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Old 09-29-2009, 04:10 PM   #1
MrWally
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amBX Gaming

I was going to post this in the "Very Good Things" thread, but I decided that I would go all out and provide a review of the product and give it it's own spot on the forum.

So a few weeks back I was lucky enough to notice an amBX Premium Kit available on Sellout Woot for about $75. For those who have never heard of amBX, it's basically a set of gaming peripherals that strive to enhance the ambient atmosphere of a video game, thus further enveloping the player in the game's world.

Some videos:

View page
YouTube Video

View page
YouTube Video

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YouTube Video

The premium kid comes with 2 lights, a 2.1 speaker system, 2 fans, and a rumble pad.

In most games the fans simulate wind while running or falling, but several have other added effects, like in CoD4 when a grenade explodes you feel a blast of air depending on how close it is to you, and when a helicopter passes overhead you can feel the rush of the whirling blades.

The rumble pad lies near the base of your keyboard sits beneath your wrist, much like the wrist rests (wtf are those called, anyways?) that come with many keyboards. The pads vibrate much like a console controller, providing feedback when you shoot a gun, take falling damage, etc, depending on the game, of course.

And the lights are obviously an extension of the game lighting, as you can see in the videos. While they don't always match the lighting on your screen precisely (well, for some games they do, but it's not always perfect), you don't really notice the inconsistencies while you're playing. Instead, they really draw you into the game. I was very impressed with the lights, especially for games that have embedded amBX support.


At first I was very skeptical. I figured that the lights would be distracting, the fans would be loud, and that the rumble pad would be a nuisance. Furthermore, I already have 5.1 surround sound on my computer, so I wasn't even planning on using the speakers. Nevertheless, I decided that I would take a risk and purchase the kit.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

It's by no means a perfect system, but I have fallen in love with the amBX kit. The purpose of the product is to enhance the gaming environment, and it certainly does. Call of Duty 4 and other shooters have never felt more real. And it even re-sparked my interest in other games that I had stopped playing months ago. For instance, it was just so cool to be playing Oblivion and feel the rush of wind when you cast a fireball spell, and then experienced your entire room filling with a burst of white light fading into blue when you cast a healing spell.

My only real complaint is that not enough games use ambx support. Thankfully just about every game can make use of the lighting, and the automatic lighting that amBX simulates is pretty accurate, but only a handful of games make use of the fans and the rumble pad. Luckily the number is steadily increasing and the community on the amBX website is pretty active, with developers constantly making updates and patches for different games to provide ambx support. They even got it to work in Windows 7 before the OS was released!

If anyone is looking for a way to revitalize their gaming experience, this is definitely what did it for me. I'd be glad to answer any questions about the product, and would highly recommend it to anyone with a bit of extra pocket money.

Also, out of curiosity, do any other swampies play with amBX?



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Old 09-29-2009, 11:22 PM   #2
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I really really really really want to try that

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Old 09-30-2009, 01:10 AM   #3
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I don't play with amBX since I never heard of it, but damn if you haven't gotten my interest. All that for $75? Sounds pretty economical for what you get--and not have to make it yourself. So what if it isn't perfect.

It might make the game experiences more immersive. At the least increase the spiff factor of a mundane machine. Thanks for the consumer report.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:40 AM   #4
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Yeah. I actually got it for a pretty low price ($75 WITH shipping), not sure what the resale value is, but I'd probably pay full price now that I've tried it out.

If anyone out there is interested but doesn't want to pay the full price I know that that was the second time the amBX kit was available on woot/sellout.woot so keep your eyes open!

Also: I like that they have it available seperately. For instance, if you don't want to mess with fans or the rumble pad you can just buy the light kit. Definitely a reasonable system.



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Old 09-30-2009, 05:15 AM   #5
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looks like a really strange way to hide crappy black levels for certain lcd hdtv's...

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Old 09-30-2009, 08:15 PM   #6
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Yeah. I actually got it for a pretty low price ($75 WITH shipping), not sure what the resale value is, but I'd probably pay full price now that I've tried it out.

If anyone out there is interested but doesn't want to pay the full price I know that that was the second time the amBX kit was available on woot/sellout.woot so keep your eyes open!
Nnn.ICE! I love these 'bells and whistles' sorts of gizmos.
Quote:
Also: I like that they have it available seperately. For instance, if you don't want to mess with fans or the rumble pad you can just buy the light kit. Definitely a reasonable system.
Forgive my electronics nerdyness:
I wonder what the ratings are on all the peripherals? (How much effect per watt of power, basically.)

Also: it would not surprise me if the lighting system used Seoul brand multiwatt RGB LEDs--some of the very best on the market. Could be another brand though. But I honestly haven't seen anything else (yet) with that level of performance.
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:23 AM   #7
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Looks like another one of those PC peripherals akin to the DOS periph fad back in the 90's: Gimmicky, expensive, and lack of support.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:15 AM   #8
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I'm with PastramiX, from what I hear the support is for very few games and the drivers are terrible. I can't see it caching on, at least untill there is an open API available and anyone can make compatible hardware and programs for it.






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Old 10-01-2009, 12:36 PM   #9
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Looks like another one of those PC peripherals akin to the DOS periph fad back in the 90's: Gimmicky, expensive, and lack of support.
That's precisely what I was worried about before buying it, and that's what I was hoping to disprove in my review.

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I'm with PastramiX, from what I hear the support is for very few games and the drivers are terrible. I can't see it caching on, at least untill there is an open API available and anyone can make compatible hardware and programs for it.
The lights work with just about every gave I've thrown them at because they can natively match what's on the monitor. For instance, see that Mass Effect video? Mass Effect has no amBX support, but it works very well natively.

Additionally, even if you don't play many games, the lights are compatible with VLC (the only video player I use), and can match the visualizations in wmp. This alone was enough reason for me to switch back to wmp as my primarily music player because it's just so cool to have lights flashing to the beat and rhythm of the music like they would at a club or something.

And as for the drivers... I have no idea where you heard that. I was actually most impressed by the drivers once I had them installed and updated. They're very simple to use, but have quite a bit of customization.

It's possible that the bad review you heard was from a while back before amBX split from Phillips and became it's own division. After that the drivers became open source and the team became very dedicated to the community, making the system compatible for as many games as they can while keeping the customers happy.



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Old 10-01-2009, 01:45 PM   #10
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This is far and away the most intriguing system! I would love to have a crack at playing around with one, without shelling out the $75-$125 to "test" it. Besides, my wife would kill me if I purchased something like this, but a man can wish!

I love Winamp and playing with the visualizations, especially MilkDrop. If the lights indeed worked with that, that alone would make it worth it. And I, too use VLC player, and you said its compatible as well and that's just gravy.

Hmmm.... how to sneak this past the wife?


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Old 10-01-2009, 03:30 PM   #11
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I love Winamp and playing with the visualizations, especially Milkdrop. If the lights indeed worked with that, that alone would make it worth it. And I, too use VLC player, and you said its compatible as well and that's just gravy.

Videos of amBX with Winamp + Milkdrop:

This is one of the sweetest amBX setups I've ever seen. It appears that he installed lights within completely around the room. One of the coolest parts about amBX is how customizable the lights are. The drivers allow you to do pretty much whatever setup you want with them.
View page
YouTube Video


This one also includes some keyboard mod. Not all that interesting, but it's a nice display of amBX and Milkdrop nonetheless.
View page
YouTube Video



An interesting thing to note is that for Milkdrop amBX appears to match the visualization on the screen almost perfectly, while for windows media player it matches along with the music (for instance that last video features a techno song with a pretty fast beat. The lights would be flashing and changing along with it, almost like a rave).



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Old 10-03-2009, 10:22 AM   #12
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I have no idea where you heard that.
It was many Amazon customer reviews for the system I was looking at when I wanted some new speakers (I got Logitech Z4 in the end) but to be fair it was a Phillips product so that could explain it.






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Old 10-03-2009, 11:54 PM   #13
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Hmmm, I see. I personally can't comment on the speakers. Like I said I already have a nice Logitech surround system, but from what I've heard they speakers "aren't bad." They say that they're actually pretty good, but the people who'd actually care (audiophiles like me) probably already have a better setup anyways, so they're in no way required for the rest of the kit to work.



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Old 10-09-2009, 01:30 AM   #14
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Sellout.woot has the starter kit available today for about $40 after tax + S&H. Almost tempted, but I feel if I was going to get it I might as well go full-out instead of buying things piecemeal.


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Old 10-09-2009, 12:07 PM   #15
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Sellout.woot has the starter kit available today for about $40 after tax + S&H. Almost tempted, but I feel if I was going to get it I might as well go full-out instead of buying things piecemeal.
Thanks for the info. I'm very tempted to get that...I don't really want the speakers (I can use my existing ones).

It also comes with 2 full games, which is nice (neither are really exciting imo but makes it quite a deal at $40).

Wait, this isn't the same starter kit as this one is it ? (http://www.amazon.com/Philips-SGC510.../dp/B000X4LR0U)

$40 vs $200...


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Old 10-09-2009, 12:14 PM   #16
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Whole shebang for $75 + 4 games

http://www.buy.com/prod/philips-ambx...211030493.html


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Old 10-10-2009, 07:58 PM   #17
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That's exactly what I got. Great deal and highly recommended. That's a fantastic price, and I've definitely got my money's worth.



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Old 10-10-2009, 08:35 PM   #18
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I had been going to go with the one on woot.com (I don't really need the speakers, I have a nice headset) but decided it didn't really seem worth it.

So your saying it's worth it? Does it add alot? I've heard the fans + rumble pad thing are annoying/don't work that well (eg. fans are delayed)...is this true?


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Old 10-10-2009, 08:54 PM   #19
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I already stated all of that in my earlier posts, but I suppose I'll reiterate for you here.

I was worried that the rumble pad would be annoying. After using it I don't think it is. If you don't like it then you can easily go into the driver settings and lower the intensity to about 50% and most people say that they find it quite enjoyable at that lower level.

The fans don't seem delayed to me. I have them sitting fairly close (within two feet) and think that it's pretty accurate, especially when you consider that air doesn't travel instantaneously in real life.



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Old 10-17-2009, 01:51 AM   #20
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The fans don't seem delayed to me. I have them sitting fairly close (within two feet) and think that it's pretty accurate, especially when you consider that air doesn't travel instantaneously in real life.
Well, that's pretty attractive for something so cheap. There *is* something to be said for not having to make, program, and sync your own microcontroller logic and then calibrating/optimizing your own custom fans to it... (not *even* going into case design considerations).

Besides, I think 12V 235CFM Comair Rotron fans might just be a tad excessive--but that's besides the point. lol

If there is any lag, what would you attribute it to and how much delay time would you say there is?
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Old 10-18-2009, 02:29 PM   #21
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If there's any lag for the fans it's just the split second that it takes for the air to reach you. They respond (i.e. start spinning) the moment they're supposed to.



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Old 10-18-2009, 04:31 PM   #22
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I don't get it.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:57 PM   #23
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The fans and rumble pad are interesting, but the lights are kinda pointless. All that would do for me is light up all the junk that's on my desk that I hide by turning the lights off when playing a game. Also, my walls are painted green.
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:34 PM   #24
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MMmm, yeah, green walls would kind of ruin the effect. Typically I keep my desk fairly clean, so I don't have that problem. The lights are my favorite part, by far. I actually feel.... empty, almost, when I play a game without them turned on.


Oh god I sound like a salesman.

>.<



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