Hands-on review: CES 2016: MSI GT72S G Tobii

Forget about controllers, keyboards and mice; the new MSI GT72S G Tobii gaming laptop lets you control games with just your eyes. As the name might suggestion, MSI has teamed up with Tobii to integrate the eye-tracking peripheral right into the notebooks hinge. More than a gimmick, the new tech comes in handy while playing games and even just logging into Windows 10.

The MSI GT72S is the first to integrate Tobii’s technology directly into a notebook and it’s hard to miss. Not only is the peripheral built right into the hinge, it also has three constantly turned on red lights pointed towards you. The good news is it isn’t continuously beaming light into your eyes. Well it is but you won’t be seeing red, instead there’s it projects infrared light to see where you are and where you’re looking.

MSI GT72S G Tobii review

Setup is super simple. All Tobii requires is for you to sit down and start a small calibration demo where you focus on a few dots until you spin them out of existence. After that you’re escorted to an asteroid field where you can blow up space rocks with your laser eyes. It’s gentle and effective introduction into the eye tracking experience.

As for real world usage, at its most basic level of functionality you’ll be able to use Tobii to log into your computer using Windows Hello. On top of this you can use Tobii’s ability to recognize when you’re sitting in front of the computer and tie it to Window’s screen dimming and sleeping timers.

MSI GT72S G Tobii review

The GT72S intuitively knew to dim the screen when I stepped away or even looked away from the screen. Then it would just as quickly bring the screen back up to full brightness as soon as I turned my attention back to the display.

I was also treated to using the eye-tracking technology in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. In game I was able to aim my grappling hook at all times by starting at the screen while using my two thumbs for regular movement and camera controls. Although it was like I had a third thumb, whole experience is more natural then it sounds and I was able to seamless from roof top to roof top, and grappling across gaps in the street.

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MSI GT72S G Tobii review

It also helps that the GT72S has a well-stocked configuration to keep the game running smoothly. The spec sheet on the hands on unit I tested included a 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-6820K processor and a Nvidia GTX 980M GPU with 8GB of DDR5 VRAM. Other specs include 32GB of DDR4 RAM, plus a 256GB SSD with another 1TB HDD.

Aside from the shooting off zip lines, the eye tracking peripheral came in handy for peering around corners as I drove around horse carriages. Tobii seems like a natural fit for games such as Project Cars and the F1 racing series and a spokesperson says the company is in talks with studios working on car simulation titles. For now, though, Tobii only works with Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Syndicate, GTA V after a bit of modding, and the Division when it releases later in March.

MSI GT72S G Tobii review

Early verdict

The MSI GT72S G Tobii offers a sneak peek at how naturally eye tracking technology could be integrated into everyday computing and playing games. However, with the gaming laptop arriving at the end of the month with a price tag of 2,499 (about £1,721, AU$3,574), it comes at a premium for gimmicks that you could easily spend on a more powerful gaming laptop such as the MSI GT80 Titan.

The future success of Tobii eye tracking endeavours rests entirely on the shoulders of developers programing for the peripheral. Until there are more titles on the horizon, it’s hard to recommend this specialized version of the Dominator even if it works so well and naturally.

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