Gaming peripherals: the unsung heroes of the gaming world. While fans tend to justifiably focus their attention on new releases and new hardware, sometimes things slip through the cracks, things that should and could have a big impact. Things that make the gaming experience better all around.
Some of those things are essential to the gameplay experience, things like a keyboard or a mouse for PC gaming. Others are just enhancements to the experience, things like gaming headsets, or in one case a gaming chair.
So with the end of the year just a few short weeks away, we look back over the best peripherals of the year.
Astro A50 review
The last few years have seen a huge influx of gaming headsets on the market. What started as a very specific industry, dominated by just a handful of manufacturers, is now one of the most competitive sub-markets of the gaming industry. When it comes to headsets there is something for every level of gamer; from the high end units that are packed full of technology, to the budget models with good sound for a reasonable price. One of our favorites this year comes from Astro, a manufacturer that was once at the top of the headset heap, but hasn’t released much recently. But after being purchased by Skullcandy, Astro is back in a big way, and the A50 – while admittedly being on the pricey side with the near $300 price tag – is one of the best headsets on the market today.
Cohesion XP 2.1 Gaming Chair
It’s both a piece of gaming peripheral and furniture, something you don’t see often enough. It isn’t for everyone due to its low center of gravity, but for those that don’t mind dropping all the way to the ground there is a lot to like about this chair. From the speakers in the headrest to the headphone jacks and volume controls, it’s worth dragging this chair around with you. At $69.99 (or much less if you look around), it is a great seat for gamers.
Made specifically for hardcore gamers, these controller extensions offer a touch of extra sensitivity for first person shooter aficionados. Make no mistake though, these are made for devoted gamers looking for an edge in multiplayer first person shooters more than anything else. A great addition for anyone that is a serious competitive gamer.
Hauppauge HD PVR 2
Live streaming and recording video games is leading to an increase in spectating games, but most people on consoles aren’t able to partake, at least not without additional help. It takes some hardware, and that’s where the Hauppauge HD comes in. Easy to use and simple to hook up, live capturing gaming has more and more uses, and this device makes it easy.
It might be a bit of a cheat to consider this a peripheral of 2012 since it has been around for a while now, but Microsoft continues to push the development of its motion controller. The library of games is more robust than ever and most games for the 360 have at least some uses for the Kinect. Plus the Xbox 360 has found ways to integrate the hardware in new and intriguing ways including voice search. With all the 360 bundles out this year that also include the controller, the Kinect is more attractive than ever.
Nyko Speaker Stand
The PS Vita is still trying to find its footing, and it’s doing so by looking for new ways to increase what the handheld system can do. Besides being a gaming device, it also plays videos, music, and features streaming services like Netflix. So as long as the battery holds out or you have an outlet nearby, this stand makes the Vita a portable multimedia device that you can take anywhere.
PS Move Racing Wheel
While the Kinect is grabbing all the headlines, Sony’s motion based controller hasn’t quite captured the attention of the market in quite the same way. But there are more and more new ways to use the peripheral, and one of those additions is the PS Move Racing Wheel. This peripheral isn’t enough on its own to make you rush out and grab the Move, but if you already own one, the Move Racing Wheel is worth a look.
Razer Mamba 4G 2012
The more PC games you play, the more you come to the inevitable realization that you need a gaming mouse. You can get by with a generic keyboard, for a while at least, but a mouse is a different story. It makes a huge difference, and this is one of the best on the market.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Granted, this tablet is a bit of a stretch to call a peripheral. It’s much more than that, but it also serves as an additional tool for gaming – especially when you pair it with something like Microsoft’s Smartglass, which makes a tablet into an extension of the Xbox 360. If that doesn’t do it for you, it also plays games on the Android ecosystem, making it a platform in its own right.
While a PC gamer can get a lot out of the majority of keyboards, the more customizable it is, the better the experience. There are flashier keyboards out there, but for under $30, the 20 additional multimedia keys and easily assignable macros on the Sharkoon Skiller make this a great buy for a gamer on a budget.