Hardcore gamers have traditionally looked down on games on tablets and smartphones: after all, why would we want to play Angry Birds or Tiny Tower when we could play “real” games on our laptops or dedicated gaming handhelds? Of course, the laptop and gaming handheld markets are rapidly being eroded away by newer, faster mobile devices, and gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer is hoping to ease gamers into the tablet-based future with the Razer Edge, the world’s first true gaming tablet.
In case you missed the news from earlier in the week, the Razer Edge is a Windows-based tablet that has enough horsepower to run most recent PC games. The Edge untis on display in Razer’s booth were equipped with games like Dishonored, Civilization 5 and Dirt 3, and all the games ran amazingly well. While there was some occasional slowdown and screen tearing when things got really hectic, and for the most part playing Dishonored or Dirt 3 on the Edge felt identical to playing them on a console, and they managed to even look slightly better as well.
Games on the Edge can be controlled a variety of ways: traditionalists can plug in a USB mouse and keyboard and use the Edge as a replacement for their gaming laptops, and slower paced games like Civ can be played entirely using the tablet’s touch screen. Razer will also sell a dual analog controller “cradle” (pictured above,) which sort of makes the Edge look like a giant Wii U controller. I found this control option to be the most uncomfortable: the Razer is loaded with hardware so it’s already a fair bit heavier than your usual tablet, and the added weight of the controller cradle just made it uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time. Now, to be fair, I have out-of-shape, wussy nerd arms, but I can’t imagine anyone but ‘roided out bro’s being comfortable with this control option for lengthy play sessions.
Thankfully, the Edge also supports USB controllers, and with the added TV dock, you can basically use it as a replacement for your console or living room PC as well: the Edge still managed to output better than console quality graphics when hooked up to a big 1080p TV, and there weren’t any noticeable sacrifices in picture quality or framerate when the Edge outputted an image on the TV screen and on the tablet at the same time.
The Razer Edge was definitely impressive, but as with all Razer products, it’s pretty pricey: the basic version of the tablet itself will run you about $1000, the TV dock costs an additional hundred, and the wrap-around controller costs an insane $250 for some reason. The Edge’s powerful hardware also drains its battery extremely quickly, and by Razer’s own estimates you won’t get more than an hour out of each charge. Of course, Razer is more than happy to sell you an extended battery for your Edge, but that’ll cost you another $69.
With it’s high price and barely-there battery life, I don’t think gaming tablets are quite ready to replace traditional PC’s, gaming laptops, and consoles just yet, but the Edge’s power is still definitely impressive. While you could buy every console on the market right now or build a pretty great gaming PC for the same price (probably even less,) the Razer Edge does everything those devices do and manages to package them all together in one sleek tablet, and for some that versatility and convenience will be worth the price. I probably won’t get an Edge myself when it comes out, but I’m definitely excited to see what future gaming tablets will be like — if they manage to combine the Edge’s power with a better battery, I can definitely see tablets like the Edge overtaking traditional gaming hardware in no time.