Be ghost (in a good way).
By Whitson Gordon
Gaming delivery services, such as Parsec, Shadow, and NVIDIA's GeForce solution, all aim to integrate the graphic beauty of PC gaming into your other devices, even if they do not have hardware. caliber. The box Ghost (see on the Shadow website), valued at $ 139.99, aims in particular to replace your gaming PC by allowing you to play any game on a tiny low-power box, with 1080 level GTX graphics.
Ghost Shadow Game Streaming Box – Design and Features
The Ghost has a rather unique shape, with a curved, wave-like shape factor, with some 3D polygonal flourishes on the bottom. It consists of a single triangular power button on the front and a rear I / O with a gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a 3.5 headphone jack mm and a plug for the supplied AC adapter. Inside, it also features Dual Band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 technology, if you want to use Bluetooth compatible joysticks. Once lit, it emits a rather bright red light that emits a background light that gives a very "gamer", although I would say it's a little too loud, especially if you play at night. There is, however, no electrical tape or some LightDims.
Blade, the company that developed the Ghost, claims to have designed the case so that it is small and portable (about 7 x 5 x 2 inches), lightweight (weighing 7 ounces), quiet (thanks to its ARM processor and its cooling without fan), and energy efficient (consumes about 5 W of power playing, instead of the 150 W or more that we see on many gaming PCs). Their marketing boasts of saving energy, but in the end, we are probably talking about tens of dollars over the long term, not hundreds of dollars, depending on where you live and the cost of electricity.
But Ghost is not really about hardware. This is the Shadow software that manages your games on a server and sends them to your Ghost as streaming video. You pay $ 35 a month and simply connect a mouse, keyboard and / or joystick to the Ghost. The entries are sent back to the host PC, which runs an 8-thread Intel Xeon processor, an NVIDIA GTX 1080 (or Quadro equivalent), 12 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and a senseless Internet connection. Since the host PC is connected to Shadow's gigabit Internet, your games are downloaded to the host in minutes, so you can play immediately (with your Steam Cloud backups, nothing less). If you install and reinstall many games, it's great.
At the time of writing these lines, Shadow is available in all states of the United States, with the exception of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah , Wyoming, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Alaska, and Hawaii, although Shadow says they go to the island. 39, nationally. soon. Shadow is also available on most major platforms, including Windows, MacOS, Linux (in alpha), Android and iOS. So when you're done playing on your Ghost, you can go back to where you left off. any device. I've tested the service on the Ghost, as well as on several Windows computers and my iPad, and the service was pretty consistent on all computers (at least on my home network).
Shadow Ghost – Software
Shadow software, similar on all desktop platforms (Windows, macOS and Ghost), presents you with a dark window containing some options to customize your connection. You can set your bandwidth so that it knows how much to compress the video stream, as well as to adjust the video codec and color rendering. (Desktop platforms offer more experimental options, while the Ghost is a bit lacking.) If you connect the Ghost to your TV, you will want to follow the best practices you would follow on any other PC, like setting up your computer. Switch from TV mode to game, name the input "PC" so that it is not too much scanned and make sure that the color rendering matches your TV (Full RGB or RGB Limited) so that everything goes well. It took a bit of tweaking to make everything perfect for my TV, but once I did it, everything went as planned.
Unfortunately, the Ghost does not work very well as a lounge TV, at least as far as the connection process is concerned. There's no way to control anything with a joystick. So it's clear that Shadow expects you to use a keyboard and a mouse – or at least sit in front of your TV every time that you turn on the box. I also had problems with the checkbox "Remember my information" on the login page: the Ghost constantly disconnected me from my account the day I returned the next day, and I had to enter my password and connect to everyone. again. The transition to the beta client, an option available to all users, solved the problem, but it is clear that Blade users are still working on some issues. (I've also had some random errors that required a difficult restart, and one of those errors was in French.)
Once you've logged in and clicked the big Start button, you start on your virtual machine and start using Windows like any other PC. You can browse the web, install apps, connect to Steam or similar services, play games you own, or buy new ones. This contrasts sharply with some other streaming game services, such as GeForce Now, which only broadcasts the game as such, and only for games that it specifically supports (there are workarounds, but your mileage may vary). With Shadow, you have a complete Windows PC, which is much more flexible.
Shadow Ghost – Games
When Shadow works, it's great. Ghost cabling with my 100 megabit Ethernet connection enabled a seamless 1080p experience with ultra-fast graphics at 60 frames per second. (The Ghost also supports 144Hz frequency in 1080p, although I do not have a compatible monitor to test this particular configuration.) The graphics are not as sharp as on a PC equipped with a GTX 1080, video compression. is somewhat noticeable (or very noticeable, if your connection is slower), but it's better than, for example, to play the game natively on a poor-quality laptop.
A 100 megabit Internet connection over Ethernet allowed for a seamlessly smooth 1080p experience, with ultra-fast graphics at 60 frames per second.
The entry delay varies depending on your response time to Shadow's servers, and I've seen that described by other users as going from 'imperceptible' to 'unreadable'. I have not noticed any noticeable gaps on my connection, but again, I also prefer to play with V-Sync enabled – so if this statement confuses you, the game in the cloud may not be for you for # 39; s time.
Going from 1080p to 4K was a mixed bag. Even if I adjusted the game parameters enough to get 60 frames per second in the game statistics, the movement was much more agitated than 1080p. Since my Internet connection was well above the 15 megabits per second required by Shadow, and I can broadcast 4K video on my other devices very well, I had to report it to the Shadow service (especially since it was also happening on my PC, taking the Ghost hardware blame of low power). Shadow users have recommended updating the beta version of their software, available to all users from the main menu, which has helped a lot. It was still not as fluid as 1080p, but at least Shadow gives you the option, so you can choose what is most important to you if you encounter the same problem.
By playing on Wi-Fi, things get even darker. Although the Ghost has a solid Wi-Fi chip in its tiny body, it does not guarantee a playable experience. Connecting to my home Wi-Fi works pretty well, while streaming games at my father-in-law, which has the same 100 megabit Internet connection, is unplayable, even standing next to the router. Keep in mind that even though a speed test tells you that you have high-speed Internet access, Wi-Fi is full of waiting times and other issues that can affect your experience. streaming, and some networks will be more reliable than others. Thus, the whole idea of "pick up and play anywhere" is a bit false, unless you can wire directly via Ethernet. (This is more the fault of Wi-Fi than Shadow, but it's a bit of a reality on their motto "play anywhere.")
Finally, let's talk about the cost of Shadow's subscription. Shadow says that for $ 35 a month, it will take you about 4.7 years to cope with the same cost of building an equivalent computer – which, at $ 2,000, is probably pretty accurate. (That does not include the cost of the box, but let's say generously that it will be canceled by the energy savings achieved within that time.) However, not everyone would choose between a Ghost and a PC would not necessarily build a $ 2,000 beast, especially when a PC at $ 1,200 – flush-mounted in a compact Mini-ITX case – can work more than beautifully in 1080p, with fewer quirks and less dependence on the reliability of the network. It only takes 2.8 years to build a PC is a better option, and most computers will last longer, although Shadow includes hardware upgrades in your subscription over time.
In comparison, Shadow's competitors use different pricing structures: you often pay for the number of hours you play, which can be cheaper or more expensive depending on your usage. GeForce Now is free in beta, and you can get instant beta access by buying a $ 190 Shield TV – a much better offer than the alternatives – although I do not know when it will come out of the beta or what its price will be. . .
I'm not saying that Shadow is not worth it, but that you really have to do the math to see if it's worth it.
I'm not saying that Shadow is not worth it, but that you really have to do the math to see if it's worth it. If your only computer is a small laptop with an integrated graphical interface, the Shadow service replaces a desktop gaming platform. If you have a gaming PC but are traveling for long periods of time during the year, you can activate the Shadow service when you need it and cancel it when you do not have one. There is no contract and you can cancel at any time. It's just a question of whether you are visiting enough reliable networks to make the notion of "playing anywhere" worthwhile.
the Ghost of Shadow has an MSRP of $ 139.99 and according to the Twitter of the companythey are already exhausted. You can register to be notified when they will be back in stock.