InfiVention Technologies, creator of the magical self-moving Square Off Kingdom chessboard, has announced two new products. The first, the Square Off Neo, is an affordable enhancement of the original Square Off chessboard. The second, the Square Off Swap, is the next level of the interconnected game board, with support for multiple games, saved games, and even live-streaming of professional chess games from around the world.
Alright, so the Square Off Neo’s small improvements aren’t as immediately exciting as the multi-game, live-streaming Square Off Swap, but it would be a mistake to discount the smaller Neo. The Neo takes everything we loved about the original Square Off Kingdom chessboard, and packs it into a smaller package at a lower price of $199.
Measuring 14.72 inches by 14.72 inches and weighing just 3.3 pounds, the Neo is designed to be a cheaper entryway to Square Off’s smart chess experience. It’s controlled through an app on your phone, which connects to the board via a Bluetooth connection. From there, you can play against Square Off’s built-in A.I. with 30 different difficulty levels. Viktor, your personal A.I. coach, will help you to learn chess or sharpen your skills with a mix of challenges, puzzles, and real-time coaching during games.
You don’t just have to play against the computer though — the app also connects you to a world of real opponents. Send a challenge and the board handles the rest, transmitting your moves to their chessboard, while theirs are sent to yours. The app even has support for video calls, so you can put a face to the tactics.
Whether playing against a distant opponent or a synthetic one, the pieces on your board are moved through the same spectral method as the original Square Off chessboard. A series of magnetized arms sit below the board, pulling each piece to match an opponent’s moves. It’s a startling experience, and it’s more than reminiscent of Wizard’s Chess from Harry Potter — without the brutality. Playing in-person? Then it just functions as a standard chessboard.
Unfortunately, there’s a drawback to plumping for the Neo over a more expensive model — and that’s battery life. That’s because it doesn’t have one. The Square Off Neo is fully dependent on its 12V power adapter. This means that, despite its obvious portability, tucking it under your arm and heading off to the park isn’t an option.
But if you’re a chess-lover who isn’t fussed about straying far from a socket, then the Square Off Neo is worth a look. The MSRP for the Neo starts at $199, but early adopters can get it for as low as $99 through the pair’s Kickstarter campaign. It comes in ebony and wood finishes.
But if you’re a chess die-hard looking to get all the features, then the Neo’s savings won’t balance out the Square Off Swap’s amazing new features.
The Swap does everything the Neo does, but more. The headline feature is absolutely the multi-game support. While chess remains the Swap’s primary focus, you can use the app to swap between playing four games in total: Chess, halma, draughts, and even Connect 4. If you’re a fan of speed chess, then the Swap has you covered with a Blitz Chess mode that moves almost as fast as you can think. If you have to pause a game, the Swap will remember each piece’s position and put them back when you’re ready to resume. Each piece also has its own designated “parking spot” on the board after it’s captured.
The Swap can also become your personal stadium for watching live chess matches too. Using the app, you can sync the Swap up to professional chess matches in progress, the pieces on the board moving in response to each pro’s moves. It’s a personal viewing experience you’ll struggle to match in any other way.
The Square Off Swap is the larger of the two boards, with extended wings to either side of the 96 square board that house each piece’s parking space. At 4.3 lbs it’s not overly heavy, and a rechargeable 2,200mAh battery means you can take your board out with you.
Interested? The Square Off Swap will cost $249 when finally released, but like the Neo, early adopters can take advantage of a reduced $149 price while the Kickstarter campaign is running. It comes in an attractive brushed metal finish.
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