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Relatively portable x86 gaming tablet is a dream for gamers, but very different from the iPad

Founded in 1998, gaming-electronics firm Razer built a strong name for itself in the peripherals realm and has today branched out into its own branded gaming PCs.  Its latest effort lands this week -- a gaming geared (x86) Windows 8 tablet named the "Razer Edge".

The tablet started shipping this week; the peripherals for it (read on to find out more) should be shipping in the next couple weeks.  And while Windows 8 tablets have struggled in the market, this Razer tablet does provide an interesting alternative to the market leading Apple, Inc. (AAPLfourth-generation iPad or Google Inc.'s (GOOG) aggressively priced Android-powered Nexus 7.

The device is pretty thick and heavy -- but packs powerful hardware.  It weighs approximately 2.1 lb (33.6 oz.) and measures 278.5 mm x 178.85 mm x 19.5 mm / 10.9" x 7" x .80".
Razer Windows 8
The screen is a 10.1-inch 1366x768 pixel multi-touch display (a bit lacking compared to the 2048x1536 pixel panel found in the iPad).  
Razer Edge
Under the hood is an Intel Corp. (INTC22 nm Ivy Bridge Chip -- either the i5-3317U (dual-core; 1.5 GHz std.; 2.6 GHz turbo) or the i7-3517U (dual-core; 1.9 GHz std; 3.0 GHz turbo).  That powerhouse is paired with a Kepler mobile GPU -- NVIDIA Corp.'s (NVDA) GeForce 640M LE graphics chip (with 2 GB of DDR3 graphics memory).  There's a 2 MP front-facing HD webcam, an 802.11 b/g/n adapter (no 802.11 ac support), and Bluetooth 4.0 support.

Ivy Bridge
The Razer Edge packs a dual-core Ivy Bridge chip (quad-core die pictured).
[Image Source: Intel]

Overall, the Razer Edge comes up a bit short compared to the latest iPad in several categories -- battery life, screen resolution, thickness (the Razer Edge is almost as thick as three fourth-gen iPads stacked and weighs more than three iPads), and lack of a cellular modem option.

However, the Edge does offer some interesting opportunities.  First, it's available with some unique gaming geared peripherals.  The first is a $250 USD handle-style controller, which has handholds on either side of the screen, with buttons on the handles.
Razer Edge controller handles
Alternatively you can pick up a $100 USD docking station, which charges the Edge, while offering two extra USB 3.0 ports compatible with either a keyboard/mouse combo or a pair of $80 USD Razer Elite Windows GamePads for multiplayer-gaming.  The dock also has HDMI out, so you can game on your big screen. Razer Edge controllers
Note, there's no shortage of relatively cheap gaming controllers for the iPad, but the experience of most iOS games is less geared towards them control-wise versus PC games (which often are made with controller-using gamers in mind).  Also, the Razer Edge's handle's controller is pretty unique.

When it comes to pricing, there're three different SKUs.  $1000 USD buys you 4 GB of DDR3 DRAM, 64 GB, and the i5 CPU; $1300 USD buys you 8 GB of DDR3 DRAM, 128 GB, and the i7 CPU; and $1450 USD buys you 8 GB of DDR3 DRAM, 256 GB, and the i7 CPU.

Aside from the peripherals, the Razer Edge allows you to play full PC gaming titles -- offering you much more gaming-wise than the iPad.  And the x86 CPU and Windows 8 means that you can install Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Office suite and get "real work" done between the gaming.

Here's a quick comparison with the 128 GB iPad:
iPad v. Razer Edge
(Click to enlarge)

Razer just announced that integration with Valve's Steam service will be fully supported.  The tablet is capable of playing many titles that nearly no other tablet could -- such as DiRT 3, Civilization V, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Portal 2, and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

AnandTech reports the battery life to be around 4-5 hours versus 15 hours with the latest iPad.  Despite its high price and weaknesses, AnandTech's Vivek Gowri concludes, "The Edge feels like a PC-iPad-PSP mashup from the future, and it's incredibly exciting. As much as it was hyped up with all the CES awards and social media marketing push, Razer has created a fascinating gaming machine that could change the way we view portable gaming going forward."

Sources: Razer [1], [2], AnandTech

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I wonder
By bug77 on 4/1/2013 9:33:21 AM , Rating: 2
The iPad may pack a 2048x1536 panel, but are there mobile GPUs capable of pushing that many pixels? My money is on iPads using the same trick as Retina Macbooks (namely, the resolution is actually 1024x768, only each pixel is rendered as a 2x2 matrix).

RE: I wonder
By Shadowself on 4/1/2013 10:24:37 AM , Rating: 2
The Retina Macbooks do not natively 2x2 matrix the pixels. That is an option you can choose, but native, default resolution is a true 2880x1800. Some software (actually a LOT of the software) does not take advantage of that much resolution (including some graphics programs and some common browsers) but that's not the OS or hardware's fault.

Similarly, the iPad 4 really does support 2048x1536 although a significant fraction of the software in Apple's App store cannot take advantage of that native resolution. And with regard to the question about the A6X pushing that many pixels. Yes it can, and it does.

However, read Anand's latest report on tablet GPUs. The A6X, while miserly with power and good at putting out minimal heat, is not even in the same league as the 640m.

RE: I wonder
By bug77 on 4/1/2013 11:00:48 AM , Rating: 1
RE: I wonder
By Shadowself on 4/1/2013 11:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
There are so many things wrong with that article I don't really know where to start.

Let's just start with a very simple thing: There are FIVE scaled resolutions you can pick. Not four. This is in a simple screen resolution control panel. How they got this simple thing wrong is amazing. Clearly the person who wrote the article has never even played with a Retina MacBook Pro or even done a simple search on the net. (You can find screen captures of this control panel all over the place. Hell, the article you link to even links to an article with a screen capture of the FIVE scaled resolutions.)
By default, the 13-Inch and 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models run "pixel doubled" at 1280x800 and 1440x900, respectively. Each just has four times the detail of a "traditional" display -- which looks quite attractive, but some users no doubt would like to see more at one time than fits on the screen at this resolution.
This paragraph is pure nonsense. If you are doing "pixel doubled", i.e., each pixel is made up of four individual pixels, then you don't get "four times the detail of a 'traditional' display". That's just NOT how it works. Never has. Never will. You just get a 2x2 pixel that looks like one pixel.

What the author MIGHT be trying to describe, but very badly, is what happens when the iPad Retina Macbook Pro tries to render images for software that does not support the full resolution. The OS does do the 2x2 blocking. The software just does not provide enough information to do the finer resolution. That is the native way the OS does put up the imagery. It is no different than is done with the iPad 4 rendering apps that were developed for the iPad 1 or 2 but not updated for the iPad 4. The pixels are just doubled horizontally or vertically.

Just read the article linked to by the article that you linked to. That article clearly states (and attempts to show) that with updated software the full resolution (not 2x2 blocked!) is available to any updated software. There are other articles about this too.

RE: I wonder
By bug77 on 4/1/2013 12:14:48 PM , Rating: 2
If you're referring to this:

surely you can there's a screenshot with only four options.

Here's an additional article saying you have to hack the OS to get 2880x1800:

RE: I wonder
By Nortel on 4/1/2013 12:27:18 PM , Rating: 1
Your entire argument was based upon:
but are there mobile GPUs capable of pushing that many pixels?

And then you proceed to show how you can use software on a 13" MBP retina to... push that many pixels. Are you trying to prove your own point or are you just talking for no reason?

RE: I wonder
By bug77 on 4/1/2013 12:39:00 PM , Rating: 2
No, I'm pretty sure it will choke at 2880x1800.

I was just pointing out how Apple is tricking users. Again.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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