Portable gaming is often about compromise. Do you want a large screen, great graphics, long battery life, proper gaming controls, a large selection of 'proper' games or a small and light device? For the most part at least a couple of these criteria have to fail to account for the others. Smartphones certainly have portability and battery life but their screen sizes are limited, the selection of proper games is mediocre and only the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play offers proper controls. Meanwhile the DS has a decent game selection, portability and battery life, and good game controls but has small screens and poor graphics. And while the PSP offers a better screen and graphics experience than the DS, it's still inherently limited when it comes to visual oomph.
Today, then, we're looking at a device that unceremoniously does away with being small and light or having a battery and instead goes for all out power. It's called the GAEMS G155 and, we've been leading you along, it isn't really a games platform at all, it's a ‘Mobile Gaming Environment’ designed to make HD console gaming portable.
The G155’s proposition is this. First, it provides a rugged, hard plastic carry case (emblazoned with a geekily attractive big red ‘G’ logo on its top edge) containing a two-sided foam ‘tray’ specially designed to snugly fit around the bottom edges of Xbox 360, Xbox 360S and PS3 Slim consoles.
There are simple adjustable straps for securing your console in place during transit, and two decently large ‘pockets’ to either side of the console’s space into which you can slip stuff like joysticks, headphones and power cords.
Where the G155 differs radically from other console cases, though, is in the way it builds a 15.5in LED-lit LCD screen into its lid, complete with stereo speakers and twin headphone jacks so that two different users can listen in on a game’s sound simultaneously without having to use the speakers if there are other nearby people to consider. Is it a stroke of genius or an intriguing but fundamentally flawed idea?
Well, things don't get of to the best of starts as it was a little alarming to find that the glossy black ‘frame’ around the screen had become unstuck and had slipped off in transit. But the flexible bezel cover went back on easily enough, and didn’t come off again during the duration of our testing period.
The system ships with a short HDMI cable for attaching the console to a front-mounted HDMI port on the screen, as well as a power cable which again slots into the screen’s front. If you’ve got an older Xbox that uses a component video output, you should note that no component input is provided. You’ll have to stump up extra for an optional adaptor.
If you happen to own one of the original PS3s, you’ve also got a bit of a problem. In fact, you’re completely out of luck, for the G155 only supports PS3 Slims. Which isn’t a great surprise, really, considering what an enormous brick of a thing the original PS3 was/is.
This isn’t meant to imply, though, that the G155 isn’t itself a fair old chunk of real estate. In fact it measures more than 20in across and 13in deep when it’s closed, and this extends to nearly 20in deep and 15in high with the lid open in ‘play’ mode.
These sort of open dimensions mean it’s fair to say that this is not really a unit most people will be able to contemplate using in transit on a train or plane. We guess it would just about fit on a table in a typical train carriage, but we sure as heck wouldn’t like to be sat in the opposite seat - especially if we wanted even a couple of inches of our own table space.
To be fair to GAEMS, though, it doesn’t particularly position the G155 as a ‘portable’ console gaming solution. Instead it stresses its ‘mobility’, the distinction being that you can safely and easily take it between, and instantly and conveniently use it in, different ‘end destination’ locations rather than using it in transit. Students, the forces, and households where kids and parents routinely squabble over who gets to use the TV are all cited as target audiences for the G155.
It also emerges from correspondence with GAEMS that the system is widely used by people who buy it as a simple ‘tidy’ system; a way of keeping a console and all its assorted paraphernalia stored away when not in use.