By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
With video games and consoles topping many holiday wish lists, it's no surprise that accessories manufacturers scurried in the fourth quarter to bring their wares for accompaniment. Those who received new consoles as holiday gifts will also find many attachments in 2010 that can be used with their new devices.
Here are some of the recently introduced gaming accessories, along with some that will make their debut at International CES, to be held in Las Vegas Jan. 7-10.
Turtle Beach will use CES to show its latest gaming headsets for the Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation3, Wii, DS Lite systems and PCs.
For Xbox and Xbox 360 gaming, the company's Ear Force X41 wireless Dolby 7.1 surround sound headsets are designed for games that use Xbox Live Chat. The Ear Force X31, also wireless, provides stereo game audio with integrated chat. For budget-conscious gamers, the Ear Force XLC retro-style gaming headset integrates stereo game sound and online chat for an alternative to single-ear communicators.
For PS3 gaming, the Ear Force P21 stereo gaming headset has stereo game sound with “crystal-clear” communication via the PlayStation Network (PSN), Turtle Beach said.
The Ear Force Z1, designed for PC gaming, is billed as a moderately priced, high-quality stereo gaming headset.
Turtle Beach will also be showing its new USB sound card/headset adapter and USB digital audio adapter at CES.
The Amigo II USB sound card and headset adapter allows a passive headset to be used with a PC or game console via a USB connection. This model reportedly allows users to engage in online game chat and VoIP communication. It also allows Turtle Beach Ear Force X31 and X41 gaming headsets to be used with PS3 consoles.
The Micro II USB digital audio adapter adds premium digital sound to PCs, Macs and laptops, according to the company. With it, PCs, Macs and laptops can be connected to home-theater systems via the digital optical connection for the highest fidelity audio reproduction in stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1.
The stereo output of both the Amigo II and Micro II drives headphones or powered speakers and boosts the volume output from PCs and laptops. Both are designed for immediate plug-and-play use, requiring no drivers or power adapters.
SteelSeries recently introduced its Ikari Laser and QcK Mass Limited Edition Sudden Attack gaming gear. Designed specifically for the Asian online FPS game, Sudden Attack, the SteelSeries Ikari laser mouse comes in a camouflage print, and the QcK Mass mousepad features graphics from the game.
“Sudden Attack has an excellent reputation and is well known throughout Korea for its combination of fast and free game play. When we were approached by GameHi to design co-branded gear for their player community, we wanted to design and sell peripherals that would not only look the part but also offer technology that can be personalized and help improve the way users play the game,” said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO, in a statement.
The SteelSeries Ikari Laser ($79.99) features programmable macros for RTS and MMO gamers and a high-precision sensor with 40,000 samples per second (SPS), which is suitable for FPS gamers, the company said. The advanced SteelSeries XY2 laser engine supports resolution settings with increments of only 1 count per inch (CPI), giving gamers the ability to fine-tune the mouse for personal preferences.
The Ikari Laser uses such SteelSeries technology as FreeMove, which provides the option to choose when the mouse should kick in and correct a player's movement. This allows players to adjust how much control should be left up to the mouse and how much control should be left up to the player.
The QcK Mass Limited Edition Sudden Attack mousepad ($11.99) is made of a high-quality cloth material that features an in-game graphic. The specially designed non-slip rubber base prevents the pad from sliding, no matter what surface the mousepad is placed on, SteelSeries said.
Both products are currently available.
The Riiflex weights from PowerPlay are engineered to provide weight resistance to Wii workouts.
Two 2-pound Wii dumbbells are included, and the Wii Remote and Nunchuk fit securely inside the weight, the company said. The Riiflex weights are meant to be comparable in size to real 2-pound dumbbells. Suggested retail is $34.95. Availability was not given at press time.
Also on display at CES will be SplitFish AG's wireless Dual SFX Evolution controller, along with its Frag Pro and Frag FX Standard controllers.
The Dual SFX Evolution enables users to punch, wrist-flick and swing the controller to trigger favorite preprogrammed melee shots, kicks and checks. It also has a fast action-button layout and motion integration when users want it for driving, snowboarding or skateboarding.
“The fully featured controller gives all the best analog stick control, plus it offers up assignable dual independent wireless motion for SixAxis or analog stick emulation as well as 'wrist flick' button triggering,” the company said in a release.
The controller is designed for use with games including FIFA, Madden, H.A.W.X., Fight Night and Little Big Planet.
The Dual SFX Frag Pro functions as a fully featured wireless PS3 and PC gaming controller with programmable button configurations and adjustable mouse aiming. It is said to improve on the company's FragFX by adding a dual wireless rechargeable system and a new “Frag Control Center” to adjust button configurations and sensitivity and save individual game configurations. The ergonomic laser mouse provides PC-like accuracy and easy PS Home navigation, SplitFish said, while the left-hand grip provides full SixAxis motion control, customization functions and other special performance features.
DreamGear will use CES to annonce three licenses for its line of video game accessories.
The Sesame Street license will appear on video game accessories and portable technology accessories in conjunction with DreamGear's i.Sound brand. Products will include sculpted characters on ear buds and headphones, plus other video game and audio accessories taking the shape of Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street characters.
Products will be released in the first quarter of 2010, with pricing to be announced.
DreamGear is also partnering with NASCAR to launch co-branded racing wheels that are compatible with the PlayStation3 and Nintendo Wii. The racing wheels are designed to give the feel of lifelike racing as well as look like iconic NASCAR racecar wheels. They will be available in the first quarter of 2010, with pricing to be announced.
The third new license acquired by DreamGear is 24 Hour Fitness. The company is introducing 24 Hour Fitness-branded Workout Kits for the Nintendo Wii Fit, with a collection of accessories and kits — including rechargeable batteries, fitness mats, travel bags, textured socks, protective sleeves, and other items.
With the purchase of a DreamGear 24 Hour Fitness Workout Kit, consumers receive a free 30-day membership to any 24 Hour Fitness club location. The products will ship in the first quarter, and pricing will be available at the show.
CTA Digital recently introduced a peripheral designed to turn a Wii Remote into a hockey stick. The Wi-HKY features a stick with an extendable design, so both children and adults can use it.
There is a compartment in the grip of the stick that stores the Wii Remote (with or without Wii MotionPlus), and puck-handling motions can be mimicked.
The pack includes one extendable hockey stick top and one attachable base handle. It is compatible with NHL 2K9, NHL 2K10 and any other Wii hockey game that requires a Wii Remote. Suggested retail is $14.99.
Along with the Wi-HKY, CTA Digital will show other new Wii accessories at CES, including the Wi-SRG Sniper Rifle Gun for use with the Wii Remote Nunchuk. The Sniper Rifle Gun is designed to provide users with realistic and accurate shooting when playing most Wii hunting and shooting games.
It has a removable stock, scope, bipod and barrel for use in four different modes, along with a trigger for operating the Wii Remote. Suggested retail is $39.99.
CTA Digital will also show its Wi-7EK Super Fitness Pack, Wi-8SR Sports Pack 8-in-1, and Wi-WDUM dumbbells with adjustable weights.
Sakar will use CES to introduce licensed Electronic Arts (EA) Wii and DS accessories. The line will include gaming controls, skins, styluses and other items designed to resemble baseball bats, tennis rackets and the subjects of other EA games. Football-related Nintendo cases, earphones and skins, for example, will mimic the leather look and feel of their namesake ball, the company said. Pricing and shipping dates were not available.
Penguin United will launch at CES its Crossfire Remote Pistol for the Nintendo Wii, which the company is billing as the first and only available gun for the Wii that has the remote already built into the gun's design.
The A-button has been repositioned for better thumb access while a user holds the pistol, Penguin United said, with the B-button also repositioned for easier trigger-finger access. The D-pad has also been realigned to allow for immediate thumb access.
The remote, which features enhanced vibration function, conforms to both left- and right-handed gamers and also has built-in speakers for an improved audio experience.
“The Crossfire takes shooting games to a new level,” said Richard Huang, president of Penguin, in a release. “By integrating the remote into the design, as well as repositioning the buttons, we've created a much more realistic experience..”
The Crossfire ($39.99) works with Wii shooting games House of the Dead, Conduit, the Resident Evil series, and others. It also works as a regular Wii remote for use with other, non-shooting games.
Finally, RealView Innovations is jumping on the 3D bandwagon with its V-Screen gaming screen technology. The V-Screen is an optical technology created specifically for the Sony PlayStation Portable. It's said to enable a two-dimensional screen to give something akin to a 3D experience by adding clarity, brightness and depth, and it will reportedly enhance any content being played on the PSP, including videos and movies.
The V-Screen ($39.99), which physically attaches to the PSP as a flip-up screen, is compatible with the PSP 1000, 2000, 3000 and Slim. It's scheduled to ship this month. A protective shell to guard the gaming device is also included.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.