Some tech is great for all gamers! A nice wireless headset, for instance, should be on anyone’s Christmas buying list. Some, on the other hand, just isn’t. GAEMS, the company that wants to make your home consoles your portable consoles, mostly makes the latter. They’ve got plenty of high-quality products that fulfill certain niche itches quite well, unapologetically so.
Does everyone really need an ultralight tablet-sized monitor like an ultralight M-1155? Or their fantastic M240 Professional Gaming Monitor? Probably not, but the people who do are bound to love it. Today we’re going to talk about GAEMS’ Vanguard Personal Gaming Environment, a solution for the not-so-universal problem of playing games on console while traveling.
The Vanguard, essentially, is a hardshell case about the size of a suitcase with a monitor set into the interior’s top half. There are straps and inserts in the bottom of the case to hold whatever console you choose, so long as that console isn’t the bizarrely-curved PlayStation 3 or the minuscule Wii – the latter might work, but I doubt I’d feel comfortable about it and GAEMS explicitly doesn’t support it. The Vanguard’s got a set of plastic locks on both sides of the case as well, so it stays closed while you’re carrying it around.
Do you even lift, bro? If you’re using this baby for its intended purpose, that means you’re going to be lugging it around a lot. While the Vanguard itself isn’t especially heavy by itself at 17 lbs, that’s going to change once you’ve stuffed an enormous Xbox One in there, bringing its total up to a hefty 24 pounds; the PS4 cuts it down slightly to 23lbs, while the svelte lil’ Wii U would be around 20lbs total. You won’t have to worry about any of your hardware being damaged, since there are enough straps to keep things sitting still, but you might have to worry about your back being damaged.
You might need to find another carrying solution for your cables and controllers, however, especially if you’re using an Xbox One, as adding in the consoles takes up every bit of available carrying room inside. Also, the Vanguard needs to be plugged in to function, so you can’t just set this thing up anywhere; you’re going to need to find an outlet.
As for that monitor, the reason you bought this thing in the first place? It’s pretty good, actually! With its 19” 1080i LED display everything is in HD and is as clear and crisp as you’d expect from a GAEMS product. The 19″ screen, of course, isn’t quite the giant monstrosity you’ve likely got monopolizing your living room, but this is a suitcase, so…anyway, the native resolution is 720p 1366×768 60hz and things can be scaled to 1080p, which is more than good enough for your average modern console game. There’s a single HDMI input on the front along with dual audio jacks and your usual array of buttons for messing with settings.
You also get a remote control, an odd peripheral for a system designed to sit near you during use, but it’s there and works well.
There is, thankfully, no input lag while gaming, so all you Xbox One gamers who need latency-free headshots, your deaths in Halo: Master Chief Collection will remain your own fault. Elsewhere, showoffs will appropriate that those sick Rocket League moves will remain as sick as ever.
You won’t have any issues with the image quality, though the onboard speakers aren’t quite so great; given that it’s a monitor shoved into the top half of a suitcase, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. In any case, since when did travelers not take their own headphones with them? Plug your phones into one of the dual output jacks, pop them on your ears and you’re in audio heaven. There’s no optical jack, though, so if you’re hoping to go whole-hog audiophile then it’s probably not going to happen.
I tested a few of my standby games with the Vanguard. On the Xbox One, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD looked as great as ever – the copious motion blur is Square Enix’s fault and not GAEMS! Sunset Overdrive, meanwhile, has my vote for one of the best aesthetics on the console and was just as colorful and fun on the Vanguard’s 19″ screen as on my 60″ HDTV. Killer Instinct is the perfect game to test for input lag – as mentioned, there wasn’t any – and Halo: Master Chief Collection, another great latency-tester, is as good as you’d expect.
On the PS4, I tried an array of JRPGs and other Japanese titles like Omega Quintet and Deception IV: Nightmare Princess, all of which continued to be colorfully Japanese. I also took a look at Killzone: Shadow Fall, which is essentially a tech demo for showing off how good the PS4’s graphics are. They’re still good and Shadow Fall’s still kind of lame, so…oh, and the Vanguard also works well with the Wii U, even if it’s not the best choice for carting around inside the suitcase itself. Super Mario 3D World was fine, though given the fact that the Wii U’s controller works as a screen for most games, you might not really need the Vanguard for it.
The real question when it comes to the Vanguard Personal Gaming Environment is whether you’ll really need one to call your own. Truthfully, if you aren’t spending a lot of time traveling, you probably don’t; while it’s a nice bit of kit, it’s got a very specific intended use. You’ll use it on the road, you’ll use it to move your console around the house if you can’t keep it in one place, or you won’t use it at all. You probably already know if this is something that’s going to fit into your life, and if the ability to play your consoles anywhere (anywhere where there’s an outlet, anyway) is valuable to you, then head over to GAEMS’ site and pony up.