Though many people still scratch their head at the idea of watching people play video games, Twitch and its content creators have proven that the platform is attractive to (even beloved by) tens of millions of people.
Got a friend or loved one who believes they have the skill, personality and wide open schedule to be successful on Twitch? The right gift might get the ball rolling.
(Note: It should go without saying that there is one piece of gear that a Twitch streamer truly needs, and that’s a computer or console to play the game on. Generally, this will either be a gaming PC, a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One. Chances are if someone wants to stream games, they’ve already got a platform of choice, so we’re not going to go into detail on what type of PC or console to buy.)
The best place to start when investing in a streaming setup is the mic. Yes, webcams are important (and we’ll get to that), but it’s really taxing to listen to poor audio for any lengthy amount of time, and most gaming headphones just won’t cut it.
Our top choice for a reasonably priced, high-quality mic is the Blue Yeti Pro ($250). It’s a relatively simple plug-and-play product that sounds great. It supports both USB and XLR, giving users plenty of flexibility if they want to use it for multiple purposes (like, say, podcasting) or across various audio interfaces.
It’s not cheap — the Blue Yeti Pro costs $250 on Amazon — so folks looking for a less flexible mic that will simply work with a PC or console, the stepped-down Blue Mics Yeti ($130) should get the job done.
While the point of streaming is arguably to watch the game, and not the gamer, there is something special about seeing someone’s reactions to the game or to the Twitch chat on a stream.
General consensus among the community points to the Logitech C922 HD Pro Stream ($99). It captures 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps video and offers a 78-degree field of view, with particularly good low-light capabilities and solid autofocus. Oddly, streaming under the blue light of the monitor in complete darkness is pretty common, and this webcam can handle just that. As a bonus, the C922 offers background replacement, letting users green screen out everything behind the streamer to show even more of the game. The lower-cost alternative is the Logitech HD Pro C920 ($79), which doesn’t offer background replacement or some other bonus features, like 720p/60fps capture or autofocus.
The C922 also comes with a three-month free trial of XSplit (broadcasting software that will likely be necessary for PC gamers/streamers, but is less necessary for console streamers).
Most people think of a couch and a TV when they think of playing video games, but that is most certainly not ideal for a streamer. For one, where does the webcam go? Secondly, your vision just isn’t as good from 10 feet away on a 40-inch+ screen. Many pros tend to use a 24- to 27-inch monitor roughly two feet from their face — so sitting at a desk is often preferred.
Super high-performance gaming monitors are very expensive, and there are very real trade-offs each time the price comes down. But the ASUS VG245H ($190) is a solid contender at a reasonable price point, managing to pack a punch where it counts.
The 24-inch monitor comes with a TN type panel (which can wash out colors more than ISP) but has a 144Hz refresh rate at a 1920×1080 resolution. At $190 on Amazon, this monitor is a bargain.
Beyond strictly streaming equipment, there are plenty of gadgets that can take a skilled gamer to the next level. Here are a few suggestions:
A gamer that dominates the competition with entry-level inputs (be it a mouse or controller) will absolutely crush it with a gaming-specific mouse or controller.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to PC gaming mice — some think customization is king, while others are drawn to RGB lighting or wireless functionality. At the end of the day, personal preference plays a huge role. For folks switching over from a standard mouse, the best option might be the Finalmouse Ultralight Pro ($70).
It acts and feels like a standard mouse, but happens to be just 67 grams, with the Pixart pmw3360 eSports sensor, integrated illumination, enhanced tracking and a higher framerate. And as a bonus, this is the same mouse that streaming star Ninja uses. If it’s good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for your dear recipient.
For console gamers, there is a clear favorite if you’re looking to upgrade beyond the standard Xbox or PlayStation controller. Scuf Gaming controllers (starting at $150) allow players to use paddles on the underside of the controller. This means that gamers can use their middle and ring fingers instead of multitasking with their thumbs, meaning their thumbs never leave the joysticks.
Switching from standard headphones to high-quality gaming headphones feels like cheating. Suddenly, you can hear everything around you. I’ve personally played with a variety of headphones, and my favorite by a mile is the Astro A50 wireless headset with base station ($300). Tech specs aside, these are some of the most comfortable headphones out there, perfect for those hours-long streaming sessions.
For folks looking for something more affordable, Turtle Beach also has a nice selection of wireless headphones, including the Stealth 700 ($150).
Once they’re streaming, then what? The best thing you can do for your new favorite streamer is interact with their new channel. Subscribe. Watch the broadcast and chat in the stream. And if you have a little extra cash to spare, gift subs to the channel so folks who show up and want to subscribe have no barrier to entry when they get there.
10 Iconic Movie Cars That Weren’t Even Real
James Bond and cool cars together are the epitome of cool. The Bond franchise is famous for its car chases, extravagant crashes, and daring escapes. Six actors have portrayed agent 007 since 1963 and they have all driven a variety of cool cars, some of them equipped with space-age spycraft and defensive capabilities. The fifth Bond, Pierce Brosnan, drove one such cool car in The World is Not Enough, a BMW Z8. As an Englishman, Bond had historically driven English cars, like Aston Martin and Lotus, but a product tie-in with BMW in the nineties changed all that.
In this movie, we get to see Bond utilize some of the obligatory gadgets such as rocket launchers but also see a foretelling of things to come with a remote start and summon feature, something unheard of in 1999. However, something also unheard of is a 1999 Z8, because it did not exist until the 2000 model year. According to Top Gear, the production Z8 was not ready during filming, so BMW provided a couple of unfinished pre-production cars and gave producers specs to create other completely fabricated custom cars powered by a Chevy V8 with a Jaguar suspension for filming, particularly the scene where one gets sawed in half. The Z8 gets very little screen time in this movie, likely because they didn’t really have a complete car to work with.
Halo Infinite’s Campaign Co-Op Beta Kicks Off Soon
In the past, and in other major co-op games, playing co-op equals advancing the game only for the person who is hosting it. The other players join the game and progress for the host but are unable to retain that progress for their own saves, and they also cannot start up the game without the host being around to do it for them. It seems that with “Halo Infinite,” the developers behind the game wanted to take a different approach by making co-op progress accessible even after the gaming session is over. As Bender said, “One of our core principles is that we don’t want to require you to have an isolated co-op save.”
As a result of that new policy, every player’s progress is going to count toward their main playthrough. Any items, collectibles, achievements, and mission progress earned during a co-op session will carry over to an individual gamer’s save. There’s also a new approach referred to as “No Spartan Left Behind.” When you join a Fireteam and select your save slot, the game will look at mission completion across all the saves and then set up a game world for you and your friends. In that game world, any mission that has been completed will be marked as such, but only as long as every single member of the Fireteam will have it completed. If there’s even one person that hasn’t tackled it just yet, the mission will be incomplete for everyone in the co-op world.
Satechi USB-C Slim Dock For 24-Inch iMac Review: Fixing Shortcomings
There are plenty of iMac docks on the market today, especially after the launch of the 2021 M1 models. Part of the tradeoff for the computer’s gorgeously slim design is the dearth of ports, all of which are hidden behind its screen. But while many of these docks and hubs are advertised as compatible with the 24-inch iMac, Satechi’s new dock takes that to the extreme — in fact, the USB-C Slim Dock is designed only for the 24-inch M1 iMac. Sure, you could use it for other computers, but then you lose one of its biggest features.
That feature is actually the wide gap on its bottom that perfectly fits the base of the iMac. This makes the dock look almost like it’s part of the iMac itself, especially if you get matching colors. The dock also creates a wider base that you could put things on if you like. Either way, its exclusivity to the 2021 and 2022 M1 iMacs works in its favor, creating a seamless appearance that fits the machine perfectly.
Whether you match colors or not, the Satechi USB-C dock matches the build quality of the iMac it sits on. Made from durable aluminum, the accessory looks premium and stylish, adding some character to your desk just as much as the iMac does. The material also makes heat dissipation more effective, which comes in handy given its hidden superpower. If there’s one disappointing aspect of the dock, it would be that it’s available only in silver and blue colorways that won’t color match all the available iMac hues.
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