Week in Tech: MMOuse, Shield, Superwide Is Super Cool

By Jeremy Laird on August 7th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Not being hugely of the MMO persuasion, the extent to which fixed-configuration mice generate significant anguish is, to coin a Tuckerism, beyond my jaunty-bonneted purview. However, the fellows at ROCCAT are apparently feeling someone’s pain and the result is the new Nyth, a modular mouse for MMOists that comes complete with 3D-printing intrigue. Rejoice. Meanwhile, I’ve had a little face time with both the Nvidia Shield tablet and one of those 34-inch superwide LCDs. GOP-style gut reaction to each after the jump (see, cultural references to make people happy both sides of the pond).

I may be ignorant of the apparent ‘wealth’ of MMO-optimised mice on the market, but it’s easy enough to appreciate the need for something a bit specialised that offers a battery of buttons to quickjump through the mindfart that is MMO menus.

To date, that’s been achieved by means of whatever button arrangement a given mouse maker reckons optimal. But a single mouse that suits every MMO and indeed every MMOist is a tall order. ROCCAT’s solution with the Nyth is to let you decide.

I’m not entirely clear on just how much configurability is on offer. At the very least, a panel of buttons on the side of the Nyth can be re-arranged.

Buttons, buttons, buttons. Plus more buttons. And additional buttonality

Intriguingly, ROCCAT says it will provide access to the digital inventory files for the buttons, giving a reference point for 3D printing fans to create their own bits.

Also, along with the button-array modularity, the whole side-part of the Nyth is interchangeable for tweakable ergonomics. For the record, there’s no word on broader specs like the DPI / resolution of the main sensor.

A ROCCAT Nyth, yesterday. Hang on, I’ve done that gag before…

Of course, this configurability should also make the Nyth flexible enough to turn its hand to all kinds of gaming along with broader computing duties. Could be interesting when it arrives later this year. It’ll be on show at Gamescom later in August. Sadly no word whatsoever on pricing.

Next up, that Shield Tablet thing from Nvidia. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I’m hoping to have more extensive face time with the thing in the near future. But an early look at the thing puts Shield the Second toward the upper end of my expectations.

Physically, it’s a jolly nice thing indeed. Not absolutely the most pleasingly tactile tablet ever concieved, but certainly a high-quality item in the hand and miles ahead of the plasticky tat from, say, Samsung, that masquerades as high-end hardware.

Still waiting to see what HL2 on Android is like…

The screen is good if not absolutely spectacular and Nvidia’s promises for the battery life are impressive if unproven. Oh and it runs absolutely vanilla Android and comes with assurances of regular and timely updates. Important stuff, I reckon.

The only downside to the conventional tablet aspect is a smidge more chassis thickness that I deem ideal. But only a smidge.

Conclusion thus far: Shield the Second nails the first part of the package. As a plain Android tablet, it’s good enough that you’d be happy with it as an alternative to a Nexus 7 (rumour has it the Nexus 8 will actually be based on the same Nvidia Tegra chip and the Shield, which could be interesting and begs the question of whether Nvidia will unlock all the game streaming funtionality on the Nexus device…).

Next up is the game streaming shizzle. Here, much is as before. If you’ve got a very strong wireless connection and a good router, the image quality is great and the latency really very impressive. Things do drop off pretty rapidly in terms of IQ if the signal isn’t pretty much perfect, however.

Shield the Second seems like a genuine proposition as a generic Android tablet

Like I said, I want to go into this stuff in more detail in a separate post. But the streaming functionality remains all kinds of interesting.

Finally, there’s the native / on-device gaming. On this I can’t really comment. I saw Trine 2 running and looking very pretty. But the Valve gubbins (Half-Life 2 etc) wasn’t installed, which was a pity. I remain highly suspect in general of the notion of propping up a tablet and playing games with a wireless controller.

But it’s early days for the tablet as a pukka gaming form factor, so maybe a usage model will emerge. I’ve been wondering about a clip-in keyboard and plug-in mouse, but time will tell.

Finally, superwide LCDs. The 21:9 aspect isn’t new. We’ve seen 21:9 29-inch panels with 2,560 by 1,080 pixel grids. They were fun but felt very constrained outside of gaming. But now I’ve played with one of the new generation of 34-inch 21:9 panels which up the ante to 3,440 by 1,440 pixels.

And there’s really only one word for the result. Want. Very badly indeed. In-game, you don’t really look at the outer edges of screen all that much. The subjective impact of all that peripheral imaging is truly spectacular. It’s just wonderfully immersive.

Move back to a 16:9 or 16:10 screen and suddenly you feel boxed in, like you’ve viewing the world through a small window. Which of course you are.

Not nearly as silly as it looks…

The increased res also makes for a much better all round desktop experience, too, without going all the way to the GPU-melting pixel count of 4K. If I have a criticism it’s actually that this new form factor makes we want something similar on an even grander scale. 21:9 at 40 inches, er me gerd.

There are negatives in terms of video format compatibility (and game compatibility, to boot). But for now colour me very much in the pro 21:9 camp. At least if we’re talking 34 inches and beyond. FYI, prices for these new 34 inch panels kick off around £500 / $800 for that AOC model I mentioned in posts passim. So, that’s hefty but not horrendous if you view – as you ought – a monitor as a long-term investment.

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37 Comments »

  1. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    So what’s that Tucker, then?

    Anyway, as long as game configuration is the pain that it is within the windows environment, I can’t think how this new aspect ratio shouldn’t be a pain to work/play with, especially if you actually do want to do both.

  2. zind says:

    My biggest beef with 16:9 for gaming is that it feels too skinny compared to 16:10. I don’t know why I would go to 21:9, which is even more skinny, relatively. Give me 21:11 or something odd like that!

    • bp_968 says:

      Normally I’d agree with you that 16:9 is terrible and we got screwed out of 16:10 years ago, but it’s not near as bad as it used to be. 16:9 is terrible at 1920×1080 thanks to the low vertical resolution, but that’s not the case with 2560×1440 (and larger) monitors. It’s still the same skinny ratio but the higher resolution makes up for the vertical deficit compared to 16:10. It’s not really the ratio that most people find annoying, it’s the missing pixels. The only 16:9 monitor I own is a 2560×1440 and I was quite concerned initially but quickly decided it wasn’t near the compromise that 1920×1080 is. Would 2560×1600 be better? Sure, absolutely, but it’s no comparison to the atrocity that was the change from 1920×1200 to 1920×1080 (or even worse, that useless laptop resolution known as 1366×768). In fact the real loss with the move to 16:9 happened in the laptop world. I bought a 1920×1200 gaming laptop and when it died I discovered that the industry had purged itself of 16:10 laptop panels, it was 16:9 or nothing and usually it was a terrible low res like 1366.

  3. eggy toast says:

    Im sure its nice to have stuff off in your peripheral vision but Im not at all convinced a screen that wide will ever gain the critical mass to be widespread and therefore worth having.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    So the question for me is, 21:9 or three times 1080p? Is the peripheral vision effect comparable to the wrap-around you can get with an NVidia Surround or EyeFinity setup?

    • Gargenville says:

      I run triple 1080 Surround and would advise anyone to stay the hell away now that >1080p displays are actually available to normal human beings. You’re pushing even more pixels than 4K so the performance impact is enormous. It’s pretty useless on the desktop because the outer edges are miles away (this depends on display size but on my 24s I typically don’t do much of any value past the inner halves of the outer screens). Game and driver support remains wonky as ever (I’ve also got a TV connected and to use it I have to drop out of Surround which would be fine but there’s no way to save things like bezel offsets) and even when it does work the outer edges are usually very badly distorted.

      Seriously there are some benefits like economy of scale means you can get some pretty decent 1080p screens at a decent price and I can always (and usually do) just run them as three separate displays but I’d never do it again, cool as my desk full of Ultrasharps may look.

  5. waltC says:

    I’m getting a ~4k capable 28″, most likely. Those are coming fast & furious and starting off @$500-$600. Never been a better time than in the next year or two to buy a dream-resolution monitor, imo.

    The mouse…what was all that about…?…;) Lots of publicity about *something*–but what? I’ve never seen a “future-ready” device (or “future-proof,” either.) 3d printing…? (buzzword.) No actual information–very strange. No actual product to talk about.

    nVidia Shield? Ugh.

    One out of three ain’t bad, though….:D

  6. Foosnark says:

    I’m trying to imagine a non-gaming scenario where I’d want one 21:9 screen as opposed to two 16:10 screens.

    Web browsing? No. (16:10 is already kind of too wide for a lot of sites. I tend not to maximize my browser most of the time.)
    Watching movies? No.
    Software development… maybe. I could keep more side panels up I suppose while still having a wide view of my code.
    Music production? It’d be nice to see that much more of my timeline I guess, but then I’d still want a 16:10 monitor on the side for incidental stuff. But my desk is already super wide, with audio monitors on either side of the video monitors. Wider video = even wider speaker placement = wider desk = I need a bigger room.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      You clearly ain’t seen movies on a 21:9 panel. Lots of feature films are in that form and they look bloody marvellous.

      • Gargenville says:

        It just seems like a really weird specific use item when any newish TV that isn’t complete garbage will just kill the backlight on the letterbox borders and leave you with a viewing area that’s still way bigger than what you’d get in an oddly-shaped PC monitor of a comparable price. Granted it makes a bit more sense for gaming where you’d actually get something out of the higher resolution but then you just run into surround gaming nothing-supports-my-weird-resolution hell.

    • pifflepyramid says:

      I have a 56 inch philips 21:9 TV connected to my pc and it is absolutely awesome for games and films and everything really. I got it for £1000 a couple of years ago, reduced from £4000. Best money i ever spent. Its getting a bit long in the tooth now specswise compared to new tv’s but no one makes 21:9 tv’s anymore so i’m going to cling on to it for as long as possible. I can’t bear the thought of going back to boring old 16:9

    • DodgyG33za says:

      I concur. I went from a 1920×1200 to 1920×1080 laptop and really miss those bottom pixels.

      Wide might be great for films and first person games, but is lousy for anything else, and it is that anything else I spend most of my time doing. My desktop rig has a 27 inch and a 24 in portrait. The former is great for games and media, and the latter is great for coding and web sites.

      • HidingCat says:

        A sufficiently large 21:9 screen will do exactly what your two screens will do, minus the annoying bezel. I don’t get the hate for 21:9 screens.

        • Foosnark says:

          Surely it would take a 32:9 screen to do what two 16:9 screens can do without the bezel?

          Also a bit of curve would be useful, since I tend to angle my two monitors in a little.

    • phuzz says:

      I’m not sure how useful this is, but on Win 7 and up, if you hold down the windows key and press the left or right arrows on your keyboard, the the current application will move and fill the left or right side of the screen respectively, (up and down max- or minimise it).
      Very handy if you want two file browsers open, but I can imagine it would be very useful with a super wide screen.

  7. pepperfez says:

    Study after study has found MMOist to be the most hated English word.

  8. Horg says:

    I don’t think i’ve ever had a mouse that i’ve been completely happy with the thumb button placement. Giving people the option to customise the number and placement of buttons sounds like a great idea. If it doesn’t cost the earth, and it’s up to the standard of their other peripherals, the Nyth might just get me to stop buying Logitech mice.

  9. Phasma Felis says:

    That Nyth thing looks pretty spiffy. Think its unprecedented modularity will extend to a version usable by the world’s seven hundred million left-handed people? Just kidding, I know it fucking won’t.

  10. darkmorgado says:

    “To date, that’s been achieved by means of whatever button arrangement a given mouse maker reckons optimal. But a single mouse that suits every MMO and indeed every MMOist is a tall order.”

    And one they haven’t achieved yet by one simple oversight – it’s right-handed only.

    There goes 10% of the potential audience. Why do the manufacturers of gaming mice more often than not forget this simple point?

    • Cockie says:

      Probably because lots of left-handed people use right-handed mice.

      • frightlever says:

        So l was helping set up somebody’s desk at work and he was looking for an extension lead for their phone so he could move it to his left hand side. But he’s left-handed. I’m right-handed and keep my phone on the left so I can lift it with my left hand and hold it to my ear while writing with my right hand – basically the way God intended.

        So I asked why he wanted to move his phone over to his left, and then confirmed this with the other lefty in the office (we’re now corralling them together I assume in case they get uppity.) They both lift the phone with their right hand, tuck it under their chin while cocking their head to hold it to their ear (that doesn’t read like it makes any sense) with the cord across their body and write with both their right hand on the paper and their left holding the pen.

        Is this normal? I mean, not normal, obviously, but is it standard for lefties?

        • Koozer says:

          We aren’t a bloody mutant species. Of course it’s not bloody ‘standard’ for lefties, diffeent people have different ways of working, unless I missed that seminar at Leftcon 2013. Now excuse me while I throw more knives at a picture of Shigeru Miyamoto for making Link right handed.

          • Cockie says:

            W-we aren’t?
            *sighs deeply and throws away x-men costume*

          • Baines says:

            Now now… Miyamoto made Link right-handed because he felt right-handed people weren’t capable of matching a motion-based controller held in their right hand with the actions of a game avatar holding an object in its left hand.

            Which, if true, would mean that right handed people are much less intelligent and coordinated than left handed people.

            Even more so since Twilight Princess only had some basic pointer control bolted onto a Gamecube controller game, so there wasn’t even anything to get particularly confused about, if people even bothered to look at which hand held Link’s weapon when they played.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        No, we don’t.

        Yes, I’m sure you met a fellow at the pub who threw up his hands in despair and forced himself to learn right-handed mousing. Many of us have tried it at some point. A few power through it and accept the unavoidable loss of dexterity in exchange for compatibility. Most of us give up when we realize we will never, ever be as good right-handed as we are with the proper grip. Either way, there’s no really good option available.

        Left-handed people actually have measurably shorter average lifespans, because they get themselves fucking killed trying to operate heavy equipment designed for right-handed people. So don’t presume to act like I can just get up one morning and decide to be right-handed, thank you very much.

        • Cockie says:

          I’d like to point out that I’m left-handed myself and have used right-handed mice all my life without any problem. So it isn’t hearsay.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Same. I naturally write and do everything with my left hand (and eyes, and feet etc).
            But when it comes to eating and using a PC, it’s right hand all the way. Strange, no idea if it’s through familiarity (I got fed up of swapping the forks over or the mouse mats over) or through it just being writing that’s stuck on that side of my brain…

  11. frightlever says:

    +1 for accurate use of “coin”.

  12. Widthwood says:

    Nyth’s customizable buttons are nice (though I predict problems with pressing wider 3-switched ones, unless they would also manage to implement additional supports like on keyboard’s Space key)

    But it misses one of the best features of G600 – ability to have dedicated middle mouse button. The feeling of all three fingers resting on dedicated buttons, and not hovering in limbo is just awesome, and something that was lost years ago when scroll replaced middle button pretty much everywhere.
    In games I like to bind it as “Use”, in firefox it can be customized for immediate scrolling with “Grab and drag” addon, usefulness in others is highly app-dependant, but generally in anything designed to view or edit graphics it will get a lot of use. There’s also MouseImp program that can bring “Grab and drag” style panning to all windows apps (think text editors, IDE’s, table processors, etc), but it doesn’t always behave well.

  13. Wytefang says:

    I’m sure that all the millions and millions of people with 3D printers will rush out to buy that mouse!

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