CES 2013: Hands-on with the Razer Edge gaming tablet

Posted on Jan 12 2013 - 1:36pm by Gabriel Zamora
Razer Edge 1 CES 2013: Hands on with the Razer Edge gaming tablet

The Razer Edge with Gamepad.

LAS VEGAS – The fruits of Razer’s “Project Fiona” have finally come to fruition at CES 2013 in the form of the 10.1-inch Razer Edge, a powerful new tablet that Razer hopes will be your new one-stop-shop for all your gaming needs. Announced during CES 2012, “Project Fiona” was lauded as a tablet developed “by PC gamers for PC gamers” and received much attention and accolades.

I was able to sit down with the final version of the tablet and give the portable powerhouse a go.

First off, the Razer Edge is quite a bit heftier than your average tablet. At nearly an inch thick by my estimation, it feels completely different in one’s hand when compared to todays trend of “mini” and “ultra-thin” tablets. However, there are powerful components under the hood, which sets the Edge apart and makes it the most powerful tablet on the market.

The Razer Edge comes in two flavors: a standard and a pro model.

Razer Edge

  • Intel i5 processor,
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT640M LE GPU
  • 4 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 64 GB SSD
  • Price Point: $1,000

Razer Edge Pro

  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT640M LE GPU
  • 8 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Either 128 or 256 GB SSD
  • Price Point: $1,300
Razer Edge 7 CES 2013: Hands on with the Razer Edge gaming tablet

Razer Edge in its docking station.

What makes the Razer Edge truly stand apart, aside from its powerful innards, are its accessories. The Razer Edge can be fitted with three peripherals that allow it to take on its alternate roles of portable gamepad, gaming PC/console, and laptop.

Equipping the Razer Edge with the Gamepad Controller accessory turns the tablet into a mobile console. The handlebars on either side of the Gamepad Controller are equipped with an analog stick and three shoulder buttons, as well as a four-button pad (a directional pad on the left, and YXAB buttons on the right). The Gamepad Controller will retail for $250.

The Docking Station accessory allows users to transform their Razer Edge into a home console. This accessory features three USB ports, a HDMI port, and a microphone and stereo port. This peripheral allows users to connect controllers to the USB ports for multi-player play, as well as connect the Edge to their television to play on a big screen. The docking station accessory will retail for $100.

The Keyboard Dock accessory clamps the Edge to a small frame and portable keyboard, which lets one use the tablet as a more traditional laptop. While the design hasn’t been finalized, Razer showcased its latest prototype on the CES 2013 show floor. Unlike the Docking Station or Gamepad Controller, the keyboard dock won’t be available at launch — it is scheduled for release during the Fall of this year.

The Razer Edge is versatile, but I have a few criticisms to voice. The most glaring being its poor battery life. The power the Edge possesses comes at the cost of its battery life, lasting only 1-4 hours before needing a recharge. The Gamepad Controller and Keyboard Dock accessories each have a slot that accept an extra battery, but you’re looking at 2-8 hours of game time, tops.

Razer Edge 13 CES 2013: Hands on with the Razer Edge gaming tablet

The Razer Edge in its keyboard dock.

In the case of both the Keyboard Dock and Gamepad Controller, comfort was an issue. The keyboard attachment is serviceable, but the keys feels too small and cluttered to use comfortably for a prolonged amount of time. For a keypad as small as the Razer Edge’s (about the size of a 10-inch laptop’s), I would have preferred rubberized or silicone keys for better tact. Fortunately, because the Razer Edge uses Windows 8 as its OS, most USB compatible, Windows-based peripherals can be used instead.

I also have a nitpick with the Gamepad Controller. The handlebars grips don’t conform to the shape of the hand very well, and the shoulder buttons are awkward to utilize. Because of the tablet’s 2.1-pound heft, carrying around and playing became a chore after a few minutes. I feel it’s simply too large and too heavy to use comfortably.

Value is another point of concern. One could simply pick up the standard version of the Razer Edge for a $1,000, but what makes the tablet compelling are its accessories, which don’t come cheap. $250 for the Gamepad Controller and $100 for the Docking Station, as well as $70 for an extended battery, all add up to a sizeable chunk of change. And that doesn’t include the keyboard attachment, the price of which hasn’t been revealed. Nor does it factor in the cost for the Pro (about $1,300), should prospective buyers desire the stronger of the two Razer Edge tablets.

The Razer Edge is going for a jack-of-all-trades approach — it is good at everything. But by dipping into the tablet, PC, and portable gaming markets at the same time, Razer might be biting off more than it can chew. Sure, you could theoretically play a major chunk of your Steam library on the go, and the Docking Station lets gamers set up a gaming PC in their own living room, or any living room. Plus, its tablet functionality makes it a versatile tool on top of this. But when it comes down to the gritty heart of the matter (money), is there a market for the Razer Edge? There are considerably cheaper tablet options out on the market. Portable systems like the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita are expanding their libraries every quarter, and cost a few hundreds dollars, not over a thousand. And a PC gamer in the market for a new PC can build their own custom rig for a fraction of the cost of the Razer Edge and its accessories.

So who, exactly, is the Razer Edge meant to appeal to?

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Gabriel Zamora is a freelance writer, ghost writer and hardcore video gamer. He has contributed written works for 2D-X, Examiner and MultiplayerGames among other sites.

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  • Holyfire

    I agree, way too many companies nowadays are attempting to challenge every segment of the market in one hit. It’s been tried before a number of times and often fails.
    And a longtime console gamer, and Nintendo fan (do game on PCs to)
    I’m almost starting to think the consoles are losing their focus as well, trying to add in every feature to their systems. Which is great, but as a result these systems operate slower, and require more expensive hardware to manage the software and system functions.
    Wonder what would happen if they had purely a game focused console again, no net browsers, paid TV viewers, google view functions etc…
    Alas, have my WiiU and looking forward to it’s upcoming software big time still

    • http://twitter.com/jeffreylwilson Jeffrey L. Wilson

      Agreed, Holyfire. There are far too many players in the game now between Razer, Nvidia, Ouya, GameStick, and who know what else is out there. There’s a shakedown coming. It reminds me of the ’80s pre-NES consoles and 8-bit computers–everyone dogpiled in, but few were successful. I’m not wishing ill will on any of the companies, but I think this balloon is stretching and will soon pop.

      Question, though. Do you think a console can survive without the extra features and services if the competition has ‘em?

      • Holyfire

        I could write an essay in response to that, but fow now as Im writing on my touchy (no pun intended, in this context, ‘touchy’ means oversensitive and glitchy) android phone in a time restrict, will attempt a short answer….
        So I’d say, possibly could, though probably not. Will explain my thoughts as to why in another post soon (if I dont forget).
        But I envision an amusing scenario where the consoles start becoming so PC like, including even full ‘windows’ esque OS’s and even different performance SKU’s (essentially becoming brand name desktop systems, ala Acer n HP etc.., that they open up a market gap for what consoles used to be. And someone releases a no frills, chuck game in n play system. Most of the fun without the glitches, cost and system headaches attatched.
        Which on a side note explains why I personally don’t believe the Steam box will “wipe out consoles”

        • http://www.2D-X.com/ Jeffrey L. Wilson

          Ah, the Steam Box. I hope it does well, but I don’t think it’s going to be the PC gaming “savior” that many supporters think. Honestly, I think Joe Walmart will be confused by the different SKUs. It seems like a niche/enthusiast product, but if it blows up, it wouldnt be the first time I was wrong on the ol’ internet.

          • Holyfire

            Well, the Steam box seemed to be set to challenge the console scene more so from what I read. It probably will dilute the markets on both the console and to lesser extent PC desktop market, but will never replace either. I gather it will have potentially endless SKU’s with every manufacturer on board, could run various OS’s, etc.. And it’s gonna be promoted as some kinda home entertainment hub?
            Hmm likely it will be glitchy life PCs, virus prone, hackable, and without definitive hardware, programmers can’t build “console” style games for it. Will likely depend on keyboard mouse primarily for input. Will see
            On a side note, I hate Steam. I posted this somewhere else to. They locked my account out after I literally hadn’t touched it for months, declaring potential fraud, and to re-activate my account, were forcing me to jump through hoops, wanting all my games license codes and purchase reciepts. I never got bothered and never used Steam again. They really pissed me off. And the Steam software glitched one of my games to, forcing it to run in a window, which was horrible. And I hate double log in’s just to play a single game. Log onto Steam to start a game, then log into a Live account to get my gaming stats. Argggh

          • http://www.2d-x.com/ Eric Guzman

            I’ve had nothing but great experiences with Steam sorry to hear the opposite friend. As for the rest, I don’t think we’d see to many threats of Viruses on Valve’s own Steam Box as it would run linux, and to those unaware Linux is highly secure and it would take user error to an infect your machine. Also Steam for Linux has picked up traction in the last month or so offering many more games than initially expected. I can see valve working on a polymorphic kit for developers in order to port games from Windows to Steam (We do know valve is tight with many developers!). I’ve been working on game development for a year now and I know developers won’t have to worry about programming “console like games”. If Valve continues their push they’ll receive the best of both worlds, better console ports like the recent (DmC, Street Fighter X Tekken), and still receive full fledged PC games. We won’t have to worry about controls Valve has stated that it will have a controller option and as it is now you can use a wired Xbox 360 controller, any USB fightstick, PC controllers, and PS3 Controllers.

            The issue for Valve arises with multiple SKU’s and form factor. That tiny Piston they showed at CES this year is underpowered for the 1k price, that is if its the same spec as Xi3′s similar model, (you’re paying for the form factor not the power). However if Valve can throw down a $500 dollar SKU with similar form factor to current PC’s (expandable memory, graphics and CPU) that users can easily upgrade then we will have a winner.

            From working in IT and being the “computer guy” to most of my friends and family I’ve found that many people are interested in PC gaming, but are highly intimidated by the thought of building one, or the stigma around the cost of buying a suitable gaming PC. Most of the fault go to the PC gaming elitist and the industry for not quelling these misconceptions. You can build a gaming PC that can run all the games out at the moment and function as a media center, word processing, jack of all trades that users might need. In all if Valve has an aggressive pricing plan and markets its Steam Box well I can definitely see PC gaming become a more main stream thing.