A windswept audience with Philips amBX

[intro]We've just been blasted by an oversized model of Philips' amBX gaming effects rig. Here's the skinny on the first setups coming to market[/in

We've just been blasted by an oversized model of Philips' amBX gaming effects rig at CES which, as you can see, comprised of some industrial-sized fans, a monstrous sub, some satellite lights and a host of satellite speakers.

Even on this scale, the audience was left a little underwhelmed. The demo was of THQ's Supreme Commander – which looks like warfare game from 1998 – and while the strobe lighting and fan-generated wind was dramatic, it didn't exactly match the images of giant fighting robots.

To be fair it'll take developers a few trys to figure out how to use the technology, and it's not really designed to work on such a massive, impersonal scale. Philips, though, thinks it's ready to hit the market in April, when it'll be available in three different bundles.

The $200 Starter Kit will get you a wall washer light, controller unit and satellite lights. If you want some extra rumble, you'll want the $300 Pro-Gamer kit which adds a subwoofer. To get the fans and wrist rumblers, you can splash a further $100 on an Extension Kit, while the $400 gives you the whole lot.

Philips had little else in the way of new product demos, but did say that its 42in, 47in and new 52in Ambilight models will now have 1080p high-def, and previewed its cool wireless HDMI gizmo (called the SWW1800), which uses Ultra Wideband to chuck a 1080p signal round your pad. It'll be out in the States in May for $300, and will apparently be coming to the UK later this year.

On a final note, Philips gave the expected response to the earlier news of LG's dual-format player –namely 'this isn't the end of the format war' and 'our new Blu-Ray recorder is much cheaper, you know'. Looks like this one's far from over.