Many people are familiar with Razer as a gaming peripherals company, making desktop and laptop parts designed to optimize gaming experience and ergonomics. This year, however, the company sought to expand its horizon and actually released its first full-fledged gaming machine: The Razer Blade
It’s a name that any 5th grader can come up with, yes; but you have to admit it’s kind of appropriate in a way. At the very least, it’s fitting for a product that’s supposedly the company’s flagship.
Naming conventions aside, what seals the deal for consumers is if a laptop can walk the walk. Unfortunately, while the Blade wasn’t dismal in any way, it wasn’t exactly a standout either. Its laptop components were by no means weak, but more powerful ones could be had with other desktop replacements; and at cheaper prices to boot (the Samsung Series 7 Gamer comes prominently to mind).
The Second Coming
Since the Blade was supposedly a flagship product, Razer decided to rectify the situation even before the year was up. A mere six months after the Razer Blade’s release, we are now bestowed with the, um, Razer Blade.
It’s hard to classify (and name) this latest Blade iteration because its screen’s dimensions are exactly the same as the first, and both were released this year, making the usual naming conventions moot. Hell, even Apple had the decency to unofficially dub their latest tablet the “new iPad” (with a small “n”) despite the awkward status of the product’s official name.
On the flipside, the second Blade can’t be called a mere re-release either, since almost every laptop part has received an overhaul. So for lack of a better name, let’s just call it the “Blade 2.0” for now (you know, since “new” was already taken and everything).
Big League Boost
The upgraded Razer has a quad-core 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM CPU, 8 GB of 1,600 MHz DDR3 RAM, a 512 GB 7,200 rpm hybrid hard drive with a 64 GB solid state drive, and a 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M GPU. To augment these, the laptop also has an Intel HM77 chipset with integrated HD 4000 graphics. These laptop components put the Blade 2.0 in closer contention with the other lauded laptops in the desktop replacement category.
No doubt the touted selling point of the Blade (even with the original one) is its Switchblade UI feature. On the surface, the nifty user interface has the touchpad act like a mini second screen, primed for programs that incorporate such a feature. It also makes the Blade Windows 8-capable despite lacking a touchscreen; the Switchblade UI acts as a touchscreen substitute, where finger motions done on the small display translate directly as motions made on the main screen.
It would seem only Windows 8 users will benefit from the Switchblade, though. Programs that have second screen functions are few and far between. And even then, Switchblade program defaults like Facebook and Twitter use the second screen as nothing more than a display that shows what you see on the mobile versions (for tablets and smartphones) of said programs, anyway. That’s hardly an innovation in most people’s books.
A few games like Valve’s Team Fortress 2 and EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic do make use of the second screen, but they are the exceptions rather than the rule. Until the second screen function becomes a hardware staple for all gaming machines, don’t count on game developers incorporating it in their multi-platform creations. As it stands, only games exclusively made for consoles with second screen functions (like the Wii U and a PS3-PS Vita link-up) use the feature.
Still, if you’re planning on installing Windows 8, and/or you’re that optimistic about second screen functions integrated into more near-future games, then this Blade just might cut it for you.