Business, Hardware

Thermaltake and Luxa2 Innovate and Expand at CES 2014


We came to CES this year not quite knowing what to expect from Thermaltake as they had been hyping up their showings this year, but what we found was a mixture of a lot of the same and some really interesting and new stuff, especially from their Luxa2 and traditional computer case business.

Since I’m always interested to see what Luxa2 has to offer, we started out there and were able to see that Thermaltake has greatly expanded their line of Luxa2 products and mostly built on some of their first products in each category. They first started us out by showing off their new colors of their Groovy speaker, which we reviewed. They now offer the Groovy in silver, white and red, while I believe black would be prudent as well.

The continuation of their wireless speaker line, and the Groovy wireless speaker brand is the Groovy T, which I found to probably be the most interesting and innovative introduction to the Luxa2 brand. This is Luxa2’s only wireless, connectionless, amplified, wireless speaker. The Groovy T takes the sound waves from your smartphone’s speaker and simply amplifies them to a point where you actually have a pretty decently loud speaker. The Groovy T is very unassuming and incredibly light and allows virtually anyone to connect their phone to it by simply placing their phone on it. The best part is that it requires no WiFi, no Bluetooth, no wires or anything like that. It simply takes the analog sound waves and amplifies them into the speakers creating a very unique product that makes using wireless speakers easier than ever before. The expected retail price is also a ridiculously cheap $15.

After that, we took a look at Luxa2’s Groovy Duo Live, which allows you to pair multiple speakers to your device, be it a smartphone or a tablet and to connect via NFC in order to make the set up process quicker and easier. Each Groovy Duo Live cube contains one speaker, so you’ll want at least one. However, these will go for $80 a pop, so they won’t be cheap to buy in large quantities together. As far as we were told, you could only pair 2 of these at a time, but it would be cool to have them strategically placed around the house.

Moving on with more Groovy products, Luxa2 also has the Groovy W, which we saw at Computex last year and is finally making a North American debut. This speaker is both a wireless Bluetooth speaker and an NFC capable wireless Bluetooth speaker. But that’s not all, it also has the ability to be wirelessly charged and comes with a wireless charging (Qi) battery that adds 4000 mAh to the already included 2200 mAh. It will also feature a Luxa2 app, which I don’t quite know what will do. But, it is nice that we finally have wireless NFC Bluetooth speakers that can be wirelessly charged. Finally making good use of the Qi standard’s full potential. It will come in 3 different colors, Black, White/Silver and Red and retail for $99, which I think is a steal when you consider that most Qi wireless chargers cost between $50 and $75 and this also happens to be an NFC bluetooth speaker as well as a 4000 mAh battery. What would make this product more than great, though, would be if they integrated wireless charging into the top of the speaker itself and enabled you to wirelessly charge your phone while you play music.

After completing the Groovy lineup, we took a gander at their E-One headphone stand and H5-Note (pictured right, below) phone stand for your car. The E-One isn’t anything crazy or innovative, but it is a very nice looking, properly balanced headphone stand which simply doesn’t exist these days and would go great with any pair of high-end Sennheiser or Audio Technicas. It will retail for $36 and is all aluminum, so you are definitely getting your money’s worth with the product, but it really comes down to being a question of whether or not you need a headphone stand and if you’re willing to spend $36 for one that doesn’t tip over and looks good. The H5-Note is simply an update to Thermaltake’s already fantasty H5 holder for smartphones. I currently have an H5 holder in my car, but it won’t fit any phones over 5", which includes most phablets today. So, they created the H5-note to accommodate these larger phones (like my Galaxy Note 3) and continue to be incredibly useful and effective.

One interesting thing that Thermaltake has done was to expand their line of P-MEGA battery packs. I don’t really know what to call them other than battery banks, packs or bricks, but they’re very large chargers capable of charging multiple devices at the same time. We first saw these at Computex last year with the P-Mega concept which had a 42,000 mAh battery capacity. Now, they’ve spun off 3 variants of that device with the P-Mega S (26,000 mAh or 26 Wh), P-Mega W (wireless charging combined with 4 USB ports) and the P-Mega (42,000 mAH or 42 Wh) with 6 USB ports.

Don’t be deceived by the names on the signs in the photo below, the P-Mega is on the left, P-Mega S is in the middle and the P-Mega W is on the right. The P-Mega is expected to sell for $170, while the P-Mega S is expected to be $120 and the P-Mega W is expected to sell for $70.

In addition to the battery banks, as you could see, they also had two different wireless charging solutions available. One, called the Luxa2 TX-P1 is capable of Qi wireless charging as well as a battery bank with a 5000 mAh battery capacity. We were able to test its functionality and we got our Nexus 5’s to work pretty well with it, as well as the TX-200 which is their dual coiled wireless charging base that enables you to wirelessly charge two Qi wireless compatible devices at the same time. Both of these are expected to go for $65 MSRP even though I don’t see many applications where people will need two Qi charging pads unless they carry two phones, both with Qi. 

Following that, we took a look at Luxa2’s latest battery banks, some of which we had already seen at Computex. Like the leather 2000 mAh battery pack that you can fashionably attach to your purse. But here, we took a look at their ruggedized P1-Pro battery pack, which features a high 7000 mAh battery capacity and dual charging capability (max 2.1a) and aluminum body. The expected retail price for the P1-Pro is a meager $55, which makes it incredibly competitive with most other battery pack solutions, except that most of the competition isn’t aluminum or ruggedized.

When it came to fashionable batteries, we saw some updated versions of what we had seen at Computex (like the PL1), most notably the P2 and PL2. The P2 is a very sleek and relatively small but sturdy aluminum battery pack that is about the size of a smartphone, but packs 5000 mAh. It looks very good and could easily accompany any iPhone 5S. The PL2 is the less sleek, but equally as compact leather version of the P2, but with a 6000 mAh battery and a pretty pocket friendly form factor. To me, this reminds me of my 3000 mAh Innergie PocketCell that I reviewed a long time ago as well as the 6800 mAh PocketCell Duo, but it isn’t quite as big as the 6800 mAh version, meaning that Thermaltake has done some great innovation as well as design here.

After we finishe dup with Thermaltake’s Luxa2 brand, we moved on to their Tt eSports brand to get an update on their latest version of the Level 10 M mouse, which is now a wireless mouse with some ergonomic improvements. The addition of the wireless transmitter and wireless capability actually helps make the Level 10 M mouse more comfortable for certain users like myself that have fairly wide hands.

They’ve also removed some extra buttons that were on the Level 10 M mouse, which I (and many others) would accidentally press during use. Thanks to Thermaltake’s great design teams, they were able to integrate the wireless functionality without really ruining the superior aesthetics of this beautiful mouse. Hopefully they’ve ironed out some of the software since we last used the Level 10 M mouse.

We also took a look at their headsets, which have remained fairly unchanged with the exception of a new premium aluminum headset and the wireless NFC gaming headset which actually had originally been shown to us at Computex as a wireless NFC headset for music. Now it looks like it will have a microphone and become a headset, which means that it could also be used as a wireless headset for anyone on the phone that wants to have a quieter talking environment or a more private conversation.

Thermaltake also showed off a whole slew of updated entry-level and mid-range cases, but there was one case that particularly caught my eye…

That case was Thermaltake’s Urban T81 case, this case not only looks sleek and has an absolute ton of internal drive capacity, it also has support for a multitude of water cooling combinations that vary from one 120mm radiator all the way up to 420 mm radiators. If you were absolutely crazy you could theoretically fit two 420mm radiators and a 280mm radiator as well as a 140mm radiator in the same case, at the same time. The amount of water cooling possiblities in this case are almost limitless and it isn’t even that big of a case to begin with. This thing is fully compatible with all of Thermaltake’s watercooling solutions and you can virtually fit any radiator anywhere in the case with the exception of the Water 3.0 Pro (280mm) in the back of the case since it only has room for a 140mm fan/radiator.

It also has the ability to open the size panel like on the Level 10 GT case, which makes for accessing the internals incredibly quick and easy. And you can still show off your computer’s internals and cable management in a breeze.

Thermaltake also had a few interesting case mods around their suite, which caught my eye and I thought you guys would appreciate in addition to the new products.