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Razer Edge Tablet and Gamepad Controller ‘Hands On’ Impressions

By Radford C. On Jan 15, 2013 0

RAZER EDGE IMPRESSIONS

The Razer Edge is the company’s foray into the tablet gaming market – a space that sidesteps iPad as a competitor. Armed with Windows 8, the Razer Edge allows the sideloading of apps and games from older versions of Windows. Of course, you could argue that the iPad has ‘hardcore’ games thanks in part to releases like Bastion and the Infinity Blade series but it’s safe to say that in terms of sheer availability of PC games, the Windows OS is not short of them. For those looking for the Razer Edge Pro, you’re going to have to wait awhile. While the Edge Pro does boast more horsepower, the Edge gives us a baseline of what to expect from both tablets.

It’s designed to pave the way for another niche market that has the buying power to bring what hardcore gamers might want.

When you first look at the tablet, the first impression is that it’s more thick than most tablets of the mainstream tablets we’re seeing today which is somewhat contradicting of its namesake but after playing games on the tablet, we figured that its name had another meaning.

The Edge feels slightly heavier than other tablets with similar screen sizes. It’s also a fingerprint magnet as evidenced through our own shots but a quick wipe was easy to get it back to glossy status. Its warm touch from the rear side where the logo resides and the top vents suggest that that the tablet is pushing some serious processing power. And after checking out its specs, it’s all true. This tablet has an Intel i7 and a GeForce GT640M which is pretty ridiculous for the amount of power in a form factor of this type.

Aside from the normal features you’d expect from the tablet like stereo speakers, a front facing HD webcam, USB 3.0 and your 3.5mm audio jack, it does have some other notable standouts like an array mic, support for Dolby Home Theater v4 and 7.1 surround when outputting to HDMI.

Unfortunately, HDMI is dependent on a docking accessory which we’ll talk about later.

What makes the Edge live up to its name is its performance. And while we can talk about its  memory speed and how many cores the CPU has, the tablet was able to handle some of the more recent PC game releases like Dishonored, Civilization V and Dirt Showdown.

Playing Dishonored involved using the Razer Edge Gamepad controller (which we’ll talk about in a bit) but the game played in a very good frame rate at “good” to “high” settings on the game’s graphic settings. We estimated just from the naked eye alone that the frame rate was well within the 35-45 range. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to sneak in a side load of FRAPS or other benchmarking tool but after goofing off with those games, we’re now curious where the tablet would sit in Futuremark’s 3DMark scoring.

Dishonored worked beautifully in close quarters and tight corridors. Even during combat, we experienced smooth frame rates across the board. The frame rate would drop slightly on more crazier architectures when the game had to push deeper draw distances but we estimated that the frame rate was at the 25-35 frames per second range – which is ultimately playable.

The resolution settings were at 1366 x 768 but when dropped to 800 x 600, speed was even better. We pushed the tablet at the highest graphics settings on Dishonored and the game was still very much playable but we missed the silky smooth frame rates from lower settings. Still, all things considered, the game played smoothly and controlling the main character in Dishonored wasn’t much of an issue.

RAZER EDGE GAMEPAD CONTROLLER IMPRESSIONS

Controlling the Razer Edge with the Gamepad Controller took some time to get used to. Of course, like all PC games, sensitivities had to be adjusted. Triggers were very comfortable and the fact that there are spaces between the actual controllers and the tablet itself makes it known that the Razer team understands controller design since you can curl your fingers around the controller in a natural grip position versus extending your fingers out and laying them flat on a tablet. This is especially true when using stick-based controls.

The left Edge Controller was armed with a variable stick, directional pad, “start” (or “left arrow” button) while the right controller had YBXA face buttons and a “right arrow” button. Both controllers also had two bumper buttons coinciding with triggers.

All in all, you’re looking at 16 buttons not including the sticks as buttons. The sticks can also be pushed down. When you include those, you’re looking at 18 inputs as buttons – all of which can be mapped. The directional and face buttons also appear to be backlit, giving it that clean vibe or if you just happen to be one of those guys/gals that like playing games in the dark.

As for performance, the controller feels a lot more comfortable than it looks. At first glance, it may seem like the controllers and tablet together may seem like a heavy combination but when held, the grips make it firm and ergonomic. Even with the stand attached to the back of the unit, holding the whole assembly felt light. Moving around in the game was no problem.

Switching weapons and aiming is easy, especially if you’ve mapped most of the frequently used actions in the game to available buttons. Even when you’re forced to tap the screen to make adjustments to sensitivities, the cylindrical-style grip allows you to hold on to the unit quite easily. While we haven’t played an RPG where users may have to make heavy use of tapping the screen to manage inventory, we’re betting that it shouldn’t be much of a problem as you’ll mostly be doing your controlling with the Edge’s controllers.

During the Dishonored gameplay, the controllers map very well while sensitivities and aiming precision work similar to those of a console. The accessory looks a bit on the larger side but overall, once the tablet is in, it blends well without looking cheap like other tablet accessories promising tactile feedback.

Razer reps have also told us that the controller also has the option of seamlessly carrying an extended battery for additional game time. That’s a big deal for those looking for more extra log time on graphic intensive games.

OUTLOOK

Overall, we’re diggin’ what we’re seeing. What we’re really curious about is how it performs in the gaming benchmarks because, unless there’s some nice feature where we can swap vid cards and CPUs, that’s what we feel will determine the tablet’s longevity. As longtime PC gamers, we’ve been mostly disappointed with the game offerings on the tablet end – even with the iPad. But with Windows 8 and Razer, this might change.  Taking the tablet route seems like an interesting idea because of its mobility but we’re wondering where Razer could take this lucrative niche as PC gamers continue to drive it.

As of all new things, we want to see more. We’d like to see how the tablet fares well with games like XCom, Far Cry 3, Crysis 2 and other PC gaming contemporaries. We’re hoping to land a unit soon before or during release. So be on the lookout for a future review when all things are said and done.

Be on the lookout for our next impression on the Razer Edge tablet in its Home Console and Keyboard Mode mode along with the Sabretooth controllers. We’ll be pushing it shortly.

Andrew Lee helped contribute to this report.

AT A GLANCE
Model No: Razer Edge
Device Type:
Manufacturer:
OS:
Price: $999.99
Under The Hood
CPU/Processor: Intel Core i5 Dual core w/ Hyper Threading Base 1.7GHz / Turbo 2.6GHz
Chipset/SoC: Intel HD4000 (DX11)
GPU/Graphics: NVIDIA GT 640M LE (1GB DDR3, Optimus Technology)
Memory Capacity: 4GB DDR3 (2x2GB 1600MHz)
Storage Capacity: 64GB *Subject To Change
Display
Size: 10.1 in.
Type: IPS, 10-point capacitive touch
Resolution: 1366×768
GALLERY

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