Welcome to the 2011 Platform Nation Holiday Buyers Guide! This section will show you our top picks for hardware and gaming accessories!
Controllers and Accessories
KontrolFreeks – PS3 and Xbox 360 Controller Add-on – $10-15
Every gamer wants to win, its just a fact; and whether or not you’re endowed with virtual ass-kicking skills, you can always use an extra edge. KontrolFreeks gives you that edge, in any genre of game. Platform Nation has reviewed a series of KontrolFreeks, and the true standouts are the Speed Freek Apex – which give you the best control over racing games, the FPS Freek EPIC for the best performance in shooters, and the FPS Freek CQC for the ultimate in grip and close-quarters control.
Click over to these links to see full reviews for each of our top recommended KontrolFreeks
Raptor Gaming LK1 Keyboard – Gaming Keyboard -$35
The Raptor Gaming LK1 is one of the cheapest and well made gaming keyboards on the market today. For just $35 – which beats out other manufacturer’s cheapest boards by $10-15, the LK1 provides an extremely light actuation force in a small frame. Other features include a water-resistant frame and a 6-key rollover. Read the full review of the Raptor Gaming LK1 here.
Subsonic Pro PS3 Controller – Playstation 3 Controller – $40
The Subsonic Pro controller for the PS3 provides many of the same features as the Sony Dualshock, but for less money. Rumble? Check. Wireless? Check. Re-Chargeable Battery? Check. Unfortunately the Subsonic Pro does not have support for SixAxis motion controls – but it’s not like anyone liked that anyway, right? The Subsonic Pro has redesigned triggers for added precision. Best of all the controller is compatible with the PC as well, so it’s like getting two controllers for the price of one! Read our full review of the Subsonic Pro PS3 Controller here.
Memorex Wii Controller and Nunchuck – 3rd Party Wii Controller – $35 – $50 w/nunchuck
The Wii is a party game system, and you can’t play party games without a lot of controllers! But who wants to go spending a bunch on extra controllers? The Memorex Wii Controller provides quality control for just $35! The body of the controller is identical to the official Nintendo unit – from the button placement to the battery cover – which lets you use all your existing controller accessories and battery packs with the Memorex set. MotionPlus is integrated into the unit, so it supports all the newest games and features. The Nunchuck, which is sold separately, is a stylish and sleek wireless unit that syncs up flawlessly. The Memorex Wii Controller is a quality third party controller on the cheap. See our full review here.
The Minimote fits the Wii controller into a shell that’s 25% smaller. Perfect for young kids or gamers with small hands. The Minimote is well constructed and sturdy, giving you a good durable 3rd party alternative. The downsides, though, are that the small size means it wont work with Wii accessories like steering wheels or battery packs. But if the normal Wiimote is just too big, it’s a solid option. Read our full review here.
Ten One Design made the headlines with their Pogo Stylus, a stylus that worked on the iPad, iPhone and other capacitive screens. Now they make a whole assortment of capacitive accessories, that bring some much needed analogue controls to the mostly button-less tablets of today. The Fling is designed especially for the iPad, and is a mechanical analogue stick that uses a coiled piece of plastic to provide resistance like console controllers do. Press it on with the integrated suction cups, and like magic you have an analogue stick to play your favorite games with. For those going for the high score or playing online, the added control really helps. The only downside to the Fling is its admittedly high price tag. See our full review here.
Blue Snowball USB Recording Mic – High Grade Microphone – $50-60
The Blue Snowball USB Mic is the perfect companion to any enterprising podcaster. The classically styled microphone is easy to use, well constructed, and most importantly – sounds natural. Many podcasts use the Blue Snowball Mic for their shows because it captures your voice in an authentic way – in fact some of Platform Nation’s own podcasters use the Blue Snowball. Three selectable settings on the back provide optimal conditions for recording vocals, music, and interviews or conferences. The Blue Snowball is available for around $50-$60, making it the perfect microphone for recording professional-grade audio or simply talking to teammates in ventrillo. See our full review here.
iFrogz Legion Earbuds – Noise Isolating Earbuds – $25
These earbuds pack in incredible sound, powered by a 9mm driver, while at the same time keeping outside sound out. Don’t be afraid to jam out with the Legion Earbuds, which reproduce bass in booming quantity. The buds come with 3 sizes of earfit attachments for all listeners. Best of all they provide all this for just $25, a price that can’t be beat. Read our full review here.
iFrogz Vertex Headset – Integrated Mic Headphones – $50
Maybe the above Legion Earbuds arent for you; you’re just not an earbuds guy. Thats okay, because iFrogz also makes an excellent pair of traditional headphones. The AeroFoam padding leaves the softest imprint on your ears, meaning you will never get usage fatigue. On top of that the Vertex Headset comes with an in-line mic, so you can listen to music without compromising sound-quality, but still have the convenience of quickly answering calls.
The Vertex Headset also looks spiffy – much more so than you would expect for a midpriced set. The reinforced cord and plug will keep them safe when you store them in your bag. See the full review here.
JLAB J-4 Headset – Premium Earbuds – $40
The JLAB J-4 Headsets are high-quality and absolutely pop due to their bright coloring. On top of the unique coloring is the distinguishable square plug which sets it apart from other designs. The large buds produce booming sound and are compatible with all 3.5mm devices. The J-4s come with a whopping 7 set of ear cushions for every imaginable size of ear! So if you are in the market for comfy and quality earbuds the JLAB J-4s are the way to go. See the full review here.
Whats that you say? The Microsoft Xbox 360 headset only provides voice output and 5.1 sets are too expensive and bulky? Well then the Yapster Blaster Headset is the perfect in between. For just $30 you get a very high quality headset and attached microphone that works flawlessly as a PC headset. Then snap on the dongle and you have a fully compatible Xbox 360 headset. The functionality is perfect for gamers who switch platforms a lot, and there is no doubt you will be pleased with the sound quality. See our full review here.
Sumo makes premium beanbag chairs for comfortable lounging and gaming. While you may think some fancy thing made out of wood with legs and arms would be comfy you would be wrong, because sitting in a Sumo beanbag chair is just one level below relaxing in a cloud. Whereas the beanbag you had in college was a trash-bag full of packing peanuts stapled shut, Sumo’s beanbags are made of the highest quality materials. The high quality nylon bag is filled with what Sumo will only say are “Sumo Beads” , and my best guess of whats inside would be feathers from an angel’s wings. Now unfortunately all this comfort comes at a price – The Sumo Omni Bag comes in at $150 and the Sumo Gamer at an even steeper $200. Fortunately shipping is included – and since these bags weigh an upwards of 15lbs, this is quite a savings – and they come with a great warranty. Everyone at Platform Nation who has used a Sumo product has loved it. You can read our full review of the Sumo Omni here and the Sumo Gamer here.
HappyToyMachine.com isn’t some Japanese game show, but a really unique service that also allows you to create customized stuffed toys. If you are over the age of 8, or don’t have any kids, this probably does not interest you. But if you are in their demographic, this is a really great gift idea for your children. You get to design the face and facial features, its outfit, and a new feature lets you customize the hair. The company is working to add new features all the time to expand the choices. One of our Platform Nation writers (and father) customized and created a toy with his son, and they both loved the experience and final product. Read an in-depth review that documents all the steps here.
I know what you’re saying right now, ugh there are roughly a billion iPod and iPhone cases, all doing pretty much the same thing. But no! This one is different! Bioserie’s cases are made from a plant-based bioplastic which doesn’t produce toxic byproducts that harm the environment. Bioserie makes a whole range of iDevice cases; we at Platform Nation got our hands on the iPod Touch 4G case. Soft colors, a good grip, and ecofriendly design make this case a great buy. It’s a little on the expensive side, but if you want to support environmentally friendly technology you got to pay a bit more. Read our full review here.
You have probably seen commercials for the Magic Jack – the only sold on TV doohickey that promises cheap phone calls. Well the OBi110 is like a magic jack on a steroid cocktail. It gives you VoIP service and integrates seamlessly with your normal phone service. Pick up the phone and add a prefix and you can call straight to a VoIP service. It also integrates directly with Google Voice, which is a pretty slick feature. Better yet, all the services like conferences calling, call forwarding, caller id, and many more, are free. Read more about all of the OBi110’s great features here.
The Cirago HyrdaDisplay lets you mirror an image on up to three monitors or project a continuous one for super-wide screen gaming or movie viewing. It’s mostly a specialized item, but if you are in the market for a multimonitor adapter this is a very good pick. It splits one display port plug into three DVI ports and the unit outputs up to 3840 x 1024 or three 1280×1024. Remember though you still need powerful hardware to push out all those pixels! Read our full review here.
We are always looking for storage to keep our prized electronic devices from not only the elements but from mishaps when traveling, and Pelican Cases does just that. With its dustproof, crushproof, and watertight protection this is a must have not only for the gamer in your life, but for the photographer, the hunter and to include just about anyone that needs their valuables protected. Now the 1170 is not the only case available as there is a large selection of the best cases around to protect your valuables, so be sure to check out their website for sizes and pricing.
Now these are our suggestions for some great products for the gamer in your life during the Holiday Season. As we can’t include all the awesome products out there, we ask you to leave a comment or two for the products you would like to suggest to the Platform Nation Community.
Let us know what you think and Happy Holidays!