Like lots of British people living in the United States, I spend every weekend morning watching back-to-back live football (or … soccer) games to stay connected to the homeland. During the week, while waiting for teams to take the field again, I keep up with all the players and clubs on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s on these platforms where, over the past six months, I’ve noticed a single strange-looking product pop up over and over again, each time in the hands of a different superstar footballer. That product, I eventually discovered, is Indigaming’s Poga Pro gaming console — a tricked-out suitcase that, instead of room for Dopp kits and clothes, contains a screen, power source, and space for either an Xbox or PlayStation and their respective controllers. Oh, and it’s also on wheels. As the players demonstrate in their posts, you simply plug in the case, pop it open, turn on the console like you would at home, and suddenly you’ve got a fully set up gaming station to pass the time wherever you are in the world.
As for whom I’ve seen it in the hands of: Manchester City defender Nathan Aké and Tottenham Hotspur winger Steven Bergwijn both arrived at international training in Holland this month carrying theirs. Saúl Ñíguez, a midfielder on the Spanish national team, told GQ España that he can’t live without his Poga Pro, while Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford told American GQ the same thing (and added that “because some of my teammates also have them, I’ve colored my P and A in on the logo”). Arsenal superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dedicated a post on his main feed to the product, which, as far as I can tell, is not an ad. And a visit to Indigaming’s own Instagram reveals many, many more famous faces using theirs in hotel rooms, on flights, and on team buses.
Given how many players are hauling the suitcase with them from place to place — and telling the world about it — it’s safe to assume the thing works. Still, because I couldn’t find a single review of it online, I had a few questions. How exactly does it work? Is it the first of its kind? And how does playing on the suitcase compare to playing on the massive TVs that seasoned gamers will use at home?
To find out, I reached out to a few video-game experts, some of whom knew as little about it as I did, but one of whom — Dan Ackerman, the senior managing editor for computers and gaming at CNET — had more to say. The first thing he told me is that this isn’t the only such device he’s come across over the years; in fact, he says the gaming community has long been interested in such products for two reasons. The first is practical: “Today’s consoles can be pretty light and packable, but people complain that if you go to a hotel, you often can’t plug your own console in because the TV doesn’t have the right ports or is locked to the wall.” The second, he says, is security related: “You also keep a lot of personal data on your consoles nowadays, so having your own dedicated one to sign in on, especially if you’re a high-profile athlete, means that instead of logging in to countless different devices on the road, you’re always using your own hardware.” But, Ackerman continues, many attempts at such devices have fallen short. “I’ve seen plenty that were really plasticky, and most had these terrible little LCD screens that were really more gimmicks than anything else. They were like something you give a kid in the backseat of a car on a five-hour road trip.”
While he hasn’t had hands-on experience with the Poga Pro, Ackerman does think it represents one of the most advanced portable gaming setups of its kind. “The case is steel rather than plastic; it’s really more like a flight case,” he says, adding, “I can’t imagine anything bad would happen to your console with that type of protection.” He told me that another telling detail about the Poga Pro’s quality is its screen. “Gamers are picky, and I give the brand credit for using an Asus monitor, which is a company that makes great gaming monitors,” he says, explaining that the Poga Pro uses Asus’s 22-inch HD VP228HE gaming monitor, which is used by many gamers who don’t play out of a suitcase. All in all, he describes the product as something like “Tony Stark’s armor suitcase,” saying it’s a luxurious way to game on the go.
He’s right about that last bit: Retailing for $939 (plus tax), the Poga Pro is twice the price of the consoles you stick inside it (and comes in even pricier versions that include your console of choice already inside). Which is likely a reason I’ve only seen well-paid athletes using it thus far. Ackerman says it does “make sense if you’re on the road all the time” and have the means to invest but sees little reason to get one if you’re just going to play at home. He suggests anyone looking for a cheaper portable gaming system opt for a $300 Nintendo Switch. “It’s not a giant thing like this, but you can plug it onto your TV and then play on that bigger screen when you’re home.” But seeing as those consoles seem to fly off shelves faster than you can say Nintendo Switch, some may argue a Poga Pro in hand is worth three (or so) Switches on back order.
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