NZXT Takes On Consoles, Steam Machines With $100 DOKO PC Streamer
In case it hasn't been obvious enough, in-home PC game streaming is a big deal. It could be argued that NVIDIA was one of the spearheads. With GameStream, it's allowed gamers to stream their PC games from their GeForce-equipped PC right on over to their SHIELD portable or tablet. I admit that at first, I wasn't too sure of how something like that would catch on, but it seemingly has.
While NVIDIA's solution was good, there were some major gotchas - you needed a SHIELD, and a GeForce-equipped PC. It was of great interest, then, when Valve made an announcement that it was throwing its hat into the ring. Through Steam, gamers have been able to stream their PC games over to another, such as an HTPC. A massive benefit here is, neither the target or source OS matters - Windows, Linux, and OS X were all treated as equals.
Even Valve's solution has some limitations, though. A big one being that a PC is required to receive the connection and display the video on your television. It was only a matter of time before even smaller, simpler solutions became available, and at CES, we saw a good number of candidates.
Well, NZXT didn't want to unveil its own solution at CES, and I can't blame it. It's hard to make a product stand out during such a mammoth event, and the company genuinely believes that its solution is better than all the rest. It's called DOKO, and it aims to be the simplest PC game streaming solution yet.
Connecting a DOKO to a television is as simple as plugging in a couple of cables: HDMI, Ethernet, and of course, power. Once situated, you can connect whichever peripherals you'd like directly into the DOKO - a very good thing, as the last time I checked, having control over your game is fairly important!
Interestingly, NZXT doesn't go into detail to explain how DOKO grabs video from your source PC, but we'd have to imagine that you'd be required to install Windows software. Once all setup, NZXT promises very low latency (50~80ms) in addition to USB over IP technology, which will allow you to use special peripherals that work on your PC on the DOKO as well.
In the video below, NZXT goes into great detail about who the DOKO is targeted at: gamers who take the PC seriously, and won't lower themselves to purchase a "$400+ inferior console".
Despite that rather blunt jab, DOKO does have one glaring limitation: 30 FPS. This is undoubtedly related to the Wonder Media 8750 SoC that's used, but it's unfortunate nonetheless. NVIDIA's Tegra 4 SoC has been available for over a year-and-a-half, yet handles 1080p @ 60 FPS over Ethernet just fine (as proven by the SHIELD). I was told that DOKO has been in development for about a year, so it feels like a better SoC could have been included, but it is what it is, I suppose.
NZXT did tell us that the possibility is there to release a premium model down the road that boosts performance to 60 FPS, but that creates another issue: the DOKO is not going to be without real competition for too much longer. Intel's Compute Stick, announced at CES, is one good candidate. The Linux version costs $90 and would be able to handle 60 FPS streams no problem, thanks to its Atom SoC under-the-hood. Plus, the Compute Stick is an actual PC, so it could be used for other things locally, not only streaming.
Nonetheless, DOKO is still a great-looking product and appears to me to be the simplest in-home PC game streamer ever. It might seem a little expensive at its $100 price point, but considering the fact that it has an integrated USB hub, it's a little more justified.