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Android Tablet Gaming: SteelSeries’ Debuts New Direction At CES

SteelSeries seems to be embracing the burgeoning mobile gamer market as it shows off a host of new peripherals that move from traditional console gaming to mobility, including lightweight headsets and Android-ready game controllers.

One of their biggest new products is their smallest – the Ion Wireless Controller for tablets and smartphones.

This universal gaming controller that the company spruiks as “about the size of a deck of cards” comes from a bit of wireless control tech the company has licensed from Zeemote Technology.

With a similar layout to most console controllers including d-pad, trigger buttons and a four button layout on the right-hand side, the controller fits the typical mould.

The controller is wireless with a rechargeable lithium battery and connects via Bluetooth. Controls can be customised on PCs and mobile devices.

SteelSeries’ new line of tablet-centric products aim to capitalise on full-featured games popping up on more powerful tablets and smartphones outside of the popular Angry Birds and Words With Friends touch-friendly variety.

“Whether you’re sling shooting birds or playing a word game with friends, there are games that are ideal for touch screen. Those types of games however, are not the only games available,” said the company’s CEO, Bruce Hawver.

“There are a number of first-person shooter and RTS games that aren’t downloaded or played as frequently as they could be, because the touch screen doesn’t provide an optimal experience. The SteelSeries Ion provides the advantage for those types of games.”

Zeenote and SteelSeries have just announced their partnership and the finished product won’t be available to consumers until Q3 2012.

Slated for an earlier release in Q2 is the Flux travel-friendly headset that comes in one of the company’s smallest form factors so far. Typically shipping out full-sized headsets, the Flux comes in a much skinnier form factor that folds up.

It features a uni-directional microphone with mute controls so the device can be used for gaming or for making calls when snapped onto a smartphone. The headsets can ‘daisy chain’ onto other Flux headsets via two input jacks on the two sides of the headset, so multiple users can listen to the same source (though may look strange tethered together in public).

The company has also refreshed its standard headset offerings, with a slight remodelling of the constantly cosmetically-tweaked Siberia headset.

There’s also a remodelling of the ambidextrous mouse design seen earlier in the SteelSeries Sensei, with the new mouse dubbed Kana, followed by the plainly designed Kinzu V2.