When Razer launched their pcgamingisnotdead.com teaser site last weekend, I assumed it was going to be about some new high-end peripheral--the kind of thing the company's famous for. When they went a step further, and took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal I started to think this must be something more. You don't normally see that kind of promotion for just another mouse or keyboard, and besides, as Maximum PC's peripheral reviewer, I probably would have heard about something like that in advance.
Then, on Tuesday, I got a chance to see Razer's new product. And while I'm not sure it'll be the sole savior of PC gaming, it is something pretty unexpected. Meet the Blade, the first gaming laptop from Razer. This isn't just another gaming notebook, though--read on to find out why.
The Razer Blade (get it?) is gaming laptop, to be sure, but at first glance you can tell that it's a breed apart from the sort of behemeth desktop replacements you expect from brands like Alienware. The Blade still packs a 17-inch screen, making it quite large, but the whole package is remarkably thin (for a gaming laptop) and light. At 0.88 inches in height and 6.9 lbs weight, the Blade is thinner and slightly heavier than the MacBook Pro 17 inch model, which it otherwise resembles. From the unibody-style shell to the recessed keyboard, it's clear that Razer took some inspiration from Apple's flagship laptop.
The other unique feature of the Blade's construction can be found to the right of the keyboard: an auxiliary-screen-slash-trackpad and 8 bindable buttons that can be customized to display icons from whatever game you're playing. These elements seem taken directly from the Switchblade concept Razer showed off at CES this year. They look like they could be cool, but we'll have to see how the software support for them pans out before we can jump to any conclusions.
Internally, the Blade is powered by an i7-2640M dual-core 2.8GHz CPU, 8GB of memory, and an NVIDIA 555M discrete GPU. In other words, less power than what you'd get in a similarly-priced, less-portable gaming laptop from a different brand. I watched the Blade play current titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops at high settings with a good framerate, and Razer says it'll be ready to play Battlefield 3, but I can't help but wonder how future-proof this hardware is.
Finally, there's the price: you'll be able to buy the Blade by the end of this year for $2800. At that price, the Blade is an interesting proposition. Will gamers pay top-dollar for a laptop with a great form factor, but not top-end internals? Would you?