There’s no denying that the games take the spotlight at E3. Every year, the big three and their major studio partners compete to make the biggest splash with new titles for the latest consoles. This year was no different, as hundreds of new game titles took up the bulk of the conference conversations, making mere asides of the tech that will rise up to support the shiny new software when it finally comes out. But we’ve still got love for the hardware, and while E3 2014 wasn’t the busiest in terms of hard news about the tactile yin to the giant gaming yang, there were nonetheless some headline-worthy announcements made across the board.
For the casual gamer, the hardcore gamer, the streaming media addict searching for an alternative to Apple TV or the rainy-day couch potato: one console to rule them all, and in the darkness find them a lot of fun on their flatscreens. For something called a microconsole, it packs a mighty punch—the $99 gaming unit (and a subscription to PlayStation Now, available in the U.S. and Canada on July 31) will allow gamers to stream Sony’s vast catalogue of pre-PS4 titles alongside a solid library of television shows and films. Even better, if you have a PS4 in the house you can stream the latest new titles from the console to whichever screen the PSTV is hooked up to, giving you the opportunity to take gaming out of the basement if the mood strikes. Sounds like a dream, right? It kind of is for now; PlayStation TV doesn’t ship until New Year’s Eve, but you can get your preorder in here.
Much has already been made of the excellent Oculus Rift, the first device in a long while to drum up real excitement in the realm of virtual reality gaming. Owing largely to the fact that it’s been making the rounds at conventions for a few years, Oculus Rift—available only to developers, as yet—seems to own the conversation surrounding the experiential front of gaming. But Sony is carving out its own space in the game: announced at GDC in March, PlayStation’s Project Morpheus caused a ruckus at E3 with a swath of demo stations that had players using PlayStation Move controllers and straight-up motion to guide the action on-screen, besting the Oculus Rift’s handheld controller–bound gameplay. While Oculus has a wider range of titles available, the heat from Sony is clearly on and the VR war has just begun. Here’s hoping for Space Race–esque advances in the years to come. CNET got the scoop on all things Project Morpheus; check out their video from E3 now.
Alienware used E3 2014 to launch the Alpha, a powerful gaming PC that takes desktop gaming into the comfort of your living room, picking up where Valve’s shelved Steam Box left off. Boasting a custom user interface that connects gamers directly to their Steam accounts on top of supporting regular PC gaming, the Alienware Alpha seems set to aid PC gamers and developers in expanding their gaming world. Even if a $550 price point tacks it a shade pricier than other premier consoles, the Alpha introduces a new competitor for market share in the ongoing next-gen console war.
From the living room to the sidewalk, the SteamBoy Project gives Steam a mobile console to rival the PS Vita and Nintendo DS in a big way. Details are still hush-hush and nothing about the device appears final, but the possibilities are endless given Valve and Steam’s 2000-title strong library of blockbuster and indie titles. Design-wise, the SteamBoy looks like a slick update of the Wii U controller we actually want to hold. The development team has a lot to prove with the device, but a 2014 E3 outing ahead of a 2015 release date smells like confidence to us. We’ll wait and see.
Finally, a candidate with the cojones to undo Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market. Gentlemen, the incredibly stylish and spec-for-spec superior Samsung Galaxy Tab S. Entering the marketplace with two sizes (8.4-inch and 10.5-inch) and at the same price points as comparable iPad models, Samsung is out for blood. With übervibrant Super AMOLED screens that Samsung claims shows up to 94 percent of nature’s true color palette, multiwindow interface and tight dimensions—6.6 millimeters thin and a mere 465 grams—the Galaxy Tab S is attractive enough to cause our eye to wander. Our favorite part: Samsung smartphone users can skip juggling devices with SideSync 3.0—not a new program, but one with a nice bag of tricks, including the ability to display and control your phone screen, transfer data and make phone calls like a charm. For the man on the move, it’s a winner.
Top photo: "Hero E3 Showroom" © 2014 PlayStation Europe, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)