[H]ardware Workshop & Conclusion
As we mentioned in the introduction, one of the staples of QuakeCon would have to be [H]'s hardware workshop. And as usual, Kyle had assembled an A-list of vendors to provide prizes and give presentations regarding the latest and greatest hardware on the market.
With more than $15,000 worth of the latest hardware sitting on stage, it was no surprise to see a packed conference room. With each audience member getting a raffle ticket when they walked through the door, the odds were looking pretty good for everyone to walk away with something. Here, you could end up with anything from a T-Shirt to a flagship GeForce 7800GTX with just about any kind of hardware you can imagine in between.
Logitech was the first vendor to be brought onstage and they came armed with an entire family of new gaming mice and even a radical new keyboard. The new laser mice appear to be incredible with more customization than any other product we've seen thus far. From dialing in the dpi to being able to change the weights inside the mouse itself, these new products are sure to be popular with the LAN crowd. Logitech also has an impressive new keyboard that is complete with blue backlit keys and a custom LCD panel. Perhaps the most impressive feature however is a "gaming switch" which disables the Windows key when gaming. Now if I had a dime for every time I inadvertently hit that Windows key during a fast and furious fragfest...
Andrew Fear from NVIDIA was on hand to field some questions and tackle the topic of software and driver development. Although the presentation was brief and mainly directed towards audience questions, Andrew did make it known that mobile drivers would be a major focus for NVIDIA in the coming months. As someone gaming on a notebook at QuakeCon, this is welcomed news to say the least.
Ageia's CEO was next on stage and he brought a series of demos to showcase the company's new PhysX physics processor. From complex plane crashes to thousands of boulders crashing down a mountain face, there was little doubt in the audience that we would all like to see what developers could do with this kind of power at their disposal.
Harry Yen from Abit was present to discuss the company's new RMA policies. As one of the highest quality motherboard vendors over the years, Abit has earned a solid reputation for performance and service. In keeping with that tradition, Abit has developed a new online RMA policy that allows you to service any defective product without ever picking up a phone or emailing the company. Taking things one step further, Abit even cross-ships you your replacement so that you have no down-time with your hardware. If you're in the market for a new motherboard, things like this should certainly be kept in mind.
Lastly, ATI was on hand to briefly discuss some of their upcoming hardware. From Xbox 360 to new gaming-specific cell phones, it seems like ATI has some solid plans for getting in the hands of gamers in the coming months. Now if only we could get our hands on R520 and a CrossFire board, we'd be truly impressed with our friends from Canada. Regardless, we were told to expect these products in September so it might be safe to start holding your breath.
Having spent the better part of three days in Dallas, and witnessed a fair amount of debauchery and gaming to go home with a clear conscience, we must admit that this year has earned the right to be called our favorite QuakeCon thus far. The gaming was excellent, the new hardware exciting, and the people were as rambunctious as we could have ever asked for. Without question, this event is one of the staples of the gaming community and is responsible for bringing hardware vendors more in line with the needs of today's competitive gamer. Throughout graphics card reviews, we find ourselves referencing the "gaming experience". For those who haven't made the trip to QuakeCon yet, do yourselves a favor and register for next year. A day or so at QuakeCon and you'll understand what the true gaming experience is all about.
Thanks to all who participated and assisted with this year's event. As usual we walked away extremely impressed and eagerly looking forward to next year.