Today we tried out the Asus PrimeSense camera, or Asus WAVI Xtion to give it its full, awful name. Given that PrimeSense provided the hardware behind Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller for Xbox 360, it’s easy to see Asus’ model as a PC based rival with no hacking required. Is it? Read on, find out, and see the video.
At a glance, we must admit that both are very similar indeed. While the Asus PrimeSense camera is considerably smaller than Kinect (it’s lacking an RGB camera, mic and movement motors), there’s something ever so familiar about the design, something that becomes even more obvious in the software we saw it running.
Hold your hand over a large square tile for a while to trigger a selection? That’s how you navigate around using the Asus PrimeSense camera. Calibrate and see your body’s outline in a window in the bottom right hand corner? Yup, that’s another thing it shares with Kinect.
But there are some crucial differences, and we must admit, gaming aside, the Asus PrimeSense camera has the potential for seamless media watching from the comfort of your sofa, and to even better Kinect. You see, it comes in two parts: one that hooks up to a Windows PC, and streams content via wireless HDMI to the second part, the camera hooked into your TV.
Read our Microsoft Kinect review now
You can play games – we were treated to a demo involving a green monster whirring swords matching your arms’ flailing. And the movements were closely in sync. People moving in front didn’t drop the connection, though calibration time definitely seemed longer than we’re used to with Kinect.
But the really exciting aspect of the Asus PrimeSense camera is the ability to pull up your own media with a wave of your arm. That’s right: not what’s available on Zune, Sky Player or Last.fm, but your own pictures and videos on your own hard driven, easily Kinect’s most glaring omission. You can scroll through endless thumbnails of your piccies at speed, and because the connection is via wireless HDMI, crispy sharp movies at the wave of a hand should be no trouble either.
One crucial missing aspect however is that the Asus PrimeSense camera is not capable of voice control as Kinect is. This was entirely Microsoft’s input in Kinect, and Asus doesn’t look to have included it here, instead opting for a not particularly wieldy on screen QWERTY keyboard.
We’re told the Asus PrimeSense camera is out before July, with an estimated price of around $199.99 (£130). Which, conveniently, is exactly what Kinect costs. So, which will you be buying?