NVIDIA's Project SHIELD isn't the only new PC gaming portable announced at CES 2013. Razer's unusual Project Fiona tablet concept is back with a new name, faster guts and a few welcome tweaks to make it more portable.
Four Different Modes To Suit Any Need
Whereas Fiona originally had two analog handles permanently attached to its display, the Edge Pro has supporting accessories to give it different functions.
The first is "Tablet Mode." As its name suggests, it works like a standard tablet with a sharp 10.1-inch IPS display (1366 x 768 resolution). The 10-point capacitative touchscreen is responsive and scrolling, swiping and taps are pretty smooth.
The second mode is "Keyboard Mode." An optional keyboard dock (sold separately) can be attached to the Edge Pro to convert it into a notebook. We appreciate the thought, but the keyboard we saw looked a bit cramped, and a keyboard can make a big difference with a lot of PC games..
The third mode is "Mobile Console Mode." In this mode, the Edge Pro clips into a gamepad attachment that adds dual analog sticks, a D-pad, four action buttons, two pairs of shoulder buttons and a pair of trigger buttons on the back.
Finally, the Edge Pro can be put into "Home Console Mode." Because the Edge Pro has a full-sized USB 3.0 port, it can support USB controllers, which essentially turns the tablet into a game console. In this particular mode, we saw some serious lag issues; Razer says the software is still being tweaked ahead of launch.
Overall, the Edge Pro tries to do a lot of things and is versatile for it, and it's an interesting proposition as a gaming portable against something like a laptop.
Razer packed its Edge Pro with a dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE graphics chip, Intel HD4000 integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB or 256GB SSD storage, and a full-sized USB 3.0 port. On top of that, it runs Windows 8, has stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater v4 support and a 2-megapixel HD front-facing camera. That's all fantastic on paper, priced starting at $1,299.
As a tablet, it's a bit off-putting that the tablet is so thick and heavy. A sleek iPad or Galaxy Tab tablet the Edge Pro is not, but it's also built to provide an experience those can't. Thinking of it as a laptop, it's comparable to a MacBook Pro.
The Ultimate Test
What matters the most is how the Edge Pro handles games.
We saw Dishonored, which definitely requires a bit of muscle to run, and its performance felt closer to a console's than a full PC tower geared for gaming, and a racing demo lagged when controlled with a USB gamepad.
The Edge Pro's big weakness is its battery. Razer says the Edge Pro can only manage one to two hours of PC gaming. With Retina iPads pushing 10 hours of battery life and NVIDIA's SHIELD promising between five and 10 hours of gaming, the Edge Pro's lack of portability is pretty glaring. There is supposed to be a $69 extra battery that will fit the Edge Pro's gamepad and keyboard, and it reportedly doubles the battery life.
Razer is pricing the Edge Pro at $1,299 for a 128GB model and $1,449 for a 256GB model for a launch in the first quarter of the year. Razer will also be selling a bundle with the gamepad controller attachment for $1499 with a 128GB Edge Pro and $1,649 with a 256GB Edge Pro. For the most basic model, just Edge with half the RAM and storage and a Core i5, instead, the price drops to $999.
See more of the Edge Pro in our gallery and video below.
Posted on location at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. All photos, video taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.