Tobii's eye tracking level adds a natural and useful third input for everyday computing and gaming, but there's a need for more games and direct Windows integration.
Instant recognition and easy setup
Solid gaming performance
Seeing three constant red dots
Limited game compatibility
Lacks deep Windows 10 integration
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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 this 17-inch notebook's hinge.
More than a gimmick, the new tech comes in handy while playing games and even just logging into Windows 10. That said, without many games or much Windows 10 integration, you might have some small reservations about picking up this this piece of fancy eye candy.
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 staring you down.
The good news is it isn't continuously beaming light into your eyes. Well it is but you won't be seeing red all over, instead it projects infrared light – which is invisible to the human eye – to see where you are and where you're looking.
Though it might look like the Tobii sensor bar is designed to spin on its own separate hinge, it actually turns with the screen. However, it's offset just enough to aim directly at your eyes.
Aside from the integrated hinge, this gaming notebook looks like the rest of the MSI Dominator line, which is to say it's a thick and aggressive gaming machine. The entire chassis is painted with a simple jet black finish and otherwise you'll find a few red accents including the MSI dragon badge on the back of the lid.
While the lid and keyboard deck are made of brushed aluminum panels, the rest of the machine is made of plastic. On the one hand I would have preferred a more premium material like carbon fiber or magnesium as seen on Alienware's gaming laptops, but MSI would have likely had to make the parts much thicker to provide the same level of rigidity.
That said, you'll find a few soft spots on the heavily vented underside of the laptop. It doesn't feel quite as flimsy as we found the MSI GT72S Dominator Pro, but there's a definite sponginess to the bottom slats.
The one thing MSI still has nailed down is a nearly perfect SteelSeries keyboard. It's the same set of candy-colored keys I fell in love with on the MSI GS60 Ghost and they feel just as tactile here with a perfectly tuned amount of travel and resistance.
The touchpad feels just as luxurious, though. However, instead of being a clickable panel, it's a touch-sensitive portion of the palm rest with two mouse buttons beneath it. Although the touchpad is made of plastic, it feels nice and smooth. Some users though might find the lack of any distinct transition between the pointing device and rest of the palm rest annoying.
There are four…three lights
Although eye-tracking might sound like it would take a lot of getting used to, setup is super simple and you can get to using the Tobii system within seconds.
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 the most basic level Tobii ties in with Windows Hello, letting you login with your face. On top of this, Tobii's will recognize when you're sitting in front of the computer automatically dim the screen and set the computer to sleep.
The Tobii system knows to just when to dim the screen when I stepped away or even look away from the screen. Then it brings the screen back up to full brightness as soon as I turn my attention back to the display.
Eye have you
The eye-tracking technology also comes into play games, In Assassin's Creed Syndicate, I can visually aim my grappling hook at all times by starting at the screen while my two thumbs are busy with character movement and camera controls.
It's like having a third thumb stick or a second mouse, as unnatural as that might sound. I can seamlessly zip-line from one roof top to another and traverse that much faster in the virtual streets of London. Aside from the shooting off zip-lines, the eye tracking peripheral comes in handy for peering around corners as I drive around horse carriages.
Tobii seems like a natural fit for games such as Project Cars and the F1 racing series. For now, you'll have to settle with Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Elite Dangerous, but a Tobii spokesperson says the company is in talks with studios working on car simulation titles.
Otherwise, the small handful of games Tobii works included Assassin's Creed Rogue, GTA V after a bit of modding, ARMA 2 & 3 and The Division.
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Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.
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