For years, the holy grail of gaming has been the opportunity to take your sessions ‘on the go’, allowing us to take our gaming habits wherever we desire.
Yes, ever since the GameBoy dropped all those decades ago the chance has been there for gamers to move from place to place with their gaming experience intact. But until the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, proper console gaming has been confined to the living room, bedroom, or man cave. GAEMS are attempting to change that though, and with the Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment, they have very nearly succeeded.
The GAEMS Personal Gaming Environment follows on from previous GAEMS products like the Vanguard to deliver something pretty special. You see, gone are the days when you find your Xbox One or PS4 gaming sessions interrupted by a holiday, a spell in a hotel, or, worse still, when your other half demands use of the only television in the house. With a quick installation process, your full on console gaming time can be taken from place to place, with just the need of an external power socket or two the only thing stopping you from getting your hit for the day.
From the get-go, the Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment looks like a big black hefty armoured briefcase, with a well positioned, highly prominent GAEMS logo adorning both the top and bottom sides. With a flip up kickstand in place – again logo’d up – and a spring loaded handle ensuring that safety is a gimme, this big slab of black beauty will rarely let anyone other than those proper gamers know what is going on inside.
Upon opening the Sentinel up though – with the careful flick of two simple catches – the magic begins to slowly unfold, and with the top half of the Sentinel housing a brilliant 17.3 inch Full HD LED display, hex styled cutouts fronting the stereo speakers, and enough tactile buttons to ensure that when it is up and running, your gaming experience is just as good as it would be on the big screen.
Accompanying this upper part of the Sentinel and the lower section is well kitted out to ensure your beloved console is kept from harm. A well padded foam base is topped with a couple of tight velcro covered straps, and by placing your Xbox One X, Xbox One S, PS4 Pro or PS4 between the two, tightening with ease in the process, your mobile gaming unit will be complete. With the straps tightened, closing the Sentinel over the console and carrying it around is a cinch, with just the 7.3kg weight of the Sentinel plus your Xbox One X the only thing holding you back. Yes, that may seem pretty heavy, but the premium consoles we have come to love come with a bit of a weight issue, and there isn’t much GAEMS can do with that. In fact, the 3.7kg weight of an empty Sentinel is pretty darn decent. Not that you’ll ever be found carrying it around without a console in it.
Once that console is in situ, the included HDMI cable attaches the gaming machine to the Sentinel, with a power adapter powering the unit and your usual cable offering plugged into your console. This is quite possibly the biggest downside of the Sentinel and it would be much preferred if the console within could be powered in some way through the Sentinel, doing away with the need to carry another power plug. Yes, I guess the variety of machines which can be strapped in tight to this beast of a Personal Gaming Environment would mean that is a tough ask, but having to find two spare plug sockets is occasionally tricky business. It’s nice however for GAEMS to include a handy little carry bag along with the Sentinel though; throwing all the required cables and controllers into that ensures nothing should get lost.
Anyways, should that power supply problem not be an issue and you’ve got your console firmly attached to the Sentinel, from there on out it could well be said that this lovely piece of kit allows for some brilliant gaming opportunities.
As you would expect from the Full HD 1920 x 1080p anti-glare IPS screen, the visual quality found when you are gaming through the Sentinel is great. Okay, so we don’t quite get the 4K experience, but GAEMS are already halfway to fighting that battle with the Kickstarting progress of their next Gaming Environment, the Guardian. In the meantime though, if you can make do with good old 1080p, you’ll be well impressed with the screen quality – both when inside or when you venture outside for some al fresco gaming. The fact that an on-screen menu system will allow you to play around with multiple aspect ratios, colour effects, temperatures, RGB settings, and the usual brightness, contrast, sharpness and saturation options, and it’s fairly simple to find a visual clarity that you can call home. These can either be amended using the menu buttons attached to the Sentinel direct, or, if you would prefer, via the remote control, too.
Viewing angles are pretty decent as well and, while it is hugely preferred for you to be sitting right in front of the Sentinel, unless you somehow find yourself plonked to one side of the case the screen looks very good indeed, with all required details well acknowledged.
It’s not just about the visuals though and I’ve been massively impressed with the sound that the Sentinel offers, with booming base, crisp tones and everything in between delivered via the chambered speaker system. It gets loud too – especially when you ramp the volume right up – with little distortion from the in-house speakers ever heard. It’s nice to see two 3.5mm headphone jacks included just below the screen too, appealing to those who don’t game alone, or who prefer to immerse themselves fully in what is ahead with a set of cans.
As you would expect, the gaming from there on out is of the usual quality that any modern day gamer is used to. I’ve run through a variety of Triple A and Indie titles throughout my time with the Sentinel and not once have I experienced any noticeable lag between console inputs and what is replicated on screen. It’s a little bit of a pain having to go through the long boot time of Xbox One after first having plugged it in, however that’s not a problem that GAEMS can solve, and every now and then a bit of patience in life should be allowed.
So, the GAEMS Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment… is it any good? Well, it’s doesn’t come cheap and the £379.99 price point that is in tow will certainly put many off. But if you’re one of those people who find their life throws them from pillar to post, moving about from one place to the next multiple times in a week and you just can’t do without your console, then that price point won’t be of any significance. After all, gaming is life and life is gaming, and the Sentinel ensures that the two are able to be embraced better than ever. Granted, if you’re looking for a way to just game at home when the main TV is out of action, then purchasing a smaller TV is going to be a hell of a lot cheaper. But then you won’t have the flexibility that the GAEMS Sentinel offers. That all means that at the end of the day it’s a completely personal judgement as to whether this will be for you. Personally, now I’ve used one, I’m not sure how I’d be able to get through a holiday without taking it along for the ride!
The holy grail of gaming has been discovered, and GAEMS have managed to pull one out of the bag with the Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment.
Massive thanks go out to GAEMS for providing the Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment for review purposes. If you wish to pick on up, head on over to GAEMS direct.
Related: Unboxing and first look at the GAEMS Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment