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E3 2012 Portable Electronics Roundup

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Another year, another Electronics Entertainment Expo. Although E3 2012 didn’t exactly have a definitive “stop the presses, holy cow, that’s un-freaking-believable” moment, it still had its share of notable announcements for lovers of all things portable. Here are a few that come to mind.

Microsoft’s Smart Glass for Xbox: Microsoft tried to steal a bit of the thunder from Nintendo’s hybrid Wii U controller by unveiling a touchscreen interface of its own for the Xbox. Smart Glass — not to be confused with Google's Project Glass — essentially allows Android, iOS and Windows smartphones and tablets to serve as secondary displays or controllers. Besides adding extra functionality to games via map interfaces or calling plays in Madden football, Smart Glass is also being designed to work with other media such as movies and music. It’s still rough around the edges but the promise is in its potential.

Nintendo Wii U and 3DS: Speaking of good, old “Ninty,” its new Wii U system isn’t exactly portable but its Gamepad controller certainly has some portable applications. For starters, it allows users to load up a game on its built-in screen and play sans television. The touch-enabled display can also be used with apps, including one that turns it into a TV remote. It’s easy to make fun of Nintendo’s quirky approaches to gaming but following the success of the DS and Wii after many people made fun of them, I’m not about to count the “Big N” out. As far as the 3DS, games pushed for the portable system at E3 include:

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
  • Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
  • Heroes of Ruin
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
  • Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes
  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • New Super Mario Brothers 2
  • Paper Mario Sticker Stars
  • Pokemon Black and White 2
  • Rabbids Rumble
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Transformers Prime

3DS gamers not quite happy with Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro also get another option from Nyko, the Power Grip Pro, which also comes with a built-in battery.

PlayStation Vita: Not to be outdone by Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony also introduced an augmented controller setup of its own. In Sony’s case, this will be done via its Cross Controller system, which will allow gamers to use a PS Vita to control PS3 games. As with Smart Glass and the Wii U Gamepad, the Vita screen will be used to provide extra functions for games. Sony also announced PSOne Classics compatibility with the Vita. U.S. gamers pining for the Crystal White Vita being released in Japan also get a non-black Vita to call their own later this year as Sony announced a white Vita bundle with Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. Other games of note include Resistance: Burning Skies, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and a Vita version of PlayStation All Stars: Battle Royale with cross-platform capability.

Gaming headsets: There were headphones galore at this year’s E3. Astro and Turtle Beach continued their battle for the hearts and minds of audio-conscious gamers by announcing new products. Astro’s $300 A50 essentially melds the capabilities of its A40 headset and MixAmp into one wireless package. For its part, Turtle Beach unveiled a slew of products, including the Ear Force M7, ZLa, PLa and XLa. It also announced licensed headsets for the Wii U, Call of Duty Black Ops II and Major League Gaming. Sony unveiled its PlayStation Pulse Elite Edition while PDP showed off its Afterglow headset.

Mobile controllers: Consoles aren’t the only gaming platform that got love at E3. Mobile games received some attention as well, including TegraZone and Android PlayPad controllers from Nyko and the Snakebyte tablet controller for Android and iOS devices.

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