You’ve seen the rest of the Android micro-consoles, now see the best. That’s Razer’s message, at any rate. Co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan knows very well that there’s a crowded market for tiny boxes that stream Internet content straight to your TV, but the company’s Forge TV aims for the same audience that Razer products have always aimed for: serious gamers.
That’s why it’s a games-first device. The diminutive Android micro-console box supports the expected big-screen mobile gaming, but that’s hardly the marquee feature. Razer’s big hook with Forge TV is the ability to stream gameplay from a networked PC at home directly into your living room.
It’s not anything new at first glance. Nvidia’s Shield offers much the same thing, provided you’re using a specific segment of the company’s newer graphics cards. Forge TV differentiates by anchoring PC streaming to software rather than hardware.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what kind of GPU you’re rocking. You can stream from basically any machine configuration that is using Razer’s Cortex software, which has a streaming feature that’s set for a beta launch in spring 2015. It works with both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, and it supports streaming for DirectX 9 games and higher.
That’s in addition to the onboard support for Android gaming, enabled by 16GB of internal storage, a quad-core processor, and — naturally — support for Google Play apps, for up to four players. Forge TV also supports a number of multimedia apps, including YouTube, Hulu, Crackle, Red Bull TV, and iHeartRadio, as well as Google Cast.
In addition to the micro-console, Razer also has a pair of peripherals that help to complete the package. The Razer Serval is a Bluetooth gaming controller that bears no small resemblance to the now-standard Xbox gamepad form factor. It sports all of the buttons that you’d expect to find on a modern console controller, and was in fact built by the team behind Razer’s Sabretooth controller. It’s also got a mounting clip for phones, allowing Android users to continue their Forge gaming on a small screen.
Razer realizes that not every game offers gamepad support, and that’s where the Turret comes in. It’s an ultra-thin lapboard-style keyboard with an included 3,500 DPI mouse that pairs with your device of choice using either Bluetooth 4.0 LE or Wireless 2.4 GHz signals. The Turret is meant to sit on your lap while you game from the couch, with an attached mousepad that uses magnets to keep the mouse from sliding free.
Neither a Serval nor a Turret is required to use Forge TV, and both peripherals can be used independently with other devices that support wireless pairing as well. It’s possible to control Forge TV using an an assortment of devices: Android, iOS, ChromeBook, Windows, “and more.”
Forge TV is set to ship in the first quarter of 2015, with a $100 price tag. Razer also has a bundle that includes both the micro-console and a Serval controller, for $150. Serval will be available on its own as well, for $80, and it launches alongside Forge TV. The Razer Turret’s release is further out, launching sometime in the second quarter of 2015 with a $130 price.
We’ll be checking all of this new Razer kit out at the show, so stay tuned for more details when we have them.