The Nyko Zoom can easily be considered one of those great ideas, but terrible executions that leaves everyone scratching their heads.
For many that have an Xbox Kinect (or even those that want to get one), space is a premium in the household with which to use the Kinect. I’ll admit I’m included in this group – I live in an apartment that is not optimally set or large enough for Kinect use. For that reason, I decided to forgo my inner common sense and try out Nyko’s new piece of equipment: the Nyko Zoom. The Zoom is meant to alleviate the problems with the Kinect’s required area by shrinking it down with a fish-eye lens. Honestly this is something Microsoft should do as well – a Microsoft branded piece of equipment meant to go with the Kinect might actually work a bit better.
Essentially the Zoom is a plastic cover-piece that slips over the Kinect itself, which distorts the image it receives and also manages to tinge everything green. I’m not sure why the lens of the Zoom is green, but caused everything picked up by the Kinect to show in varying shades of that verdant hue. Now a fish-eye lens, for those that do not know, is a wide-angle lens that captures everything in a panoramic view, similar to when you look through a peephole on a door: everything is sort of blown-up, bloated, and stretched. The Zoom does the same with the Kinect, shrinking down the required amount of area needed. It also distorts the tracking capability however – the camera had much more difficulty in recognizing my hands or even me in general.
The other issue I faced having the Zoom was the loss in the area the camera could see as well. The only proper way to explain this is for everyone to take a piece of a paper and draw a circle; that is the Kinect’s normal viewing area. Now shade a fourth of the circle’s inner area around the circle itself (half of the circle’s radius, if you will). See that unshaded area left in the middle of the circle? That is roughly the amount of viewing capacity my Kinect had with the Zoom attached.
With the equipment all set to go, I attempted to play The Gunstringer and Fruit Ninja Kinect with mixed results. FNK worked the majority of the time; as long as my face was buried inside the damn TV. Gunstringer with the Zoom was much more troublesome – half the time the game kept losing track of me and I’d careen off the side or be shot to little puppet pieces.
Overall, the entire thing ended up being a frustrating waste of my time. I feel as though the Zoom is perfect for those will extremely small and tight spaces – the closer I got to my TV (which is not very feasible for me), the better it seemed to pick up my movements. That being said, I still experienced issues. On the opposite end of this, my living room is not large enough to use the Kinect itself. I am stuck in the land in-between, where I am forever doomed to attempt Kinect games with so-so results.
If you live in a cramped cubicle of a dorm room or apartment, the Zoom might end up actually being perfect for you. Otherwise I suggest people try to suffer through their current situation or finding a new place to house your Kinect shenanigans.
Really though, I should have kept the one key thing in mind when I went into this – it’s a Nyko product, and I’ve had their controllers literally fall apart in my hands the first night using them.Note: The Nyko Zoom review was written based on multiple room tests with the device.