The Whirlwind FX Vortx is definitely an interesting sort of device aiming to add 4D immersive wind qualities based on sound. This is being focused on mainly gaming and directly first person experiences. Originally when looking into the device it was more all around as far as covering movies/video content as well, but the focus now seems more geared towards games and that's fine. It does excel in that particular aspect and I'll attempt to touch on all areas of what it can do. First off, what I was using for a period of time in order to review the device was one of their prototype models. I've been told it's essentially the final model, yet a tad more beat up from its travels.
Going back to the core concept of what it does, the device emulates wind whether that's warm or cold based on the sound it registers. As it reads indications of wind, heat or something chilling it reacts with little to no latency. This means you get the Vortx and a tiny resource using application that runs while the device is connected. There's a neat wheel you can monitor and various settings for tweaking the feedback you receive. I found it rather intriguing to test out various things to see just what sort of power it could give out. The size of the Vortx is 5 1/2” W x 5 1/2” L x 9” H and it's not too large actually. Included is an attached power cord in the back of the model and a port for USB with that part being connected to the PC. The weight is 3 pounds with a max air flow of 15kpm and a max temperature of 99 Fahrenheit or well about 37 degrees.
The cords are lengthy enough that you should be able to place it on your desk or within your play area while having no issues. The case carries a dark design with LED lights that can be adjusted to personal preference. The way you adjust certain things is by clicking the lit up wheel and turning it around like a volume control for the various settings. The nozzle can be tilted however you'd like it to be. I did notice that the device does make some sound, it's not too bad if you're really into the game and I imagine if you're in a VR setup you wouldn't notice it at all. It's audible and present when the fan does kick in, thought it was worth mentioning.
After using it for awhile it was really less noticeable. The wind the Vortx produces for the most part was rather accurate, you could feel explosions or when bullets were being fired. You get a sense of impact with your actions in games and it was an intriguing feeling. I did however notice that during quiet moments when it was obvious there was a wind you didn't feel anything. For me that's important because one of the most powerful moments in some films or games is the pitch of silence against a visual wind. It would be nice to also feel that, but with the need for audio to work that doesn't get tracked. As long as the audio is there for the device to read, it does provide it quite well. The particular intense moments or huge explosions, especially if they're a surprise are really something.
I feel for games it gets things right for the most part, especially in the first person experiences. Even other titles that were third person such as Gears of War 4 or Rise of the Tomb Raider were really great with it. It adds an extra level of immersion that feels fresh for gaming experiences. We're advancing greatly in terms of visual and audio, it's just strange that other senses aren't getting that same sort of support. I feel that the technology behind this Vortx is in its infancy at this point and it already works well.
It's going to also get better after launch (or prior since this review is released before that) since they'll be updating the software to fine tune it further. There's a lot of potential with the technology here and it's so easy to integrate into your existing setup. It really doesn't take much to fit into what you have going on as other peripherals might since you can just plug it in. That adds a certain longevity to it that I'm sure many would appreciate. I like the personalization options as well with the lighting and it was a completely fresh addition to my gaming while I was checking it out. It does have solid moments during video content as well with gaming videos having reactions reaching the point of if you were playing it though with movies it's not quite as present.
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Vortx Review product provided by Whirlwind FX tested with Gears of War 4, Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Minecraft, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 7, Forza Horizon 3, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Call of Duty: WWII