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.
- 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
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.
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?