- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2018

Here’s a look at a few of the best and brightest gift ideas for gamers.

Nitro 5

What is it? A very affordable gaming laptop
Price: $749
Gift group: Mobile warriors in love with virtual adventures

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Zadzooks 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Santa’s scoop: Acer’s matte black beauty offers a stylish angular and beveled dark chassis design that when opened and fired up reveals glowing, dark red Chiclet-shaped keys on the full keyboard and a red outlined touch pad.

The 15.6-inch, high-definition (1920x1080) screen, infused with FHD IPS tech, delivers crisp color arrays and clear wide viewing angles for audience members.

Under the hood, owners get an 8th Generation Intel CoreTM i5 8300H processor, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 2x2 802.11ac Gigabit connection, 8GB of DDR4 2400 MHz memory (expandable to 32GB) and a speedy 256GB PCIe SSD (solid state drive).

SEE ALSO: Holiday Gift Guide 2018 - Best in robots and interactive friends

Equally important are the internal dual fans using Acer Coolboost technology and an available app to help manage heat and keep the system running optimally during extended gaming sessions.

Onboard connections include a gigabyte Ethernet port, a USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen 1) port, a USB 3.0 port with power-off charging, two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI 2.0 port that can support up to 90 Hz refresh rates and an SD card reader.

Owners also get a 1280x720 web cam and two stereo speakers, but the Dolby optimized sound with surround virtualizer works best with headphones plugged in.

The laptop comes with the Windows 10 home operating system, weighs less than 6 pounds and offers roughly 5.5 hours of battery life on a single charge.

To sum up, lots of goodies to appreciate in Nitra 5 for the casual “Fort Night,” “Doom” and “League of Legends” player. Those running the game at settings to accomplish a sweet spot of 60 to 90 frames per second won’t be disappointed.


What is it? A heavy-duty video game controller for PlayStation 4 entertainment systems

Price: Starting at $199.95

Gift group: First-person shooting machines as well as gamers looking for finer control during virtual adventures

Santa’s scoop: Scuf’s latest helper for gamers riffs off of the Xbox One’s Elite model to offer a SnapTite-style solution to customizing its new controller, which features wired and wireless modes.

Specifically, almost all of the parts are easily swapped for upgrades, new colors or replacements including the magnetic faceplate (multiple colors available from silvery blue to pink), thumb sticks, anti-friction rings, triggers, directional pad, paddles, side buttons and even the vibration modules housed in the controller’s handles.

Also new, the triggers are now quickly adjustable using a tiny toggle switch to tweak pull depth. And, the magnetic remapping of the underneath paddles has been replaced with turning on a switch at the base and pressing the button and paddle to easily reconfigure.

Additionally, a pair of “sax” buttons are now on either side of the controller. It’s a totally unique idea that works nicely in tandem with the quartet of underneath paddles.

For example, reloading a weapon in games such as “Destiny” is now much more efficient by tapping a side button at an index finger joint while keeping my thumb focused on the main controller buttons.

Under the Vantage’s audio option, besides welcomed onboard speakers, players using the wired controller option are able to adjust sound when wearing a connected headset with a touch bar seated right by the 3.5mm jack.

The controller package comes with a travel case; 10-foot-long, super sturdy braided micro-USB cable; and an assortment of parts (extra domed and longer thumb sticks and longer triggers) as well as a few tools (one adjust trigger stops and tension) to tweak the controller’s design.

Scuf’s latest model won’t win any awards for style and its initial release (before a firmware upgrade) was a bit rough around the edges for some folks, but now it still makes a great gift for the serious gamer.

Let’s face it, most average players might never spend that much money for a controller, but I’ll guarantee that they will be giddy opening up a nicely wrapped box containing the Vantage.

As far as games worth appreciating with the Vantage, here’s a trio to consider as added stocking stuffers.

Dead Red Redemption 2 (Rock Star Games, rated M, $59.99) — From the makers of “Grand Theft Auto,” this epic Western adventure set in 1899 has a player control Arthur Morgan, the lead enforcer of the robbing and killing Van der Linde gang. Commit crimes and mayhem across large swaths of American landscapes, and find missions ranging hunting animals to cooking meals, robbing trains, tracking down debtors and attacking rival gang camps while avoiding bounty hunters and law enforcement.

Make sure your Vantage sax button get assigned to call a trusty horse and reload that deadly six-shooter.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Activision, rated E10+, $39.99) — Commemorating a legendary purple dragon’s appearance in video realms two decades ago, this collection offers fully remastered high-definition versions of “Spyro the Dragon,” “Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!” and “Spyro: Year of the Dragon.”

That translates into some surprisingly gorgeous visuals; all of the three-dimensional terrain and character models sport deep detail and colors now, while a single player controls the fire-breathing legend as it dives into platforming style adventures to explore kingdoms, rescue fellow dragons and collect sparkling gems and magical eggs.

Make sure to install the Vantage’s bigger thumb sticks to help younger fans easily direct this majestic beast on his missions.

Call of Duty: Black OPS 4 (Activision, rated M, $59.99) — One of the premiere first-person shooters returns to allow players to gorge in tactical, multiplayer firefights in more than a dozen maps set around the world.

Besides the core online matches and sans a solo campaign (a big “boo”), the game also includes a robust “Zombies” experience as up to four players co-operatively battle the dead on the RMS Titanic, in an ancient Roman arena and at Alcatraz Island.

And, new this year is “Blackout.” This battle royale-style mode allows up to four warriors to work together to fight other teams (100 players in total possible) on the biggest map in “Call of Duty” history – 1,500 times larger than the infamous Nuketown.

The Vantage was built for that competitive edge in first-person shooters. Align and remap all available triggers and those four paddles and two sax buttons in complement with both hands while taking part in hours of exhausting firefights.

Hitman 2 (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, rated M, $59.99) — Agent 47 is back in this multi-perspective shooter to cleverly assassinate any unlucky individuals assigned to his highly lucrative naughty list by the International Contract Agency.

A player uses a mix of stealth techniques, improvisation and plenty of high-caliber weaponry to take out targets across the globe while he hunts down the Shadow Client to learn about his mysterious past.

Take advantage of Vantage’s longer triggers for an itchy trigger finger and on the fly, headset volume control in the new co-operative “Sniper Assassin” mode.

Up to a pair of players are perched on the side of a mountain and tasked with taking out targets in a crowded mansion using long-range weapons in this time challenge.


What is it? A curved, 27-inch LED monitor
Price: $279.99
Gift group: Serious gamers in need of a near totally immersive experience to appreciate virtual adventures

Santa’s scoop: AOC Gaming’s budget-friendly display boasts 1920 x 1080 high-definition resolution, 16.7 million colors, a 16:9 aspect ratio and stylish design to offer a shapely package worthy of the gift-giving season.

Clocking in at a 144Hz refresh rate and featuring a direct current, backlit panel that reduces flicker and eye fatigue, both offers gamers an edge in extended multiplayer competitions, especially within the realms of high-speed racing and first-person shooting sessions.

The curved and near frameless design stylish design also allows for a multiple monitor set-up to literally become surrounded within a gaming experience.

Although the onscreen action looked great hooked into an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it will excel in PC realms, especially with AMD computers, thanks to its use of FreeSync technology to minimize image tearing or stuttering through dynamic refresh rates.

However to get that perfect, personalized visual experience, a collection of painfully difficult-to-navigate onscreen options offers a collection of gamer settings.

Accessed from a bottom screen button array, they include FPS (first-person shooter), RTS (real-time strategy) and Racing.

The ability to set up three image profiles that balance everything from color to pixel overdrive was also most welcomed.

Onboard connections include VGA, DisplayPort 1.2, a pair of HDMI 1.4 ports and a headphone jack (3.5mm) while the stand offers tilt and height adjustments. The monitor can also be hung on a wall with a VESA wall mount.

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