Taking a run through the early, underpopulated hours of the DigitalLife expo here in New York, we were pleased to see at least three new laptops that mobile gaming fans will be interested in.
First up was Dell XPS m1730, making its official debut. Of course, this may go down as one of the most-leaked "secret" laptops in history, with Dell itself sending a preorder advertising e-mail to its XPS mailing list earlier this week. Now that it's officially out, we'll politely feign surprise, but our excitement is genuine as this is a sorely needed update to the older XPS m1710 model.
While it still looks like a telephone book (unlike Dell's recent stabs at more elegant designs, such as the XPS m1330), the m1730 impresses with high-end CPU and SLI graphics options, including DirectX 10 support. It's also the first laptop we've seen to offer a mobile version of Ageia PhysX physics accelerator, which works with certain supported games to provide additional processing power for in-game physics, leading to bigger explosions, more interactive environments, and so forth. There are only a handful of games that support the PhysX card right now, but Dell did manage to get a custom-modded version of the upcoming Unreal Tournament III, which adds PhysX support, to use as a demo.
The Dell XPS m1730 is available today, starting at $2,999, but a fully loaded model will set you back closer to $4,500.
Toshiba, which always puts out systems that look good and offer lots of multimedia features, seems to be getting serious about gaming, adding Nvidia SLI technology to its Satellite X205 gaming notebook series. The new X205 will offer twin Nvidia GeForce 8600GT chips, which are DirectX10 compatible.
Toshiba was showing the system off with the PC version of BioShock (it even had a cobranded BioShock promotional sticker on the keyboard tray), and it seemed to run that resource-hungry game with no problem. The SLI version of the X205 starts at $1,999, which is great for a laptop with two GPUs. While they're taking orders now, the units should start shipping in a week or two.
HP's partnership with boutique computer-maker Voodoo has already yielded amazing results with the massive Blackbirdgaming desktop. The first new HP/Voodoo laptop is ready to hit the streets, and Envy M:152 is an equally impressive-looking, 15-inch gaming laptop, itself something of a rarity.
For around $3,300, you get a professional automotive paint job, the DirectX 10 Nvidia GeForce 8600GT GPU, and 1,680x1,050 screen resolution, which is excellent for a 15-inch laptop--all in a package that weighs under 7 pounds.
We'll be getting all three of these new gaming laptops in our labs soon, so stay tuned for in-depth reviews of each.
Most amusing DigitalLife moment: Free press room Wi-Fi for journalists at shows such as this is a notoriously sketchy affair. Even so, most events at least give it a shot. When my colleagues and I couldn't connect at the DigitalLife press room, we asked one of the attendants for help. He said, "Oh, we don't have Wi-Fi in here," even though there was a large sign right behind his head that said "Wi-Fi" and purported to offer a press password for a wireless network we were never able to find.
We checked back a few minutes later to find DigitalLife's ingenious solution to this problem--they had simply taken down the sign.