How many of you have run into this same predicament? You’re headed off on a trip to your mother-in-law’s, or maybe on a business trip a few states away. The latest PS4 exclusive just released and you want to play it, but you’re about to be away from home for five days. You consider your options. You could leave the PS4 at home and go five days without it or you could try to wrap it in a bunch of shirts and pack it in your luggage, and then hope that there’s a free screen to play on wherever you are going. I’ve done both, and neither are the ideal solution when I just want to play my games.
The GAEMS Sentinel Personal Gaming Environment solves this problem through simple and effective design. It doesn’t try to go overboard with features, many of which may be unnecessary. Instead, GAEMS meets players needs in a very pointed manner. When traveling with your console, what are the two biggest things that you want? For myself, and most other people, the answer is a safe place to keep the console and a screen that you can plug it into. The Sentinel offers both, but there’s a lot more thought that goes into what GAEMS does besides just “a case with a built in screen.”
First, let’s talk about the rugged nature of the case. It’s designed to fit pretty much any recent console (sorry, not going to be able to get your Gamecube into this one), and as long as the next-generation boxes don’t drastically change size or shape, it will be able to fit those too. The console sits on a bed of foam that actually wicks heat away from the system better than just sitting on my wooden TV cabinet. Yup, after testing it out, my PS4 runs cooler while sitting in the case.
Two velcro straps cover the console and hold it in place. At first I thought these would be too flimsy and allow the console to slide around, especially if the case was held by the handle and jostled, but I’ve taken the Sentinel and my PS4 on multiple trips now and never had an issue with the console sliding out of place. This is again one of those small things that GAEMS didn’t overdo. The velcro straps give the case a lot of flexibility on what it can hold. By sticking to simplicity that works, the GAEMS Sentinel can meet the needs of even more people, no matter which console you have.
The case itself is a high-quality hard plastic that’s plenty rugged. I never felt concerned about damage while carrying around what amounts to a $350 briefcase loaded up with a $400 console. That’s what the Sentinel is designed for, after all. It protects your console during the predictable bumps and bangs of travel without needing to wrap it up in last year’s Christmas sweater. Now I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable just chucking it at a brick wall or anything like that (please don’t actively try to damage your stuff), but as a kind of insurance policy that’s going to keep my console safe during my regular travel, it more than meets that need.
GAEMS Sentinel Review – Mile-High Console Club
With all of the security at airports these days, I’m worried about bringing almost anything on the plane with me, let alone a full game console inside a case that has a screen built in. I’ve been through a few airports with it now, and can happily say that the Sentinel makes the trip with ease. I’ve never had an issue simply tossing the case right on the conveyor through security as-is. It’s never been flagged or slowed me down at all, and fits very nicely in overhead storage on every plane I’ve been on with it.
The one downside of the case is that it’s not designed to hold anything else inside. Sure, you can rig it up to keep the cables inside, but it can damage the screen if you don’t do it right, and it’s definitely not natively designed to keep a controller in there (try it at your own risk). It includes a padded accessories bag for your cables and controller, and anywhere I was going with the Sentinel, I had my backpack, so it wasn’t a huge issue. In order to provide an area for accessories, the case would need to be bigger and/or not be as flexible for different console sizes and shapes. The upcoming Guardian case adds a spot for cables as well as a controller dock right in the case, but it’s quite a bit bigger, not to mention more expensive, than the Sentinel.
The handle on the Sentinel is also less-than-ergonomic making holding it for long periods (like the security line at an airport) a bit of a chore. My hands are larger than most (long fingers), and it still got uncomfortable hauling it around. A softer material, padding, or even just molding it better to fit a hand could go a long way to making this a little more comfortable to hold. It’s a super small nitpick though, and didn’t really affect my overall experience with the case.
GAEMS Sentinel Review – More Than a Portable Console Case
All right, so it carries and protects the console well, but there’s a whole other piece to this puzzle that makes the GAEMS Sentinel what it is. The screen built into the lid is not your typical TV display, but a monitor. That’s a huge distinction, because monitors are lower latency than what most console players are used to on their TVs. PC players may scoff at us a bit, but you don’t know low-latency until you’ve plugged your console into a monitor and tried to play your favorite games. In what I thought would be an imperceptible difference, my performance in games like Destiny 2 skyrocketed, simply because inputs on the controller were translating to the screen just a split second faster.
The display is a 1080P 17.3″ IPS FHD panel, and while that might not mean a lot to the layman, know that it means that it looks damn good. Because of the high-quality display and low-latency, I often ended up leaving my PS4 in the case when I would get home from trips. Sure, I could plug it back into my TV, but sitting three feet away from a 17-inch screen is just about equivalent to viewing a 55-inch TV at eight feet. Being right there in front of the monitor with low-latency and zero distractions on the peripheral really made every single game feel more immersive and better to play. It sounds crazy, but the GAEMS Sentinel case is my preferred place to play now, not just a way to travel with my PS4.
There are onboard speakers that aren’t going to wow an audiophile, but still outperform either my laptop or TV speakers. Most of the time I was simply plugging headphones right into the Sentinel (or just into my PS4 controller). There are two headphone inputs, so if you are playing co-op or watching movies with someone else, you don’t have to fumble around with headphone splitters or other external solutions.
A product like the GAEMS Sentinel is a big investment, and I wanted to make sure that it held up under longer-term use after the initial rush of essentially turning my PS4 into a bulkier laptop (would not recommend playing with it on your lap, though I have done it before). After a month of use, including three roundtrip plane trips, a roadtrip, and a lot of using the Sentinel around to make my PS4 portable around the house, I can easily say that it’s become a staple part of my gaming gear setup. I’ve even set it up to play in bed a few nights, which is thrilling.
If you ask yourself how you can safely take your console on the go, the GAEMS Sentinel is the answer to that question, but it might just surprise you how much more it answers too.
GAEMS Sentinel review unit provided by manufacturer for the purposes of this review. For more information, please see our Review Policy.