E3 is an exciting time not just because of the many game announcements, but also new gaming hardware. Accessory manufacturer Nyko brought three upcoming Xbox One accessories to the show: the SpeakerCom, InterCooler Grip, and Charge Block, as well as a trio of VR accessories. Read on for hands-on impressions and photos!
The Charge Block is Nyko's latest controller charging solution, and its most versatile. It can plug into wall outlets, USB ports, and even other Charge Blocks (allowing multiple controllers to be charged simultaneously). The power cable is micro-USB, so it can also be disconnected from the Charge Block and plugged directly into a controller so that you can charge while playing. You can basically charge anything with it, including phones.
Nyko will release Charge Blocks for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Xbox One version includes a 1200 mAh battery pack. The PlayStation 4 version includes micro-USB dongles for charging (you plug the dongle into the controller's micro-USB port).
Because Charge Blocks are daisy chainable, Nyko will offer them in both Solo and Duo configurations. Get the Solo if you only want to charge one controller at a time or a Duo to charge two controllers at once. The Solo will sell for $19.99 on Xbox One and $14.99 on PlayStation 4. The Duo will sell for $29.99 on Xbox One and includes two battery packs; the PlayStation 4 version will cost $24.99.
The Charge Block Solo and Charge Block Duo will launch in September.
Nyko has been making Intercoolers – external cooling fans – for consoles for years. We reviewed the Intercooler for Xbox One a while back and found it useful in very specific cases, but nonessential for most users. The Intercooler Grip, on the other hand, should have much more mainstream appeal. Instead of cooling the console, it cools your hands.
The Intercooler Grip is a black accessory that plugs into the bottom of the Xbox One controller, much like the Chatpad. A fan draws air from the front center of the unit and blows it out through vents on the Intercooler Grip's front and rear sides. This produces a subtle cooling effect. It's not like your hands will freeze while holding the controller; the air flow just helps reduce heat buildup. No more sweaty grips!
A micro-USB port on the bottom of the Intercooler Grip provides power, so you won't be using this accessory wirelessly. The bottom of the unit also has an On/Off switch and an LED light. At present, the Intercooler Grip doesn't have a headset jack. Thankfully, Nyko plans to include a headset jack in the final version.
The Intercooler Grip will be released for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in Fall 2016. Each version will cost $19.99.
The Nyko Xbox One accessory I'm most excited for is the SpeakerCom. Nyko released a SpeakerCom for Xbox 360 several years ago, and now Xbox One is finally getting one as well. The SpeakerCom is a speakerphone-style alternative to traditional headsets.
The SpeakerCom plugs into the bottom of the controller, just like the Intercooler Grip and Chatpad, and has a speaker and microphone embedded in its face. When you engage in voice chat, the sound plays through the speaker. To speak, you press a Push-to-talk button on the back of the accessory. That way, you don't broadcast unwanted background sounds constantly (which happens when using the Kinect for voice chat).
The bottom of the SpeakerCom has a volume knob that adjusts the volume of the speaker. It also has a micro-USB port, which might indicate that the SpeakerCom requires a power source (we're checking up on this). There is no headset jack, which makes sense since this is a headset replacement.
The benefits of the SpeakerCom are that you can participate in voice chat without having to wear a headset. Even the best headsets can feel a bit bulky and uncomfortable after hours of use, something that won't be a problem with this accessory. And you won't be tangling up with a wire draping from your head all over your torso and arms. We couldn't test the product's sound quality in the loudness of E3, but hopefully both the speaker and microphone will be up to snuff.
The Nyko SpeakerCom is coming to both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall. Each version will cost $24.99. We'll definitely review the Xbox One version when it comes out!
In addition to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 accessories mentioned above, Nyko showed off three accessories for all Virtual Reality platforms:
- VR Guardian: When you wear a VR headset, you can't see the environment around you. This can lead to bumping into objects and looking the fool. The VR Guardian helps create a "VR safe zone" so you can avoid embarrassing real-world collisions. Place the four sensors around the room to create the safe zone. A vibrating wristband will indicate when you exceed the boundaries of that zone. This could prove very helpful if you're moving out of bounds with your vision obscured by VR.
- VR Motion Band: These black rubber wristbands have a built-in acupuncture bead that stimulates the anterior surface of the forearm, which Nyko tells us is a key pressure point. This can apparently combat the motion sickness that some people experience from VR headsets. They also help release muscular tension and stress, promote the circulation of blood, and promote relaxation.
- VR Stand: A simple stand for VR headsets
All three products will launch in Fall 2016. The VR Guardian will retail for $99.99 and the VR Motion Band will sell for $9.99. No word on pricing for the VR Stand yet, but it should be on the low end of the spectrum.