Demonstrating Power-Grid With Our Custom Grid
So far you've seen screenshots and followed us through the theory, but now we'd like to show you a video of Roccat's Power-Grid in action using a Nexus 7 tablet. We're demonstrating some of the software's bundled applications and our custom-built Grid for Star Trek Online:
(You can download our Star Trek Online LCARS Grid for free from the Roccat Store)
As you can see, despite the fact that Power-Grid was in open beta, the software works the way we were expecting. It's quick and surprisingly responsive over Wi-Fi, it looks slick, it offers a lot of interesting functionality, and the potential for innovative community-built Grids is undeniable. On top of all that, Roccat is going to offer the basic version to the public for free. To be honest, even as a cynical journalist, it's difficult to find a convincing reason not to try Power-Grid out.
I'm not saying the software is perfect, mind you. I did encounter a bug that wouldn't let me apply custom sounds to my controls, and I also experienced occasional crashing in the Sound Control Grid when I skipped songs in a playlist. Having said that, the software is still being improved.
We could complain that the 4x5 control setup might make sense for a smartphone, while a tablet can handle many more buttons thanks to its larger screen. Roccat has mentioned that it plans to properly support tablets in the future, so the button size is a limitation that may be solved on devices with bigger screens. If this happens, a tablet may be a viable alternative to something like Optimus' Popularis customizable LCD keyboard.
When all is said and done, our greatest concern is this: will people actually use their smartphone as a PC input device, or will it be ignored in favor of the powerful mouse-and-keyboard combo that already exists in front of them? Will gamers find the extra controls useful or ignore them during actual play? Will the Power-Grid and mobile device combo end up being useful, or a one-time curiosity?
I ask this because, as much as I love the look and feel of Mad Catz' S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 keyboard, I haven’t been motivated to use the programmable Venom LCD touchscreen since reviewing it. Perhaps Power-Grid's flexibility will make the software more compelling; the idea of having my smartphone docked into a Phobo keyboard or Apuri 2.0 and acting as an on-demand trackpad is an appealing prospect. An active community can produce amazing things, too, so who knows what innovative Grids will appear now that it's in the public's hands?
But none of my misgivings are a good reason to avoid installing Roccat's Power-Grid software and giving it a spin, though, especially considering the basic version's free price tag. If you have the slightest interest in tinkering with software, you owe it to yourself to give Power-Grid a try now that it's an easy download.