PC gaming is poised to break free from the desktop--it just needs a device that delivers fast frame rates and lush graphics in an affordable, portable package. Enter the Razer Edge Pro, a Windows 8 tablet built expressly for playing PC games on the go. The hardware even comes with an optional controller accessory that turns the tablet into a handheld game console.
But Razer's pitch goes way beyond gaming. The company is marketing the Edge Pro as a multi-purpose machine that can replace your laptop, desktop, tablet, and, yes, even your Xbox, PS3 and Wii. After using the premier version of Razer's new tablet as my primary device for a week, I think it comes close to delivering on its multi-disciplinary promise--if you're willing to make some compromises.
First, the good news: It works. Thanks to a Core i7 processor and discrete Nvidia graphics, the tablet is powerful enough to run Far Cry 3 and Dishonored at decent frame rates. And thanks to Windows 8 Pro, it can run legacy desktop applications, including essential gaming utilities like Steam, uPlay and the launchers for World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2. The Edge Pro also easily chews through productivity applications, handling the processor-intensive Photoshop with aplomb.
The bad news: Whether you're playing games, watching movies, editing images, or writing tablet reviews, the Edge Pro requires significant compromises. In terms of raw processing performance, sure, the tablet can do everything. But in terms of ergonomics, convenience, display quality and price, the tablet falls short of more specialized, cheaper devices. We reviewed the highest spec'ed version of the Edge Pro, and at $1450, it proved to be a luxury product for hardcore PC gamers only.
But at least it's a luxury product that solves a nagging PC gaming problem: Finding killer performance in a reasonably portable package.
Durable chassis with a disappointing display
Compared to the Surface Pro, Razer's matte black Edge Pro feels chubby. It weighs roughly 2.25 pounds and measures just over 20 mm thick, whereas Microsoft's high-end tablet is just 2 pounds and 13.5 mm thick. Razer's tablet is durable: it doesn't have the advantage of Gorilla Glass or a fancy VaporMg chassis, but it survived a week gallivanting around San Francisco in my crowded messenger bag without so much as a scratch. Its composite aluminum body feels cheap to the touch, yet holds up under significant wear and tear.
Even when using the Edge Pro as a regular Windows 8 tablet, sans accessories, the weight of the hardware is noticeable.
While certainly functional, the Edge Pro's 10.6-inch, 1366-by-768 pixel screen is a letdown when watching movies, playing games or doing pretty much anything that's predicated on visual fidelity--in short, everything that the Edge Pro is designed to excel at. It's a serviceable platform for playing Skyrim, but I can't help but envy the iPad's Retina display or even the bright, 1920-by-1080 screen on the Surface Pro. The Edge Pro looks shabby by comparison, and it's just not bright enough to use in direct sunlight. This is hardly a deal-breaker, but it does mean you'll need to draw the shades during daylight gaming sessions.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.