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Roccat Power-Grid: Turn Your Smartphone Into A PC Peripheral

Roccat Power-Grid: Turn Your Smartphone Into A PC Peripheral
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Roccat's Power-Grid allows your smartphone or tablet to be used as a programmable PC peripheral interface device. We took the beta version through its paces to show you what the software can do, and how easy it is to create your own custom interface!

Controlling your PC from a smartphone is certainly not a new idea. I've used remote desktop software like Splashtop to save my butt on more than one occasion, allowing me to access critical information on my home computer from a wireless device. A number of mobile applications, like MSI's Afterburner APP for Android and iOS, are designed to interface with PC hardware. There are even apps designed to turn your device into a game controller by harnessing your phone's G-sensors to act like a Wii remote.

While appearing unrelated at first glance, PC peripheral interfaces that make use of LCD screens with fully customizable graphics are more accessible than ever before; consider Mad Catz' impressive S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 keyboard and its cool VENOM TFT-LCD touchscreen and user-programmable game profiles. Another product that comes to mind is the ~$1000 Optimus Popularis keyboard that lets you display a custom image on an LCD screen behind every single key.

Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7

Someone at Roccat got the idea to bring all of this functionality together in a single application for smartphones and tablets. The software, which is called Power-Grid, allows users to control their PCs with a mobile device over a LAN using Wi-Fi. It was just released to the public, but we've been playing with the beta version for some time now in preparation.

The Oculuis PopularisThe Oculuis Popularis

At first glance, it seems a little out of place for the company: why would a PC peripheral hardware company want to get involved in mobile phone software? But consider the number of PC users that have a smartphone; instead of purchasing a separate, expensive peripheral device with customizable LCD display, what if you could just leverage your phone or tablet to get the job done? The potential is undeniable, and the best part is that Roccat wants to deliver the basic software for free with four start-up-tab slots for applications (called Grids). This means that users will have access to all sorts of basic functionality and custom application controls without paying a cent. Premium features and the ability to have more Grids (applications) available at the same time will cost extra.

On top of charging for premium software features, Roccat is bringing new hardware to market that is designed to augment and support your smartphone as a PC interface device. The new Phobo keyboard has a built-in smartphone dock that charges your phone and lets you take calls via your gaming headset, while the Apuri 2.0 is built to hold and charge your smartphone as an interface device beside your existing keyboard. Both products are expected to launch after Q4 of 2013.

The Roccat Phobo Keyboard With Smartphone DockThe Roccat Phobo Keyboard With Smartphone Dock

As for smartphone support, Roccat is currently supporting iOS- and Android-based devices, though we're hearing that a Windows Phone version is in development. The company also plans to support tablets in a more official contest. We're already running the Android app on a Google Nexus 7 tablet with no problems at all.

The Roccat Apuri 2.0 Smartphone DockThe Roccat Apuri 2.0 Smartphone Dock

That’s enough background; let's look at the Power-Grid app, starting with the basic bundled Grids. After that, we'll look at some of the extra Grids made by Roccat and the beta testing community. Finally, we'll show you how easy it is to make a custom Grid for any application you like.

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  • 3 Hide
    eldragon0 , October 28, 2013 3:49 AM
    Give me this, but over the usb cable and I'll be very happy.
  • -3 Hide
    spookyman , October 28, 2013 6:36 AM
    hmm well dont think it would fit a Note 2.
  • -3 Hide
    qlum , October 28, 2013 6:40 AM
    Or my note 3 for that matter. I do however think that I could use the gameklip I ordered as a stand. Or just some other stuf in my room. It is not that hard.
  • 0 Hide
    gijoe50000 , October 28, 2013 7:55 AM
    Just set it up there now, AWESOME!! And very quick too...
  • -1 Hide
    heero yuy , October 28, 2013 8:19 AM
    so do I have to buy one of these roccat keyboard thingys or can I just install an app on my phone and go from there?
  • -1 Hide
    OcelotRex , October 28, 2013 8:27 AM
    Quote:
    so do I have to buy one of these roccat keyboard thingys or can I just install an app on my phone and go from there?


    I too want to know this. I am in the process of building a lap desk to use for my KB/Mouse setup to the HTPC. My plan was to use a automotive dashboard mount for my Note 2 or Nexus 7 to have on the lapdesk to surf the web or use skype with. If this software works independently without hardware that'd be great.
  • -5 Hide
    razor512 , October 28, 2013 9:30 AM
    that is the worst thing you can do to a smartphone (short of just smashing it). All of the wide viewing angle displays (IPS like technology) get burnings if static content is displayed for too long and it eventually becomes permanent (just like with an HDTV)

    I would consider a product like this only useful if you have an old first gen android smartphone or an old windows mobile 2003 pocket PC or other old device to use with it and be compatible.

    A person doing something like using their iphone 5 for this will be very sad when they see the screen burn-in.

    These issues will not happen within a short while, but over time you will start to get burn in issues that won't go away.
  • 0 Hide
    heero yuy , October 28, 2013 9:41 AM
    where can I get the mass effect and crunchyroll grids? I cannot find them :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    gadgety , October 28, 2013 12:17 PM
    "instead of purchasing a separate, expensive peripheral device with customizable LCD display, what if you could just leverage your phone or tablet to get the job done?" Yes, I've been looking to get a CPU temperature, and fan and pump controller software. Found something called PC-monitor which is available for iOS, Android and and Windows Phone. Apparently there's something called Server control as well. Haven't used either, but really looking for these kinds of solutions, utilizing the power resident in the phone.
  • 0 Hide
    psycher1 , October 28, 2013 2:45 PM
    Cant get it to connect. Any network oriented dudes out there that can help me find out what's up?
    My PC is wired to the router, don't know why that would hurt but it's the only thing I can think. Otherwise, got my LAN and WAN IP addresses, but the phone can't find either.
  • 0 Hide
    Shankovich , October 28, 2013 3:41 PM
    Innovation, gotta love it. Yes people, this is what happens where companies dare to let their designers try new things. Lovin it!
  • 0 Hide
    ingtar33 , October 28, 2013 5:40 PM
    very cool. going on my smartphone tonight.
  • 0 Hide
    heero yuy , October 29, 2013 3:38 AM
    psyche you need to find out what your internal IP address is (my laptop for example is 192.168.1.101) and you type that In when you press scan
  • 0 Hide
    heero yuy , October 29, 2013 3:39 AM
    if sliders are put in for use in games like X3 :o 
  • 0 Hide
    rd1 , October 29, 2013 5:08 AM
    Well this sounds like a nice bit of software, you made me curious about it and want to try it.

    Also cool Trek wall Don.
  • 0 Hide
    monsta , October 29, 2013 7:21 AM
    This is really cool , good to see its for both iOS and Android
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , October 30, 2013 11:17 AM
    Actually this could be good! Use your phone (or even better you tablet) as an touch based device to use your computer. If this could just copy the UI of the main computer, this could be guite usefull. If it is just a device to use with some "key" aplications... not so interesting...
  • 0 Hide
    skine , October 30, 2013 7:16 PM
    So, I've tested it out a little bit.

    The system stats are useful, and the Sound Control isn't bad either. Above that, I don't really see much utility.

    The only games I have that have custom grids on their website are Skyrim and Civ V. For Skyrim, I played for about an hour without using the app once. With Civ V, it did alright, but after about ten minutes, my phone reset, then after a few more minutes, the connection dropped, and I went back to mouse only.

    The VLC remote works well, and I can see it being used as a remote for an HTPC. Well, except for the fact that there are only basic controls, meaning that you need a mouse to select the file or disc, and, in the case of a DVD, select play.

    Some people have asked about how to get it. It's free on the Google Play store, and you can get the Windows app from their website, also free. You need both for it to work.

    Overall, it's an interesting thing to play with, but I don't really see myself using it much in the future.
  • 0 Hide
    larsoncc , November 1, 2013 2:46 PM
    I'd love to see something like this in the context of a living room user - the Skype "Answer Call" function seems like a great thing to have - no alt-tabbing out of a game needed.
  • 0 Hide
    Heironious , November 2, 2013 2:23 AM
    You guys don't need that keyboard and crap. It's an APP on the APP stores. Just download it to your computer and your iphone / android, then sync them. It just uses your cell phones wi -fi or internet to communicate with each other. I use this to see my CPU usage in BF 4. I am close, but not CPU bound yet. 70 - 90%

    http://power-grid.roccat.org/en/Download/
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