Razer is taking pre-orders for its $100 “Forge TV” Android TV gaming player, with options including a gaming controller, keyboard, and PC streaming service.
Razer announced its Razer Forge TV back at CES in January, where it won eight awards including Engadget’s People’s Choice award for Best of CES 2015. Razer opened pre-sales for the Android TV compatible Forge TV on Amazon.com earlier this month, and has now opened direct pre-orders from its website, with shipments due May 5.
Razer Forge TV, front and back
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The Razer Forge TV follows Google’s Intel Atom-based Nexus Player Android TV set-top, built by Asus, as well as French IPTV provider Free’s Freebox Mini 4K Android TV set-top box. (The Freebox Mini 4K shipped in late March, but according to a GNT report [translated], the device suffers from bugs and has required multiple firmware updates.)
The Razer Forge TV competes most directly with Nvidia’s new $199 STB version of its Nvidia Shield, which runs Android TV on a Tegra X1 SoC and is expected to ship in May. Like the Nvidia Shield, The Razer Forge TV is a gaming-oriented device that does double duty as an Android TV media player.
Razer Serval controller
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In a $150 bundle that includes its “Razer Serval” controller, Razer’s Forge TV is $50 cheaper than the Nvidia Shield, but has a less powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 system-on-chip compared to the Shield’s 64-bit octa-core Nvidia Tegra X1. While the capable Snapdragon 805 provides four, 2.5GHz Krait 450 cores that are roughly equivalent to Cortex-A15 cores, plus an the latest Adreno 420 GPU, the Tegra X1 combines four 64-bit Cortex-A57 and four Cortex-A53 cores with 256 high-powered Maxwell GPU cores.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 block diagram
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The Forge TV stands out with a $40 option called “Cortex: Stream” that lets you stream “your entire library” of games from a PC via WiFi or Ethernet with low latency and at up to 1080p, says Razer. Due later this year, Cortex: Stream promises to automatically adjust the resolution according to the whims of your WiFi connection so you’re not left stuttering while the zombies attack.
Cortex: Stream is actually more of a separate product than an option. Although it’s optimized for the Razer Forget TV it can stream PC content to the TV via any Android 5.0 or higher device. The technology is said to support all DirectX9 games and above.
Razer Forge TV also acts as a standard Android TV media player, and supports features like Google Voice Search. Like the Shield, it also supports Google Cast technology, letting you cast content from your phone to the TV via the device just as you would with a Chromecast dongle. The device ships with three games preloaded: Modern Combat 5: Blackout, BombSquad, and Age of Zombies.
Forge TV hardware
The 105 x 105 x 17mm Razer Forge TV runs the Android 5.0 “Lollipop” powered Android TV platform with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. The box ships with 802.11ac 2×2 and Bluetooth 4.1, as well as a gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 1.4 output, and a USB 3.0 port.
By comparison, the larger (210 x 130 x 25mm) 2015 version of the Nvidia Shield has similar specs, but bumps the RAM to 3GB, offers a second USB 3.0 port, and adds a micro-USB 2.0 port and a microSD slot. The Shield’s controller uses WiFi Direct instead of Bluetooth.
The Razer Forge TV is available with a “Razer Serval” gaming controller that costs $80 on its own, but only an extra $50 when bundled with the Forge TV. Up to four of the Bluetooth-enabled controllers can be used at once for multi-player gaming.
The controller is equipped with four “Hyperesponse” ABXY action buttons, as well as a D-pad, analog sticks, two triggers, and other Android navigation buttons. The Serval’s adjustable clip lets you play Android games off of a cellphone instead of using the Forge TV attached TV. There’s also a micro-USB to USB connection if Bluetooth isn’t doing it for you.
Razer is also preparing a Bluetooth-enabled Razer Turret gaming keyboard/mouse combo with a 3500 dpi sensor and an integrated magnetic mouse mat. This “coming soon” add-on has yet to be priced.
Razer’s Forge TV promotional video
The Razer Forge TV is available for pre-order at Amazon.com or the Razer store, with shipments due May 5. Prices start at $100 for the Forge TV alone, or $150 in a bundle that includes the Razer Serval controller (normally $80).
The Razer Turret gaming keyboard has yet to be priced, and the pricing for the Cortex: Stream PC-to-TV streaming game service, which is due later this year, is unclear. The Razer website lists a flat $40, but Engadget suggests that this is a yearly subscription, and other reports have stated it comes standard with the $150 bundle, even if won’t ship until later this year.