Could This Be The Perfect Portable Gaming PC?

Perhaps the most innovative bit of gaming tech at this year's Consumer Electronics Show is a palm-sized, touch-screen gaming PC that comes packed with a keyboard that can transform on the fly.

But Razer isn't even sure they're going to be able to sell the Switchblade micro laptop.

Robert Krakoff, president of the computer accessory company, tells Kotaku that a lot is still up in the air about the slick prototype that's garnering a lot of buzz at this week's Vegas show.

Razer hasn't settled on the system specs of the Intel Atom chip laptop, or the price, or if they'll be able to solve a heat issue they're running into.

If the hurdles can be overcome, the device looks like it could be the perfect travelling companion for the PC gamer on the go.

The device, about the size of a small hardback when folded up, opens to show a 7-inch touchscreen and a smallish keyboard. The keys on the keyboard can all change on the fly to show anything from a standard text English-language keyboard to gaming icons to anything picture a modder whats to slap into a key.

Instead of relying on an expensive array of tiny LCD screens built into each button, the Switchblade has a second 7-inch LCD located under the keyboard buttons. The LCD can show a different picture for each button, which is projected up into the surface of the button, delivering the same effect as the mini-LCD approach.

Krakoff said they haven't decided yet if the device will be upgradable or have fixed system specs, but judging by the complexity of the design, I suspect it will shipped with a fixed chipset and memory. We know it will have an Atom CPU, perhaps in the 2Ghz range, but we don't know how much memory yet.

It also seems that Krakoff wants to make sure the Razer device has significant support within the gaming industry before they launch it. I asked if there was potential for the device, which runs on Windows 7 and has a custom user interface, to be branded. For instance, could there be a World of Warcraft or Blizzard Switchblade in the future, or perhaps a Switchblade that comes preloaded with Valve's game-download service Steam.

Krakoff says they haven't cut any deals yet, but that they're showing it around.

Valve's Gabe Newell seems extremely impressed with the devices potential, he said. The famed developer wanted to know if the device really worked, if it was doable.

Krakoff says that they're shooting for a system that will be able to play most games when it hits, but likely not something as high end as the latest Crysis.

Another significant question is how much Razer will sell the device for. Krakoff wouldn't say, but with Netbooks hovering in the sub-$US500 range, I'd think the Switchblade would have to be in there too.


Comments

    Haha. I remember all the negative press Kotaku gave miniature gaming laptops a few months ago. Did those manufacturers not pay, guys? I hope you enjoy your Razer money for doing this backflip.

    The second LCD as a changeable keyboard is a nice idea, but I have my doubts of this taking off. I mean, what PC games can be effectively run without a mouse? And if you need a mouse, the you need a desk to roll it on. If you're at a desk, then how is this any better than just a small, light laptop?

    I imagine this is simply where netbooks would be heading anyway, as more powerful processors became available.

    Better idea IMO to patent the keyboard idea into an existing brand.

      There is the keyboard already available on Thinkgeek.com

      For $1600

    Repost? Anyway it'd probably need one of those 3G mabobs. The main problem is lag.

    There's the 11inch dell one, which is like 1.2k aus, which is rediculous, its a lot closer to the 500 buck netbook range in the US.

    With a bit of hardware modding and some coding i got a libretto running at 2.0Ghz with 4gb ram running WoW and using an attached Wimax modem (providing approx speeds of 5-12Mb/s)coded a simply UI mod for wow and a "keyboard emulator" means i can have 15 spell buttons 4 WASD keys a TAB key (labeled "target") and a fully functional touchpad.

    The only downside is i had to spend approx $500 on the parts needed to completely mod the device (including the horrible design of the mainboard).

    I also have plans to integrate a wireless xbox controller so i just plop it down as a screen and start playing but im having trouble with building a capable reciever.

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