CES 2007: Philips amBX gaming peripherals

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ambx_product_05.jpg While I have my doubts about the practical benefits of Ambilight technology, Philips seems to have no such reservations and, in fact, is now on the cusp of taking up to the next level – video gaming. It’s a bold concept; imagine that while you play, a dimly lit corridor emerges into a sun-dappled forrest grove and in doing so your whole room majestically lights up in a vivid display of matching colours, a soft breeze cools your sweaty brow and a vibrating wrist attachment kindly informs you that you’ve just been shot in the face.

This is the Philips amBX, proudly claiming to “forever change the way gamers view PC gaming”. The launch range of amBX perpherals includes a pair of left and right satellite lights, a pair of left and right satellite 2.1 speaker lights and subwoofer, a pair of desk fans, a wrist rumbler and a directional wall washer light and controller unit.

The satellite lighting works in conjunction to provide colour and lighting in the context of what’s happening on the screen and are capable of producing some 16 million different colours and can operate dynamically to produce rapidly flashing and soft ambeint glows.

The speakers and subwoofer also offer 160-watt multidirectional sound complete with dynamic bass boost, “adding realism while reducing the clutter of separate speakers, saving on all-important desk space”. And, believe me, you’re going to need to save as much as possible given that it any remaining space will be filled up with satellite lights and desk fans. I would also point out that you don’t tend to clutter up your desk space with rear surround sound speakers because they, y’know, go behind you.

Speaking of the desk fans, these puppies will go up to 5,000 RPM if the situation demands it and can be simulate a variety of in-game situations such as wind, collision impact, acceleration, velocity, air flow from an airplane propeller or a draft under a door and even a drop in ambient temperature.

But perhaps my favourite is the unfortunately named ‘wrist rumbler’ which is basically a rumble pack. Attached to your wrist. Oh dear. It’s going to be fun running that past the guy behind the counter at Game.

The demonstration in the Philips press conference certainly was an impressive display of light and sound but on a far larger scale than your typical PC gamer will ever get to actually experience in the cramped confines of their own gaming space. The real drawback is that each game that takes advantage of the amBX technology has to be specially programmed to do so and the only games that are currently amBX-enabled are THQ’s popular Broken Sword: The Angel of Death, Codemaster’s Toca Racing Driver 3, DEFCON from Introversion, Kuju’s RAIL SIMULATOR and Supreme Commander by THQ – more games will be announced in the coming weeks. There’s definately nothing worth writing home about in the current list and without a serious uptake of this amBX technology I doubt many other companies are going to spend more time in development phase to enable it. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.

We managed to get a short video for you to check out so you can see for yourself.

Check out the rest of our CES coverage.

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