A whole generation of gadgets are coming that marry mobile gaming and living room play. And the folks behind the Razer Edge want it to be the Lamborghini of these hybrid gadgets.
Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the Razer is a beast of mobile PC gaming, and it is moving toward its launch in April. This mobile gaming machine is a tablet, a laptop, and a living room console that runs PC games and Windows 8 applications. Priced starting at $999, it’s not a cheap machine. But Razer chief executive Min-Liang Tan believes that it will appeal to the people who are true gaming fanatics.
The Razer Edge delivers a true PC gaming experience that exploits discrete Nvidia graphics that will probably enable it to run circles around other Android devices that are seeking to invade the living room. It will face competition from the likes of Valve’s rumored Steam Box, the Xi3 Piston, the Nvidia Project Shield, Green Throttle Games, and Ouya’s $99 Android console. These are all slightly different variations on a theme. And that theme is the disruption of life as we know it in both mobile and living room gaming. We’ll hear a lot about these devices at next week’s Game Developers Conference.
Of all those devices, the Razer Edge should be the favorite of Microsoft and Intel, because this machine is an authentic high-end PC. The base model sports an Intel Core i5 processor, a Nvidia GT640M LE graphics processing unit, 4GB DDR3 random access memory, and a 64GB solid state drive. The upgraded Razer Edge pro has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB or 256GB SSD. The system costs $999 for the base model, $1,299 for the 128GB model, and $1,449 for the 256GB model.
Tan first showed us the device as Project Fiona at CES in 2012. After that, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company put the design up for a vote, and the crowdsourced advice from the community helped shape the machine into something else, said Brian Jang [pictured], the product manager at Razer, in an interview with GamesBeat. The community wanted to be no more than twice the weight of an iPad (the Edge weighs 2 pounds). They wanted detachable controllers, discrete graphics, and the capability to play Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3 game, at the very least.
“This isn’t just for Angry Birds,” Jang said. “It’s hardcore PC gaming.”
The device has USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, and four configurations. You can use it in a tablet mode, a keyboard in a dock mode, game controller mode, and docking station mode. It has a multitouch touchscreen so you can play Windows 8 apps, movies, and music. The keyboard in a dock mode turns the Edge into a laptop. That mode has a removable 40MHz battery. (The keyboard is shipping in the third quarter). You can also play it as a console system, with console-like controls on the side of the machine. And you can play it on your living room TV with an HDMI cable connection. Since it has 3 USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port, you can play it on a living room TV with multiple players. The 10.1-inch display is 0.8 inches thick.
The machine has a battery life of about an hour, so you’ll probably need that a $69-extra extended battery, which gets you two to six hours. The docking station is $99, and the gamepad is $249.
I played the system in all of its modes in a recent preview. The machine can run a demanding game, the stealth-action game Dishonored, at 59 frames per second. It played the racing game Dirt: Showdown at 41 frames per second. The graphics ran in a fluid way. I saw the occasional “tearing,” where one part of the screen has to catch up with the rest of the screen when the scene is moving fast. But it wasn’t annoying, and you can adjust game settings to eliminate the tearing altogether. It makes some noise because it has a fan.
Overall, it’s a very cool device. But the price tag is going to limit the audience that will buy the machine like this. Here’s our video tour of the Razer Edge below. Check it out.