Welcome to Pixels & Bits, where the staff at GamingNexus will take a weekly look at the impact of audio and video products (as well as related gear) that enhances the gaming experience. In this serialized article, we will discuss audio and video products, accessories and opinions on how these work within the confines of the gaming experience. In this week’s article, we will take the first of a two-part look at “Gaming on the Go – Portable A/V”, which will touch on audio or video hardware you can take with you while traveling, no matter the distance. This week in Part 1, we will go over some portable video options that can enhance your gaming experience while you are away from home.
A few weeks ago, we took the Pixels & Bits article on vacation, with a two-part series about what to pack and how to setup when you get your destination while Gaming on the Go. During that two-piece article (Pt 1
, Pt 2
), I alluded to possibly packing some portable A/V gear to take on the trip. As a result, we will revisit the Gaming on the Go topic over the next two weeks, but expand on the options you may have for portable A/V you while traveling. This week I will look into portable video gear that might make sense to take on any type of road trip, whether it is vacation, a weekend trip to Grandma’s house or heading to a friend’s house for an afternoon of gaming. After researching the topic a bit, I was able to determine that most portable video falls into one of the four categories below.
Small Flat-Panel – The most obvious portable video solution is to just take a small (24” or smaller) flat panel on the road with you. The great thing about this type of portable video is that it will ensure that you have the necessary hookups to get the best picture possible as well as built in speakers for audio.
The image above is of the Samsung UN22D5003
, which is a 22” 1080p LED television currently selling at Best Buy for $250
. While this model may be slight overkill, you can still pick up a 19” HD TV from any number of companies that retail between $150 and $200 and will travel with you and take care of your video needs. The one disadvantage going with a small flat panel is that it is kind of bulky to pack. Regardless, this will give you the most consistent video option while on the road.
Mobile Game Systems
– Since the current generation of consoles have hit, we have seen several companies produce small traveling screens to be a compliment to your console. These all-inclusive systems allow you to put everything in one container and hit the road. One company
that has taken it to the next level is GAEMS
, which is an acronym for Gaming and Entertainment Mobile Systems. These folks have been working directly with publishers and console makers (like Microsoft) to create a mobile entertainment environment for when you hit the road.
Their current product is the G155
(pictured above) that works with either the slim Xbox 360 or PS3 and retails for ~$250
. In addition to the form-fitting case, it contains a 15” 720p LED, stereo speakers and storage for controllers or other accessories. It also comes in an officially licensed Mass Effect 3 version, which retails for ~$260. At E3 earlier this year, they teased a couple of new projects on the horizon, including the Sentry and the very secretive Project Vanguard
. Although I wasn’t able to locate any other companies besides GAEMS that are currently producing this type of product, I am sure they exist and will continue to pop up.
– One of the easiest ways to take your video signal with you is to pack a portable projector. We have had the opportunity to look at several styles over the years including the entire Optoma Game Time projector lineup (GT720
) with their awesome carrying backpacks as well as some PICO style projectors. The one thing they all have in common is that they are portable and can give you an instant picture wherever you set it up.
In the image above, we see the QUMI
pocket projector from Vivitek
, which is one of the PICO style projectors. Having spent some time with this one
, I know they usually come in around $300-$400 and are the easiest to transport and hook up onsite as long as you have the appropriate cables. Sometimes space is extremely important, so going with a portable projector can be the best way to pack smart without sacrificing quality.
– The last type of portable video is called “Entertainment” Projectors and branded to companies like the Sharper Image or HoMedics. Yes, the quotations are there for a reason, because this group of projectors are usually found at deep discount stores, Sky Mall or sitting in or near the toy section of your local big box retailer with a price of $150 or less. These are actually targeted at younger kids or people looking for an ultra-cheap “projector” experience. Unfortunately, they are so fundamentally flawed that I personally would never invest in one, as the bang for your buck just simply isn’t there. However, if you happen to get your hands on one via a present or other means, it does offer a limited mobile projection experience that could be useful on the road.
Limited though is the key word, as the lumens (brightness of the lamp) are low (usually 50 or less, the case is cheap plastic, the bulbs don’t last long and the input (usually only one) is almost always a basic analog connection. In the image above, we have Discovery Expedition Wonderwall Entertainment Projector
that is sold through Amazon for $99
. Although you can probably tell I am not fond of these, they do have some inherit value in that you can pick them up very cheaply and they will project an image on a wall in a darkened room. Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies, as you often need perfect conditions just to get a not very bright image. Lack of lumens will do that to you, but is also why they usually cost $79-$100.
Although the vast majority of portable video for gaming can be broken down into the four categories mentioned, there are still plenty of other options to choose from. While it is hard to say what is the best option for any single individual, it ultimately boils down to what best fits within your budget and what makes the most sense for the type of gaming on the go you will be doing.
About the Author:
Dan Keener has been on staff at GamingNexus since 2006 and specializes in Audio & Video gear as well as gaming accessories and has over 15 years of Home Theater consulting and sales experience. If you have a question or comment for Dan or about the article, please leave it below.