopt early, no doubt, but it’s the $ 149 US bun­dle that we’re more in­ter­ested in, since it comes bun­dled with the Ser­val con­troller, a de­vice not en­tirely un­like the Xbox 360 pad, al­beit with a clip for your smart­phone and a few ad­di­tional but­tons, and the Cor­tex: Stream app - both of which are set to re­tail separately for $ 79 US and $ 49 US re­spec­tively. Once Cor­tex: Stream launches the Forge TV will take on a whole new lease of life ( as­sum­ing the whole project hasn’t been canned at that stage for poor sales), trans­form­ing im­me­di­ately from rel­a­tively point­less

An­droid box to the kind of hi- tech wiz­ardry that nerds like us just can’t get enough of! By in­stalling the desk­top ver­sion of the soft­ware on your com­puter and sync­ing ev­ery­thing up with the app on your Forge TV, you’ll be able to stream your favourite PC games di­rect to your living room TV us­ing the same kind of tech that has proven so suc­cess­ful for the PlaySta­tion Vita’s Re­mote Play func­tion­al­ity. If you’ve got a re­spectable enough piece of base gam­ing hard­ware, that means you’ll be able to take ad­van­tage of your home net­work’s lo­cal speeds to de­liver HD vi­su­als straight to your TV, en­abling you to en­joy con­sole style ease- of- use for a frac­tion of the cost, since both the Razer Forge TV bun­dle and dig­i­tally dis­trib­uted PC games cost a mere frac­tion of the cost of their con­sole coun­ter­parts. We’ve made the sug­ges­tion in the past that the con­sole mar­ket could be dam­aged by the launch of Valve’s Steam Ma­chines project, but con­tin­ual hold- ups, high en­try level price points and a real lack of fo­cus have done con­sid­er­able dam­age to that par­tic­u­lar ini­tia­tive, and it’s up for de­bate whether or not even a stel­lar Game De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence for Steam Ma­chines can save them now, leav­ing the path clear for the likes of Razer to sneak in and har­ness stream­ing tech­nol­ogy rather than old­fash­ioned uber- power to com­pete for

the living room. While our ex­cite­ment for the Forge TV project has di­min­ished some­what know­ing that the key com­po­nent of the whole thing, Cor­tex: Stream, won’t ac­tu­ally be launch­ing along­side the hard­ware, with a sev­eral month wait the best case sce­nario, we re­main con­fi­dent that it has the power to be a mas­sive game changer for the in­dus­try, and for that rea­son we gen­uinely can’t wait to get our hands on the fin­ished prod­uct, Cor­tex: Stream and all. And for those of you who want to know whether to adopt early or wait, we’d def­i­nitely rec­om­mend hold­ing off… un­less you’re par­tial to An­gry Birds on the big screen!

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