E3: Mac gaming and iPod accessories abound

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles wasn’t just for video game consoles and PC games — also exhibiting were a number of vendors selling Mac-compatible products that improve the gaming experience.

Razer USA showed off its new Diamondback Plasma, a high-precision 1600 dot-per-inch (DPI) optical mouse especially designed for gamers. The mouse features a nonslip surface and a total of seven programmable buttons and a mouse wheel. A hallmark of Razer’s mice has been the programmable software that comes with it, but it’s been Windows-only. Razer president Robert Krakoff confirmed with MacCentral that a Mac version is in development and should be released soon. The company plans to show off its Mac offerings during July’s Macworld Conference & Expo in Boston, Mass.

Pyramat showed off its latest sound furniture. The company’s PM 300 Sound Lounger is a cushioned mat that includes built-in speakers, subwoofer and amplifier. You can hook it up to your Mac, gaming console or home entertainment system and enjoy the thumping bass of explosions and machine gun fire as you hammer away playing your favorite first-person shooter on your Mac. Later this year the company will introduce a leather-clad rocker chair based on the same concept that combines a cool, modern lounge look with big speakers and an built-in sub — perfect for a home entertainment theater or gaming room.

Logitech is offering up a broad line of Mac and PC-compatible game hardware, including joysticks, gamepads and more. The company has also diversified into iPod accessories with its MM22 speaker system.

Nyko recently began shipping its Air Flo EX — a wired gamepad with built-in fans to keep your hands dry while you play. The company includes programmable Mac software that lets you customize it for the games you enjoy. Later this year they’ll introduce a wireless version of the Air Flo EX that’s Mac and PC-compatible, as well. Future products also include Movie Player for iPod — a 3.6-inch LCD screen and stereo speaker system that includes a rechargeable lithium ion battery. With it you can watch movies and view digital photos or other digital media; it’s compatible with all full-size iPods and iPod minis. Nyko also recently began shipping the iTop, a button relocator for iPods that makes it easier to change tracks, play and pause without removing your iPod from a jacket pocket or carrying case.

Prima Games is a major vendor of strategy guides for video and computer games, including many of the A-list titles brought to the Macintosh by Mac-specific publishers like MacSoft, Aspyr Media and Feral Interactive.

DreamGear is a company better known for its line of console gamepads, but the company is moving into the Apple market with a new portable speaker line called iSound. iPod shuffle users may be particularly interested in the iSound Tripod, a foldaway portable four-driver speaker system that incorporates a leg with a built-in hollow that connects the shuffle. Coming soon from DreamGear is the iSound Max, a ported four-speaker portable speaker system that features metal grill, digital volume control and bass enhancement.

PistolMouse maker MonsterGecko LLC is developing a new wireless gaming gun that’s ideal for first person shooters — the next generation of the “lightgun” device that’s been made for consoles for years. Using an embedded gyro mechanism the gun senses its orientation and lets you fire and look on-screen just as you would a mouse. Unlike a lightgun, which requires a CRT-based screen in order to work, the new peripheral works with any screen — an HDTV plasma display, projector, or even a new Apple Cinema Display. MonsterGecko plans a 2006 release, with support for multiple platforms including Mac OS X.

CH Products’ line of USB joysticks, yokes and controls are just the thing X-Plane enthusiasts looking to outfit their systems with realistic interfaces.

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