Review: GAEMS Black Edition Vanguard

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Product: GAEMS Black Edition Vanguard
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Manufacturer: GAEMS
Original MSRP: $349.99
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes and will be returned once the review is complete.
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I’ve seen these things at different events over the past year or so, and I always wondered if being able to play my PS3 or PS4 on the go like this would be something I was interested in. You see, I travel a lot for some reason and most of that is in my car. Be it a weekend trip to visit my parents or even a trip down to Kansas City to see family and friends, I usually have my PS4-branded messenger bag filled with a PS4, controllers, cables, and some games. But of course I still need a TV to connect to and that’s where the offerings from GAEMS come in. They’re available in a couple of different flavors (and prices obviously) with the G155 Sentry which includes a 15.5-inch screen, and the Vanguard model which offers a 19-inch LED Screen. The Vanguard is the one we’re looking at today.

Obviously, I’m focusing on how it works with the PS4 (although I did try my Slim PS3 and the experience was identical.) The Vanguard is really an all-in-one system, built for rough travel and laid-out extremely well. Out of the box it took me about 15 minutes to unwrap everything, strap the system firmly in-place, and plug into the outlet. Included in the box (among other things) is a pad to go under the console, additional straps (specifically for the Xbox One), a short HDMI cable, power supply, and a couple of small drawstring bags to hold these accessories and a couple of controllers. The unit itself is similar to a large briefcase made of hard plastic that’s obviously built to take some punishment and it’s TSA Certified so you can use it as a carry-on for a flight (instead of rolling the dice with the baggage handling systems at the airport).

My first impression was that it’s actually lighter than expected and incredibly easy to work with. Once your console of choice is strapped-in it’s all one unit really. All that hangs out of the case itself are the two power cords (the Vanguard’s and the console’s). If you can work on a wireless network the only other cable needed is the short HDMI that’s included in the package which plugs into the panel at the bottom of the screen and fits well enough that you don’t even have to unplug it when you fold everything up (I still did though, just to be safe,)

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It also comes with a small remote that works well although it doesn’t light up or anything, so you may have trouble in dark situations if you need to adjust things like the volume. If you lose the remote or the battery dies or something, all of the controls are also available on the panel below the screen and those are actually lit so they’re easy to find. Also on the panel are two standard 3.5mm headphone jacks which quite frankly is a brilliant design decision. You may not need them though, because the built-in speakers kind-of wowed me with great sound separation and good use of both bass and treble. They’ve also included lighting behind the LCD screen enclosure, which gives a great sense of clarity as to where the screen borders are and helps find some of the items on the front panel.

The rest of the design is just as good too. The straps are sturdy and have specific points that are kind-of padded as to not scuff your console up. Once that console is secured, it really is secured and it doesn’t move around at all, no matter how much it’s moved around. It really does instill a sense of confidence that your console is not only secure but safe as well. The case itself doesn’t have much give at all and the handle is very comfortable, even on long carries.

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The most important piece though is obviously the screen. Included in the Vanguard is a 19-inch LED monitor with a wonderful refresh rate and lightning fast response time. Viewing angles are also very good and honestly only limited by the fact that the screen is recessed into the case cutting-off any crazy angles. I played a five hour session of Battlefield 4 on PS4 and never once did I have any problems seeing anything. I had no issues with image ghosting at all and brightness is spot-on. Also, if the monitor is sitting at an uncomfortable angle for you there’s a small kickstand built into the bottom of the outside of the case. Just pop it out, and the screen will sit at a more parallel angle to your eyes depending on the height of the surface you have it on.

So, yes, I really like this system and honestly, I really to want keep this one. I travel enough for this to be worth the price, but that’s where the decision will be made for a lot of people. The funny thing is, whenever I see reviews or impressions of these rigs from GAEMS I only ever see them discussing travel uses but there’s another viable use for these and that’s for someone with a small apartment or dorm room. The entire system packs-up in minutes and is easy to unpack as well and everything is secured in that case and is easy to store pretty-much anywhere. But the pricetag in the 19-inch Vanguard is a hefty $349.99.

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To many, that can be a dealbreaker price but I think in many circumstances it’s a pretty good deal. I will say this is the point that I’ve struggled with the most, because I honestly don’t have any complaints about the unit itself. What you can’t do is compare it to other screens of the same size because you’re getting so much more than “just a display.” This really is a fantastic all-in-one unit and if you have the need for something that offers what the GAEMS Vanguard does, it’s actually a great value. I love that it’s so easy to pack-up and go in a short period of time. I love that they didn’t skimp on the display technology and I love that they thought of everything, like having very good speakers built-in but also offering built-in headphone jacks. It’s a well thought out and executed design, and like I said, I can’t think of anything that I’d want to change.

So enough thinking out-loud. Is it worth it? If this suits your needs you bet it’s worth it. The entire package has that feel, that feel that it’s going to last a long time in your possession and that it’ll protect your precious console whatever it may be. If you’re simply looking for a new, small display, I’d say to skip this and just get a good display. But like I said above, with all of the traveling that I do, I’d love to have one of these in my permanent possession because it’s really nice to be able to take my PS4 wherever the road may take me and it won’t matter any more if the crappy motel I’m staying at only has a 19-inch tube TV.

Score:
9.0

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  • Roger Cannon

    How long before your console starts getting too warm for comfort? It doesn’t look like a lot of breathing room for the console to keep cool.

    • No heat problems at all, and I’ve had sessions run 6+ hours.

  • Derek / Beaver6622

    To fold up the case do you have to disconnect the all the cables? i.e. Screen power, system power, HDMI Cable?

    • The HDMI cable can probably stay plugged in, but the others you’ll want to disconnect so you can pack them in the carry bags.