It has been a year since CES 2012 and Razer's announcement of Project Fiona. Now, Razer is starting to realise its ambitions. This week in Las Vegas, we saw the debut of the Razer Edge, the world's first dedicated gaming tablet. Powered by Intel and Nvidia, the Razer Edge is built from the ground up to be gamers' Windows 8 tablet of choice.
Windows 8 tablets are a hot segment of the market. Thus far, many of the tablets we've seen are mainstream units with standard issue processors and integrated graphics. The Razer Edge gives users the portability of the tablet form factor, but with the gaming class components necessary to play Windows games like Civilization V and Dishonored at full screen resolution, with most, if not all, the eye candy turned on.
The roughly 0.91kg tablet feels comfortable in the hand and Razer will also be offering gaming-oriented accessories, like the Gamepad Controller, which will cost $250, or £155 based on today's exchange rate. The Gamepad Controller has two side-mounted handles with analog thumbsticks, triggers on both handles, and action buttons below the thumbsticks. Any console gamer should be able to pick up the Razer Edge with controller and start playing instantly.
Gameplay on first-person shooters like Dishonored is fluid and comes naturally to anyone who grew up (or not) playing Halo. Even non accelerometer-optimised racing games like Dirt 3 should be fluid and natural considering the Razer Edge's controller setup. An extended battery option for $69 (£40) will help increase the one-to-two hour gaming battery life. Day-to-day tasks that don't use the graphics will let you use the Razer Edge about six hours on the standard battery.
Alone, the tablet works fine with simple touch games like Cut The Rope, but you can really take advantage of the Razer Edge's graphics prowess by loading a PC game like Civilization V, which offers a richer visual experience than the more retro-looking Civilization Revolution. Simple touch games are better left to the likes of the Microsoft Surface, the fourth-generation iPad, or Android tablets with lower-powered processors and graphics. The Razer Edge comes with a Core i5/i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics, which makes it as capable or more capable than 11in gaming ultraportable laptops. It's certainly easier to hold in your hands. Naturally, you don't need the Gaming Controller when playing touch-optimised games.
It's not just fun and games, though. The standard version of the Edge will feature a 64GB SSD and 4GB of RAM, while the Edge Pro will offer a 128GB/256GB SSD with 8GB of RAM, so both iterations match the specifications commonly found on full-blown PCs. The tablet has a USB 3.0 port for external storage and other gaming peripherals, and you'll also be able to hook up a mouse to the upcoming keyboard dock, which will cost $199 (£120) and transform the Razer Edge into a laptop, albiet an unhinged one.
If you need desktop-style usability, Razer is offering a Docking Station for $99 (£60), with three USB ports, as well as HDMI and audio ports. With second-screen capability, a gamer will be happy playing on the external screen with IM and browser tabs open on the tablet screen. The tablet screen offers a 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution. This is fine, since this allows the gamer to turn on more eye candy and still keep a decent frame rate. The Razer Edge will run you $999 (£620), while the Edge Pro costs $1,699 (£805). Availability has been cited as Q1 2013, though whether that includes the UK remains to be seen.
It was fun taking a look at the Razer Edge on the show floor and in a meeting room, and we hope to be able to get a hold of the tablet for a full review in the future.