The death of PC gaming, it turns out, will be stopped by a new, multiscreen, ultra-thin, 17-inch $2,800 laptop from Razer.
Accessory-maker Razer today unveiled their first laptop, codenamed the Blade. The laptop was developed with NVIDIA and Intel and features a Intel Core i7 processor, a "high performance" NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor, an LED-backlit 17-inch screen, weighs less than 7 pounds and is .88-inches thick. The laptop also includes the "Switchblade" UI which allows you to put hotkeys, macros and skills on 10 adaptive tactile keys with matching icons. Beneath that, an ultra-sensitive LCD multi-touch panel displays in-game info such as quests and chat messages. It can also be used as a multi-touch track pad.
The device's power supply is also surprisingly small for such a powerful rig. It's 5.9 x 2.3 inches, .7 inches thick and weighs 0.7 pounds. The device's battery life is 2 1/2 to six hours depending on what you are doing, we were told. (Six hours is if the computer is idling, 2 1/2 if you are playing a "hardcore" game.)
The news comes as the countdown ends on the PC Gaming is Not Dead website created by Razer earlier this month.
Speaking to a gathering of press in Seattle today, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan asked "when was the last time any of us was really passionate about a laptop or a desktop from the PC space?" "Not ever. It's been a long, long time," he answered.
Unveiling the Blade, which he said was made by a "Razer stealth division", Tan said it is the "world's first true gaming laptop."
"That's a pretty audacious, a pretty ballsy statement for us to make," he said. But it fits the title because it has true portability, incredible performance and revolutionary user interface, he added.
Availability: North America Q4 2011
· 2.8GHz Intel® Core™ i7 2640M Processor
· 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 Memory
· 17.3" LED Backlit Display (1920x1080)
· NVIDIA GeForce® GT 555M with NVIDIA® Optimus™ Technology
2GB Dedicated GDDR5 Video Memory
· Built-in HD Webcam
· Integrated 60Wh Battery
· 320GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
· Wireless Network 802.11 b/g/n Compatible
· Battery: 6 hours idle, 2 1/2 if playing "hardcore" game.
· 16.81" (Width) x 10.9" (Depth) x 0.88" (Height); 6.97lbs (Weight)
Tan showed off a mode which used the Blade's second, 4-inch wide, multitouch screen, as a touchpad that can detect fully customizable gestures. In one example we were described, a gamer used a two-finger swipe to trigger a fast long turn in an first-person shooter. A single-finger swipe still had the effect of moving the view at a regular speed.
Another mode turned that same screen into a video player displaying first in-game stats and later a YouTube tutorial for Portal 2, while Portal 2 was running on the main screen. You can also use that second screen to run a media app that will let you play music through it.
The laptop is an iteration of the Razer Switchblade, a micro notebook with customizable LED keys that puts PC gaming in the palm of players' hands, was introduced back in January at CES. At the time I had a chance to speak with Robert Krakoff, president of Razer, about his hopes for the slick prototype.
That early version is about the size of a small hardback when folded up. It opened to show a 7-inch touchscreen and a smallish keyboard. The keys on the keyboard can all change on the fly to show anything from a standard text English-language keyboard to gaming icons, to anything a modder whats to slap into a key.
At the time Krakoff said he wanted to make sure the Razer device has significant support within the gaming industry before they launched it. I asked if there was potential for the device, which runs on Windows 7 and has a custom user interface, to be branded. For instance, could there be a World of Warcraft or Blizzard Switchblade in the future, or perhaps a Switchblade that comes preloaded with Valve's game-download service Steam.
"We believe in continuing to innovate for the PC, in continuing to design for PC gamers," Tan said as he wrapped up the day's press conference. "And we believe that today we will show that PC gaming is not dead."