6 Mar 2012

ROCCAT aim to bring together your smartphone and PC for gaming.

ROCCAT, manufacturers of various peripherals for the PC have released pictures of what is to be their upcoming Powergrid range. Normally a list of upcoming keyboards and mice doesn’t interest me unless it’s the game tie-in sets from Razer or the infamous Art. Lebedev keyboard, but this has really hooked me in.

Firstly we have the ROCCAT Phobo gaming keyboard, you’ll notice something straight away that’s different form your standard gaming keyboard…there’s no numpad, instead there’s a great big hole. This hole is infact the key to what differentiates this from your average keyboard. It’s a smartphone dock and for once it’s not just for your shiny apple products, Android and Windows Phone users will get to play as well with the connection being either the standard apple affair or a micro USB or if the dock doesn't work for you then there's always bluetooth.

This combining of your phone and keyboard allows for some pretty cool stuff, all powered through the powergrid app on your PC and on your phone, more about the app in a second. For those who don’t want a new keyboard or would potentially need a numpad there’s ROCCAT’s second offering, the Apuri Dock 2.0, from what I can gather this seems to let you connect your Phone to your PC in much the same way as the keyboard dock.

Whilst the keyboard and dock are pretty nice the main draw here is the app, the idea is that you have a number of tabs to show you plenty of info and allow control over the PC and game, if you also need to use your phone there’s no need to undock it, you can use the keyboard to write out any texts you need to send and receive calls with your gaming headset, all this whilst keeping the gadget charged. The app seems to have as standard four separate pages or tabs, but this could possibly be increased by having a few different custom docks. 
The first is an ‘incoming center’ and houses your social messages and any alerts you set-up such as your CPU maxing out, this also allows you reply directly using the keyboard.
The second is a ‘system stats’ tab which will give you your CPU usage, RAM usage, internet stats and HDD info. Fairly self explanatory.
The third gives you ‘Sound Control’ and as the name suggests allows you to easily control the levels of your sound, particularly the microphone, master and music volumes as well as giving you a music control system with display for the currently playing song.
The last tab is the most interesting; it’s a custom one which allows you to build up blocks into usable buttons to achieve pretty much anything you want. This is obviously very similar to current macro keys on various gaming keyboard, but I think the draw here lies in being a more user friendly layout and also that you can map an image or text to a button meaning you don’t have to remember what each one does, this reminds me very much of the Optimus keyboard, but way cheaper. As you can see from the example image your custom buttons could include game specific macros, setting an alarm for your pizza being ready or giving you a heads up on the current ram use.
The system reminds me a lot of how you set widgets on an android homescreen, so building yourself a page should be fairly straight forward.

The Powergrid app system is to enter Beta very soon but you can only sign up if you’ve lined Mr. Jobs’ pockets. For those of us dedicated to the Android or Windows Phones we have to wait for it to be fully released which could be anytime between now and the latter part of the year, the best part of all this is that the app and PC companion are FREE!!! The keyboard and dock are expected in Q4 2012. No word on price yet for them, but if that dock holds my Galaxy SII properly then I’ll be seriously looking into buying it as despite the obvious gaming and control implications it’s the first time I’ve seen a proper PC dock for my phone that isn’t a flimsy, over expensive, glorified charger.

[Source: PCG]


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