CES: Hands-on with the Razer Edge
Today at CES, we got an opportunity to take a first look at Razer’s new Windows 8 gaming tablet, the Edge, which they’re calling the “most powerful tablet in the world.” With Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Nvidia’s GT 640M LE, and up to 8GB of RAM, it isn’t an overstatement. The company is demoing games like Dishonored, Dirt: Showdown, Civilization V, and Rift running at medium-to-high settings in each of the tablet’s four core modes — tablet, PC, console, and handheld. The variation really stems from how the tablet is paired with an array of optional accessories the company has produced, such as a docking station, side-mounted controllers, and a transforming keyboard.
Each mode is meant to demonstrate the device’s versatility and performance for any play style and game genre. The tablet mode is being shown with Civilization V, a touchscreen-optimized title, while Dirt: Showdown is used to show how the tablet can handle split-screen games output to an HDTV via HDMI. For more MMO-focused experiences, the company is using an add-on keyboard and Bluetooth mouse. And finally, to replicate the gamepad control scheme, the side-mounted controller cradle running Dishonored.
In each of the configurations, the Edge delivered great performance. Framerates were smooth and when we took a look at the graphics settings, each of the games were set to baseline or high. It is, in fact, the most powerful tablet on the market. But as we’ve learned, the Edge’s emphasis on performance has come at the cost of battery life and affordability. Razer has quoted the Edge at roughly one hour of battery life when playing games without the aid of a power cord or extended battery and roughly four to six hours for regular use. Razer will be selling an extended battery, which can be housed in each of its add-on accessories for $70, which adds another hour of playtime, bringing it to a maximum of 2 hours of gameplay. And then there’s the cost of the accessories themselves. While the Edge Pro comes with the controller add-on bundled in, it’ll cost $249.99 on its own, and the keyboard case and docking station will cost $199.99 and $79.99, respectively.
As for the system itself, the baseline Edge, which comes with 4GB of RAM, Intel’s Core i5 processor, 64GB of SSD storage, and Nvidia’s GT 640M LE chip, and no bundled in accessories has an MSRP of $999. Stepping up to the Edge Pro adds an Intel Core i7 processor, 128GB, 8GB of RAM, and an included controller cradle will cost $1,299, with 256GB of storage adding another $200. Given the quality and power of the hardware, the cost of the Edge is extremely competitive, but when you factor in all of the added accessories and the extended battery, to get the full experience, consumers must shell out more than $1,500.
And as exciting as a concept as the Edge is, we struggle to understand why it would or should replace your gaming laptop. Aside from the touchscreen interface, Razer’s Blade gaming laptop — and practically any other gaming laptop — offer the same functions, just in a different form factor. And often, at a lower cost. The Edge is unquestionably compact, but it is definitely the heftiest tablet we’ve used. But with the limited battery life and powerful specs generating a ton of heat, it doesn’t offer a ton of utility. The accessories, while well-constructed, are also somewhat jarring. The keyboard case is cramped and compact, though responsive. And the controller accessory is ergonomically confounding. The shoulder buttons are nearly out of reach and with the analog thumbsticks positioned so high, we found ourselves struggling to make quick taps to the d-pad or action buttons.
The most ideal setup we found was the console mode, which allows you to prop the Edge up and plug in USB peripherals — whether it be a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad. But if that’s the ideal configuration, again, we wonder why users wouldn’t be better suited with a laptop.
Though there are certainly with some glaring issues, Razer definitely deserves credit for the bold concept. It just needs refinement.
Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.
By Scott Lowe