Razer is a company with serious balls. It isn't afraid of making crazy products you absolutely want to throw away your savings for. Razer's concept devices are products I'm always genuinely excited to check out amidst a sea of junky gadgets and accessories that fill the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES every January. For the last three years, Razer's CEO Min-Liang Tan has upped the bar on what to expect from the scrappy little gaming startup, which now has an ever-growing global cult fan base.
Min-Liang is a masterful tease on Twitter and Facebook and he knows how to get geeks (especially gaming ones) pumped up for products that may never even see the light of day outside of Razer's labs. This year is no different. At CES 2014, Min-Liang literally took the cover off his company's latest concept prototype: Project Christine, modular gaming PC designed for easy component swapping using proprietary modules. Clad in the company's signature black matte, Project Christine is unlike any gaming PC tower you've ever seen.
Its form factor is as much about accessibility and convenience, as it is about being a piece of art. Go ahead and look at the pics of Project Christine in the gallery below and tell us it's not a conversation starter. We think you'll agree that it's a work of art.
With Project Christine, Razer wants to make customizing and upgrading a PC as simple as plug-and-play. Upgrading a CPU, GPU, SSD or would be as easy as snapping off the module and popping on a new one. You don't need to open a case with any screwdrivers or mess around with wiring. No more fooling around with thermal paste and all of that stuff. Customization is quick and simple, so you can get on with more important matters, like gaming.
Min-Liang says the company's been secretly working on Project Christine for a little over two years, which make us really curious as to what he's working on now that he'll show at CES 2016.
Project Christine has no fans. The modules use a proprietary military-spec dripless plug so that the mineral-oil inside — used for cooling its factory overclockable components — doesn't leak out. It's also said to have built-in noise cancellation. The concept PC features PCI-express architecture to quickly and automatically sync each new module and is Quad SLI capable. There's also a small LED touchscreen to show relevant PC data. This thing doesn't just look like it came from the future, it's designed for futureproofing.
Like Project Fiona, Project Christine is just a concept right now. Will it ever make into production? Razer isn't sure yet. If the fans want it (and they always do) and it's cost-effective to build it, it's very possible that Project Christine will become a real product. Or its design will be incorporated into a new product, similar to the way the Switchblade concept's adaptive buttons eventually made its way onto Razer's Blade Pro gaming notebook. And if we were to make a good guess, we'd say a production Project Christine tower and its proprietary modules would be expensive.
While Project Christine is but a mere concept product (for now), Razer also announced a smaller product called the Nabu smartband (don't call it a smartwatch says Min-Liang). Three and a half years in the making, the Nabu resembles a NIke Fuelband, but with OLED two screens; one on the top and one on the bottom. Wearable tech (be it Google Glass-like eyewear or smartwatches or fitness trackers) are expected to be huge this year and Razer is diving right in before it gets too crowded.
The Nabu syncs to smartphones (Android and iOS) using Bluetooth and relays "public" notifications such as calls, text messages, email and app updates to the top screen. The bottom screen is reserved for "private" notifcations that show more details on messages, emails, contacts, etc. Razer's smartband also has a bunch of sensors that track everything from your heartrate to the amount of steps you walked. Furthermore, Nabu can be used to establish digital friendships on social networks such as Facebook with a handshake.
The developer version of the Nabu will launch by the end of Q1 for an affordable $49. What does the Nabu have to do with gaming? Nothing really yet, but Razer is tossing the Nabu out to the community with an open development platform to see what kinds of integration and apps they'll come up with. We're willing to bet some of those apps will be gaming related.
Posted on location at CES 2014. All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.