The show before the show
The biggest games event of the year hasn't even kicked off yet and we're already awash in a flood of gaming hardware announcements revealed in the days ahead of E3. Maybe the idea is to let the games themselves shine at the show, or maybe hardware makers are simply trying to get ahead of the E3 hype train, but either way, it's clear that software alone won't be stealing the spotlight this year. Here's a rundown of all the cool gear that made an appearance over the past week.
$400 Kinect-less Xbox One
Microsoft achieved what it said was impossible by unbundling the Kinect from the Xbox One, and in doing so it shaved $100 off the consoles price and unlocked 10 percent more graphical horsepower for developers. The $400 Kinect-less Xbox One showed up in Microsoft's online store this morning, mere hours ahead of the company's E3 keynote. A $500 version of the Xbox One that includes the Kinect is still available, as well.
Kinect for Windows v2 opens for preorders
All this Kinect talk isn't limited to console land. Last Friday, Microsoft announced that it's now accepting pre-orders for the $200 Kinect for Windows v2, which is essentially the Xbox One Kinect repackaged for use with PCs. It's more targeted towards developers than everyday gamers though. The Microsoft Store says the next-gen Kinect will start shipping on July 15.
SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker
The Kinect ain't the only news-worthy sensor making PC gaming waves, though. On Monday, SteelSeries announced the Sentry Eye Tracker, a slender bar that sits underneath your monitor and uses Tobii's infrared eye-tracking technology to monitor your retinas, ostensibly to create a heat map showing where your gaze falls during gameplay.
What's the point? It's being pitched as an e-Sports training tool. Both companies hope gamers will use it in much the same way that NFL teams uses game film, trying to break down their strengths and where each individual player may improve. A future update will let you control your PC's on-screen mouse cursor with your gaze alone.
Gigabyte's Aorus X3
Gigabyte's Aorus X3 was unveiled at Computex last week and draws inspiration from Razer's gorgeous second-gen Razer Blade: This gaming laptop is thin-and-light (for a gaming laptop) at 0.9 inches and 4.12 lbs., respectively, and it boasts a pixel-packed 3200-by-1800 "3K' display. The Aorus X3 is stuffed with all the high-end gaming hardware you'd expect—hello, Nvidia 870M!—and packs a premium feel. Read all about it in our Gigabyte Aorus X3 hands-on.
Asus gaming gear and Steam Machine
Asus announced several pieces of Republic of Gamers-branded gaming gear last week, including a 4K gaming laptop of its own, the ROG G20 small form factor gaming desktop, a 2560-by-1440 display with support for Nvidia's G-Sync technology, and a new graphics card and motherboard.
Most intriguing, though, is the appallingly named ROG GR8 console: An itty-bitty PC console that will one day become a true Steam Machine, though it'll ship with Windows 8.1 initially (no doubt due to Valve's Steam Controller delay). It'll have a Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti, and support for both Miracast wireless display technology and the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Read all about the Asus gaming gear here.
Xbox One controllers for Windows PCs
And finally, in what may be the most appealing bit of gaming hardware news for yours truly, Microsoft has at long last made good on its promise to deliver drivers that let you use Xbox One controllers with Windows PCs. Beyond the drivers, all you need to hook your controller up to your gaming rig is a standard Micro-USB cable.
The process is pretty straightforward, but there are some hiccups and caveats you should know about. You'll want to check out Jared Newman's guide to getting your Xbox One controller working with your PC .
But wait, there's more!
And now for the truly exciting part: E3 itself hasn't even started yet. From Steam Machines to VR headsets, we're expecting more PC gaming gear than usual to be at this year's show. We're on the ground in L.A; tune in to PCWorld and TechHive all this week for all the E3 gaming news you need to know.
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