The idea of a portable PC gaming system that could handle a wide range of games and operating systems is an attractive one. But a recent Kickstarter that claims it can deliver such a product should be taken with an extremely large grain of salt.
At first glance, the Portable Game System for PC games (PGS), by PGS Labs, looks as if it ticks all the right boxes. It’s intended to boot both Windows 10 and Android Lollipop, and it claims it can handle streaming from other devices. The team behind the project claims to have done their initial testing on a Cherry Trail-equipped Surface 3 before settling on baseline specifications. The PGS, they say, will ship in two flavors: The PGS Lite will feature a 5.5-inch screen, 1280×720 resolution, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, while the PGS Hardcore will feature a 5.7-inch screen, 2560×1440 resolution, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The price on these two systems is supposedly $230 and $280, respectively, if you opt for Early Bird pricing.
Here’s where the problems start. The Atom x7-Z8750 microprocessor at the heart of the PGS is only capable of playing a handful of last-generation titles at sub-30 FPS frame rates. While some games, like Arkham City, can reportedly average 26-32 FPS at medium settings, most are confined to minimal graphics — and that’s according to PGS’s own testing. What an independent review would reveal is anyone’s guess, but the Atom microprocessor isn’t known for having much graphics horsepower and there’s no special sauce here that would change that. You can play certain games on an Atom SoC, but not many, and not well.
Even if the low game detail levels and rock-bottom frame rates aren’t enough to put you off, the list of claimed features should ring warning klaxons. PGS claims it will implement dual booting of both Android and Windows operating systems, despite the fact that both Microsoft and Google have expressed a distinct lack of interest for such configurations. Again, this type of dual-boot configuration may be technically possible, but it’s scarcely an option that Microsoft or Google are going to want to support.
PGS also claims that it’ll support streaming from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well as other PCs. Xbox One and PC is a given, but the PS4? That’s not happening without Sony’s buy-in, and so far, Sony has yet to announce any partnerships with third-party would-be console “developers” with a Kickstarter campaign and delusions of grandeur. PGS also mentions LTE support — but again, that implies that the company is partnering with a US carrier to provide LTE connectivity. That’s not a trivial feature to add. It can take six months or more for companies like AT&T or Verizon to perform network testing, and it’s not an inexpensive process.
The other features, like a secondary display mode, are easy to promise on paper, but ensuring that both displays function properly in the wide variety of PC titles takes extensive testing and troubleshooting — neither are capabilities that PGS has demonstrated the slightest ability to provide. And while $230 and $280 may be early bird pricing, the $100K initial fund is ludicrously low for a console system like this.
The long and short is this: However nice it might be to have a portable PC gaming experience, this would-be device isn’t going to provide it. No no-name initiative from a random group of inventors based on Kickstarter funding ever could. This kind of project would require a deep lift from a company vested in the Microsoft ecosystem — not what we’ve got here.