Razer, best known for its line of gaming mice, sometimes uses CES to launch a product seemingly out of the company's realm. One year it was the Mako 2.1 speakers, which is still the only speaker set in Razer's product portfolio. And this year? Meet the Switchblade, a "mobile PC gaming concept design."
The Switchblade is basically a netbook of sorts custom tailored for gamers and built around Intel's Atom platform, likely Oak Trail. The idea is to bring a keyboard, mouse, and touchscreen display to mobile gaming, a combo that doesn't really exist with today's handheld consoles.
"The main problem with mobile PC gaming so far is that no one has been able to port the full mouse and keyboard experience onto a small size portable solution," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Creative Director, Razer. "By combining adaptive on-the-fly controls and display, we managed to maintain the full tactile keyboard in a miniature computer while saving valuable screen estate."
Not just an everyday netbook, the Switchblade comes with an "intelligent user interface that adjusts the configuration and key layout on-the-fly based on game content and user requirements" (the key graphics change, somewhat similar to the Optimus Maximum OLED keyboard), and it sports a custom overlay on top of Windows 7.
Razer on Thursday introduced its new Scarab mouse mat, the followup act to the Destructor. And you know what? This sequel doesn't suck, according to Razer, which said as much in so many words.
"Most of the time, sequels to great movies suck," Razer explains. "Normally, sequels to great books suck. Sometimes, sequels to great games suck. But what doesn't ever suck are sequels to Razer products. They just keep getting better."
Whether or not the price tag sucks, we'll let you be the judge. The Scarab runs $40, which isn't the most expensive mouse mat Razer offers. That investment buys you a mousepad with a Razer Fractal 2.0 surface coated in light gray providing a "highly responsive and uniform tracking system perfect for optical and laser mice sensors." The Scarab also sports an improved rubber base for greater stability and plenty of room (350mm x 250mm) for your mouse to roam around on.
The Razer Lachesis gaming mouse originally launched in 2007, with a dramatically curved, ambidextrous design and a 4,000dpi sensor. Three years later, Razer has released a new Lachesis, which is not so much a sequel as a refinement of the original.
The most important change in Lachesis 2.0 is the 5,600dpi sensor, which puts it on par with other top-end gaming mice. We don’t usually play at such a high sensitivity, but we tested it at dpi levels across the whole spectrum and found the Lachesis responsive and reliable.
Razer's new Nostromo Gaming Keypad is a new take on the original n52te SpeedPad it co-developed with Belkin a few years back. So what exactly is new?
"The Razer Nostromo is an update to this illustrious gaming keybpad to meet today's competitive gaming demands," Razer explains. "Building on the SpeedPad's proven ergonomic design, the Razer Nostromo incorporates the latest gaming technologies that Razer has developed over the past few years, including a new chipset and software drivers that allow all levels of gamers to program sophisticated command strings to help decimate their opponents."
The Nostromo sports 16 buttons in a layout designed to provide easy access, along with a soft-touch rubberized wrist pad so you can game well into the night without suffering wrist fatigue. Each button is programmable, and unlike the original, you can switch instantly between eight keymaps instead of just three. You can also store up to 20 gaming profiles, twice as many as the n52te.
At a glance, Razer's newly announced Anansi keyboard looks like any other modern gaming plank. Ask Razer, however, and they'll tell you the Anansi is the world's first MMO gaming keyboard, and a perfect compliment to the company's Naga MMO mouse line.
"The Razer Anansi gaming keyboard is the new weapon of choice for MMO gamers," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "Let’s face it, the regular keyboard that came with your PC was designed and built for typing, not for MMO gaming. With its revolutionary seven thumb modifier keys, every key combination that you had before is now multiplied by seven times. The Razer Anansi allows you to use every spell, ability or custom macro in your arsenal -- both instantly and in complete comfort."
Razer's Anansi sports seven thumb modifier keys, over 100 programmable "Hyperesponse" keys with on-the-fly macro recording, 20 gaming profiles with one-button profile switching, five additional gaming keys, customized backlight options, anti-ghosting, and a gaming mode that disables the Windows key.
Razer didn't become arguably the most popular gaming peripheral maker on the planet by accident, the company did it by pandering to its target audience. It started simple enough with the release of the Boomslang gaming mouse over a decade ago, and continues today with the announcement of a line of peripherals intended specifically for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty fans.
"We have been anticipating the moment we could get these gaming peripherals into the hands of gamers and StarCraft players," said Robert 'Razerguy' Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "We could not be more happy with the massive feedback we’ve received over the unique APM (Actions-Per-Minute) Lighting System feature and remarkable design. This new line offers StarCraft II players a great new way to complement and customize their real-time strategy gaming experience."
There are three StarCraft themed peripherals in all, including the Spectre gaming mouse ($80), Marauder keyboard ($120), and Banshee headset ($120). Each one sports the StarCraft II logo and multi-colored LEDs.
Look for these devices to start shipping in November.
We're not sure how PETA would feel about this one, but gamers who like to get their groove on without a tangle of wires will dig Razer's decision to chop the tail off of its Naga gaming mouse.
"With the Naga Epic, Razer gives MMO gamers around the world more freedom than ever before," said Robert Krakoff, President, Razer. "We combined the MMO gaming capabilities of the original best-selling Razer Naga and took it to the next level by giving it a true gaming-grade wireless option utilizing the same technology that we developed for the ultra high-end Razer Mamba."
Everything about the Naga remains the same, including the 17 MMO-optimized buttons, 5600dpi sensor, interchangeable side panels, and the ability to customize the color of the LED lighting.
Razer says the Naga Epic is good to game non-stop for up to 12 hours on a single charge, or up to 72 hours under "normal gaming usage."
The Naga Epic with charging dock is available now for $130.
It's hard not remain fixated on Razer's price tag for its new Ironclad mousepad. After all, at $60, it's pricier than some gaming mice. So we'll go ahead and get it out of our system now -- the ironclad if frakking expensive! We feel better now.
Moving on, the Ironclad is the only metal mat in Razer's lineup. Combined with a finely sandblasted surface, Razer promises it's all smooth sailing, quite literally.
"The Razer Ironclad stands apart from the pack because it delivers the highest form of comfort and long-lasting performance with its ultra-smooth surface and sturdy metal body," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "We understand the diversity of gamers out there, from ones who demand a large surface area to those who want superior tracking precision. We produced the Razer Ironclad to make winning feel easy, and give every type of gamer the feel, traction, and durability that they need to do so."
The Ironclad is made from anodized aluminum and "features a robust unibody construction for reinforced strength and extreme durability," as well as a non-slip rubber base. It measures 320mm (L) x 270mm (W) x 2.5mm (H), or 12.6 inches (L) x 10.6 inches (W) x 0.1 inches (H) for those who shake an angry fist at the metric system.
As if Razer's mice weren't distinct enough already, the gaming peripheral maker just added a bit of flair to its Naga Maelstrom and Naga Molten rodents with two new Special Edition versions.
"After the phenomenal response we received for the Razer Naga, we've decided to create two collectible versions to offer our fans even more ways to dominate their game," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer USA. "We took the same functionality of full button remapping and macro capabilities of the original Razer Naga and rejuvenated the aesthetic design for a more immersive MMO gaming experience."
The Special Edition Maelstrom sports a "whirlpool of entrancing blue light emanating from its swirling core," while the updated Molten "glows a wicked and fiery red hue" with buttons that glow crimson.
Other than the new digs, they're the same Naga hardware -- 17 programmable buttons (including a 12-button thumb grid), 5600dpi 3.5G laser sensor, 1000Hz ultrapolling, and optional MMO-specific software add-ons.
The Special Edition mice will ship in November for $80 each.
We fell in love with the click action of the Das Keyboard, which is largely attributable to the mechanical keys. A handful of copycats have since released mechanical keyboards of their own, but according to Razer, their new BlackWidow is the first one aimed exclusively at gamers.
"The Razer BlackWidow is the world's first mechanical keyboard that has been engineered from the ground up for gaming," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer. "Imagine every single key on the keyboard with the precision of a mouse click -- no more pressing of keys without knowing for certain if they have been actuated. Precision clicking coupled with an optimized lighter key actuation force, this changes the way gamers will play from now on."
Razer claims the BlackWidow is three years in the making, with part of that development time put into constructing mechanical keys that won't leave users feeling fatigued after extending typing/gaming sessions.
Other features include fully programmable keys with five additional gaming keys, on-the-fly macro recording, 1000Hz ultrapolling, easy access media keys, and a gaming mode option.
The BlackWidow is available now for $80. There's also an Ultimate edition for $130, which adds individually backlit keys with five levels of lighting, headphone/mic jacks, and an additional USB port.