PC Gaming With Razer Switchblade

Razer's booth here on the CES show floor, and were presented with a fairly technical talk surrounding the newly launched Switchblade. While officially deemed a concept, we came away with a serious impression that Razer's not investing loads of time and money on this just for kicks. In other words, we'd cautiously expect to see this thing on sale at some point next year -- but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We spent a good half-hour toying with this Windows 7-based mini netbook, and we came away seriously impressed by what's happening here. Head on past the break for more of our impressions.

We're told that the design seen here is fairly close to what it'll look like when it hits mass production, and for those questioning Razer's ability to actually build a computer, we're told that the company pulled in talent from the team previously assigned to OQO in order to get the requisite pieces in place. 'Course, no one at Razer would admit that the Switchblade actually has a future on retail shelves, but we'd bet cold, hard cash that it will.

But unlike the UMPCs and MIDs that never really caught traction years back, this one has a very specific purpose: gaming on the go. And it's well equipped to handle it. A full-on copy of Windows 7 is loaded on, and Razer's happy to let users surf around on the standard desktop if they so choose. If not, Razer's created an in-house overlay that makes access to the internet, media, games, etc. a cinch. Quite frankly, it's one of the most stunning overlays we've seen -- it's lightweight, non-intrusive, and it actually makes using a machine of this size more practical.

Since there's a bona fide copy of Win7 underneath, you can hook up any USB peripheral you'd like: a keyboard, mouse, webcam, whatever. There's also a front-facing webcam along the top edge of the LCD, and it'll ship with Bluetooth and WiFi radios within. Oh, and then there's the topic of 3G. The company's still working through details, but there's a fair chance that a 3G and non-3G version will be available.

The company informed us that a "magical" LCD is on the lower half, with enough physical keys here to create a standard English keyboard. While typing, it feels almost exactly like any other chiclet keyboard, and we never actually felt as if the keys were overly cramped.

Switchblade concept at its booth. Its word? Well, let's just say we got a strong vibe that Oak Trail is being used, but don't quote us there. Or do. Your call. The graphics on World of Warcraft were impressive, and while gameplay wasn't perfectly smooth on the prototype, it was more than playable. And by the time Razer actually gets around to shipping it, we're guessing it'll be improved further. There's likely still a bit of driver work to be ironed out. The software overlay was beautiful, responsive to swipes and perfectly laid out.

Portable devices that are actually powerful enough to get work done, and to engage in games during your downtime. Razer also wouldn't commit to a battery life figure; it's clear that the company's still working on improving those figures, and we're hoping that they can squeeze out three to four hours of gaming (and more when just browsing the web).

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