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Hands on with the new Razer Blade, a gaming Ultrabook thinner than a Macbook Air

Alex Wawro | May 31, 2013
Razer takes aim at the ultraportable market with the new Razer Blade, a 14-inch gaming laptop that's thinner and lighter than the Macbook Air.

And if it seems a little strange to praise a laptop for its lightweight power adapter, well, you've probably never had to lug a laptop back and forth across the country.

The screen on the Razer Blade looks good when you're facing it dead on, but it looks washed out from almost any other angle.

Anyone who's carried a laptop during a cross-country expedition can also appreciate the value of a bright, sharp and (most importantly) shareable screen. The Razer Blade's 14-inch, 1600-by-900 resolution screen does most of that, delivering crisp, vibrant images under fluorescent office lighting, but only if you have the screen tilted just right. The optimal viewing angle on the Blade is pretty narrow, and colors quickly invert and wash out if you stray too far beyond it.

During our demo, I played through a tense underground fight sequence in Metro: Last Light, which ran smoothly on high settings at the Blade's native resolution. The deepest blacks of the underground tunnels looked a bit faded on the Blade's screen, but that may be no fault of the hardware, as PC demo units often have their brightness settings cranked up to maximum to catch your eye across a crowded conference room. The new 14-inch Blade also lacks the customizable OLED Switchblade keypad that graced the original Razer Blade, presumably due to size constraints.

Razer put out this promo shot to remind you that yes, despite naming their new 14-inch laptop the Razer Blade (pictured left), the old Razer Blade (on the right) is still available as the Razer Blade Pro.

The original 17-inch Razer Blade laptop isn't going anywhere. Razer rechristened it the Razer Blade Pro, and it's been spruced it up with the same CPU and GPU that power the Razer Blade, along with slew of new Switchblade templates for productivity apps-Photoshop, Premiere and the like.

Razer is also slashing the price of the Razer Blade Pro down to $2300, and selling it at an even deeper discount of $1000 to independent game developers with successful Kickstarter campaigns as part of Razer's new developer outreach program. Dubbed the Razer Education/Indie Discount program, it offers Razer products at discount prices to creative professionals-game developers, game design students and development staff-who successfully apply via the Razer website.

Debuting a premium Ultrabook in a PC market with an uncertain future is a bold move, but this isn't the first time Razer has pushed into a new market with high-priced hardware-the company built its reputation as a source of premium PC gaming hardware with quality mice and keyboards, then expanded into headsets and controllers before plunging into the shrinking PC market with the original Razer Blade gaming laptop and the Razer Edge Windows 8 tablet.


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