- Includes 15.5in screen
- Decent carry case
- Twin headphone ports
- Very large footprint when opened
- No disc storage
- Very limited viewing angle
- Review Price: £299.00
- Tough plastic carry case
- Built-in 15.5in screen
- Fits Xbox 360, Xbox 360S, PS3 Slim
- Pockets for controllers and power cables built in.
- twin headphone ports
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.
The amount of kit the case can hold really is quite impressive. We managed to get two of the Xbox 360’s notoriously huge controllers in one of the two pockets, along with the Xbox 360’s also large power lead/converter box and the screen’s power cable in the other pocket. We could actually fit three PS3 controllers in one pocket, and the Slim’s smaller power cable presented no problem at all.
The only thing missing from the case’s storage potential is anywhere to put any game discs. This is a pity – especially as GAEMS is at pains to stress that you should never leave a disc in your console when in transit. Presumably GAEMS couldn’t see anywhere to put any disc storage safely, though we did wonder if three or four slide-in disc pouches could perhaps have been included on the bottom of the case, under the foam console pad.
One other point to reiterate here that also makes the G155 a ‘destination’ rather than an in transit gaming proposition is the lack of a battery option. Both the screen and console need mains power.
Impressively, the screen part of the G155 uses LED rather than CCFL LCD technology, which raises hopes of an advanced contrast performance. However, there’s a disappointment on the G155’s spec sheet too, namely that its resolution isn’t a full HD 1,920×1,080 pixels. However, before anyone gets too upset about this, it’s worth remembering that the majority of PS3 and Xbox 360 games tend to run at 720 resolutions natively, and it is only a 15in screen.
The shift in resolution from the 1,080 video output settings we usually use did lead to a rather worrying delay as the screen ‘shook hands’ with our Xbox 360 console. For a good few seconds we were starting to think that either our console or the screen wasn’t working. But thankfully the familiar 360 ‘swish’ eventually popped into view and we were in business.
Our game of the moment right now is Dark Souls – which is handy, actually, as it could have been tailor made to test the strengths and weaknesses of an LCD TV. And right away we spotted a bit of a problem. Namely that the screen’s viewing angle is extremely limited.
Limited viewing angles are common to all LCD TVs to some extent, of course, but they’re so troublesome with the G155 that even moving your head a couple of inches from the ‘perfect’ position directly opposite the screen causes parts of the picture to lose contrast and/or brightness quite dramatically. For instance, the bottom edge will look greyer than the rest, or one corner will look greyer than the others, or another corner will go so dark you can’t really see what’s going on.
This problem is only seriously noticeable during dark scenes, to be fair, but then if there’s one thing a lot of our favourite games have in common, it’s a preponderance of darkness!
While this viewing angle issue is a bit irritating in single-player mode, it becomes really damaging if two of you are playing a game together, as you’ll both be playing from a slight angle to the screen, and so both be suffering with potentially quite drastic reductions in brightness and contrast.
Another problem that routinely troubled us during our tests was the screen’s high level of reflectivity. We could clearly see ourselves reflected in the screen in even relatively restrained lighting conditions, and any direct light sources became very disruptive indeed.
With our head locked in the premium position and ambient light levels subdued, though, the G155’s screen delivers some likeable traits. Its biggest strength is its response time; there’s startlingly little evidence of the sort of blurring or smearing you often get with LCD screens when panning quickly around gaming environments.
This allows the HD feeds from our PS3 and Xbox 360S consoles to look very crisp, very detailed, and definitively HD – especially as the screen manages to be eye-catchingly bright for such a small affair.
Colours look nice too for the most part, with subtle blending and believable tones. Well, as believable as video game tones can ever look, at least.
A critical screen issue for gamers is input lag. And here, too, the screen in the G155 is exemplary, measuring under 8ms of input lag during our tests. That shouldn’t have any negative effect on your gaming skills whatsoever.
There is a residual problem that consistently troubled us while attempting to tackle the terrifyingly difficult Dark Souls, though. And that’s the screen’s rather disappointing black level response. For while the screen scores decently highly when it comes to showing details in dark areas of the picture – notwithstanding the ‘black outs’ that can occur if you’re not watching from the perfect angle – parts of the picture that should look black or at least very dark instead look rather grey and misty. We’d hoped the screen’s use of LED lighting might have delivered quite rich black levels, but this hasn’t come to pass.
The G155’s sound quality is surprisingly satisfying considering how skinny the screen and stereo speaker array have to be to fit into the case’s lid. There’s quite an open sound to the soundstage that mostly avoids the distortions and harshness of typical small-screen flat TVs, giving game soundtracks a sense of audio space beyond the boundaries of the screen and case. Inevitably there’s not much going on in the bass department, but still there’s enough volume and clarity around to engage you.
While we love the G155’s concept, the reality of the product is a little less convincing. The problem is ironically the very thing that attracted us to it in the first place: its built in screen. For while this screen is bright, colourful and sharp with minimal input lag, it’s also very reflective of ambient light, rather low on contrast and has a really tiny viewing angle ‘sweetspot’.
We can still see a market for the G155 – especially if you predominantly play bright, colourful games like, say, GT5 or Forza. Otherwise, though, you might consider your needs better if less conveniently served by getting a more basic carry case for your console and spending £250 or so on a superior screen – like, perhaps, Sony’s recently reviewed 22in 22EX320 – that you can either leave in situ at your destination if that’s appropriate or else just cart around in its box without it taking up a great deal more space than the G155 does. Or, of course, you can just accept the compromise and buy a proper portable gaming console.
Score in detail
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