This story starts in a dark meeting room in the back of Razer’s booth at CES 2012. I’m sitting with CEO Min-Liang Tan, who is walking me through the intriguing Project Fiona concept gaming tablet. A number of major manufacturers announced Tegra 3 and OMAP4-based Android slates at CES 2012, but Project Fiona stood out – instead of an ARM SoC, it ran a Core i7 CPU, Nvidia graphics, and Windows 7. At the time my guess was an i7-2617M ultra-low voltage processor and an Nvidia GT 520M, though I never got a confirmation on either spec from Razer. In addition to the powerhouse specs, the tablet had handles resembling two Wii nunchucks attached to either side. Even with a small 10.1” display, the performance-oriented silicon and gamepad combined for a tablet that was big, hot, and heavy. Clearly, not an ideal solution, but the concept had obvious potential and was almost a lock to reach production eventually. It walked away from Las Vegas with a handful of awards.

Eventually turned out to be today, and so we have the Razer Edge. It’s the final production version of Project Fiona and comes with a few very key refinements, including updated silicon and a removable gamepad controller. There are really two angles to cover with the Edge. One is that it’s far and away the most powerful tablet on the market, the other is that there are a full complement of accessories that can transform it into a portable gaming machine, a console, a desktop, or (eventually) a notebook PC. With the range of add-ons available, the Edge turns out to be a pretty versatile system that can fit a number of usage models.

Razer tried an interesting tactic with Project Fiona – they turned to their Facebook and Twitter followers late last year to get feedback on what exactly the final product should look like. The choices offered were a thin, light, inexpensive ARM-based Android tablet, a Windows tablet with Ivy Bridge and integrated graphics, Ivy Bridge and a mid-range dGPU, as well as the when-pigs-fly option of a GTX-class graphics card. Based on the responses Razer got back from their crowdsourcing efforts, Min-Liang Tan posted the final spec on his Facebook: “Over 10,000 PC gamers voted to say that it should be feature an Intel Core CPU, mid-range discrete graphics card, up to double the thickness and weight of the new iPad, detachable controls and be priced at US$1200-$1400.”

Considering that the initial design concept shown at CES basically hit those marks (save for the detachable controls) I’d say that the result was unsurprising, but it was a good show from Razer to actively engage the community and listen to their feedback. The Edge was submitted to the FCC almost two weeks before Razer even started asking for feedback on their forthcoming tablet, and was given approval a week before the crowdsourced spec was announced, so it’s unclear how much the responses played into the final product beyond the marketing angle that Razer has been playing up.  

From a hardware standpoint, the Edge is a monster. Anytime you start talking Ivy Bridge and dedicated graphics in a 10.1” tablet, the result is going to be slightly unhinged. Razer went with the proven Ivy Bridge ULV/Kepler combination, and for good reason, because it has been an absolute godsend for mobile products. All variants of the Edge come with Nvidia’s GT 640M LE graphics card, which serves as the major silicon-level differentiator between the Edge and other IVB-based tablets like Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Samsung’s ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T. The GT 640M LE is the lowest end of the Kepler totem pole, with Optimus, 384 cores, 16 ROPs, 32 TMUs, and core clocks of 500MHz with GPU boost pushing that to 570MHz. In this guise, there’s 2GB of DDR3 VRAM clocked at the reference 900MHz with a 128-bit memory interface. Interestingly enough, this is the same graphics core as the 2nd-gen Blade, except with lower clock speeds and far slower memory.

The power draw question is an important one – the ultra-low voltage IVB parts have a 17W TDP, while the GT 640M LE has a TDP in the 20W range (between the various speed and memory configurations, it’s hard to be exact). Toss in additional loads from the display, SSD, RAM, WiFi, and then we’re talking real numbers. It’s hard to find workloads that peg both CPU and GPU, so expecting a 40W draw during typical gaming situations wouldn’t be unreasonable. That’s a *lot* for a handheld device. And so, naturally, the Edge is quite a bit thicker than other tablets at 19.5mm (0.8”) – compare that to Surface Pro at 13.5mm, or to jump into the ARM tablet realm, the iPad at 9.4mm and the Nexus 10 at 8.9mm. Hell, the Edge is thicker than my Zenbook Prime when closed (18mm at its thickest point).

It simply needs to be that thick to dissipate heat effectively – 40W thermal loads are no joke. But it’s not just thick in the z-direction, the footprint is also pretty large considering that the screen is only 10.1” diagonally. The x and y-dimensions are actually a bit larger than the Surface Pro (which has a 10.6” display) and far beyond normal 10.1” tablets, though they are still well short of the 11.6” tablets out there. The Edge is unsurprisingly heavy by tablet standards, but matches Surface Pro at 2 pounds even with a larger chassis and significantly more computing horsepower on board.

Other specs include Intel’s Centrino-N 2230 wireless card (2.4GHz only, no dual-band 5GHz fanciness here even though it really should be mandatory for anything costing more than $500), a 10.1” 1366x768 IPS display sourced from LG, a Synaptics capacitive touchscreen, and a 41.44Wh Li-poly battery. A note about the display – while most of the other Ivy Bridge-based slates and convertible tablets playing in this price range feature 1080p panels, I’m actually alright with the Edge having a low-res panel because GT 640M LE will absolutely choke at anything higher than 768p. Given the additional constraints on power consumption and thermal dissipation, it was likely just easier (and cheaper) to ship a 1366x768 panel.

As far as on-tablet port selection goes, there’s a USB 3.0 port, a combo 3.5mm jack, and the dock/power connector. That’s it. When you consider that Surface Pro has a mini DisplayPort video connector as well as an SD card slot in addition to USB 3.0 port in a slimmer chassis, it’s truly disappointing to see that there are basically no ports beyond the lone USB. I understand that when mobile, it’s rare to need more than one USB port, but the lack of on-device video out is a pretty crucial oversight. At present, the only way to get video out from the Edge is to buy the HDMI docking station. There simply needs to be an easier way to do it without resorting to bringing the dock everywhere you go, even if it means an adapter from mini to full size HDMI. I’d actually even be okay with a dock connector to video out adapter, the way Apple does it.

In an interesting side note, Razer is also announcing a partnership today with Valve to preinstall Steam on the shipping Edge units. It’ll likely be one of the first pieces of software installed on the Edge (it certainly was for me), so it’s a move that makes sense for both companies, especially since Razer is marketing the Edge as a portable open console.

The Edge comes in two flavors, base and Pro. The entry-level SKU has an i5-3317U (1.7GHz), 4GB of DDR3, and a 64GB SSD for $999, while the Edge Pro bumps that up to an i7-3517U (1.9GHz), 8GB, and a 128GB SSD for $1299. Upgrading to a 256GB drive costs a further $150. The evaluation unit we received was the full-tilt Edge Pro 256GB, which has an SF-2200-based ADATA XM14 mSATA SSD. The pricing makes sense, with the base Edge coming in at a $100 premium over an equivalent 64GB Surface Pro. You lose the 1080p display and Wacom digitizer, but the graphics card makes for a pretty potent trump card.

With that said, I’d certainly hesitate to get the base model with just 64GB of storage; after taking out the chunks for recovery partitions and Windows, you might have half that space remaining. Considering the size of games these days, it’s not really a workable solution. I’ve installed maybe 10 games on my Edge review unit (the seven in our 2012 benchmark suite, plus a couple more) and there’s only 90GB of free disk space left. The 128GB Pro seems to be the sweet spot in the Edge lineup, particularly when bundled with the gamepad controller for $1499.

That brings us to the other side of the story: the range of accessories Razer is releasing alongside the Edge. The most prominent among them, of course, is the gamepad controller, as well as a docking station that provides an HDMI and three USB ports. Both are available now alongside the tablet, while the third piece of the accessory puzzle, a mobile keyboard dock, will not show up until Q3. In typical Razer fashion, the accessory costs are borderline highway robbery - the gamepad controller retails at $249, the HDMI dock goes for $99 and the laptop dock will end up at least $150 when it does release eventually. That doesn’t even factor in the $69 for the secondary 41.44Wh battery that slots into the gamepad and laptop dock. It all adds up, and eventually the reasonable cost of the tablet hardware starts to look not so reasonable anymore. But we’ll get there.

Gallery: Razer Edge

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  • Havor - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    "And YOU don't see the appeal, but for someone like myself that travels regularly"
    I am a piping supervisor, and i really do see the potential, only my opinion of this device is, nice product but to heavy and to expensive, so no cigar!

    I stopped being a early adopter years a go, and learn to wait, as i done +40 years before with out them, so i don't really need it today aider, even do i would like to have it.
    Reply
  • perry1mm - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    Most of what you replied with was not only badly typed, but poorly worded, and incomprehensible. Your replies don't even accurately respond to what I stated.

    "I am very well off, I am a supervisor in the offshore, and my wife is a deputy director of a local part of the national institute.

    Still i think $1000 is way to mouths for what you get in return, like i said, not saying that the price is to high for what it cost to make a device like this, saying if you wait 1~2 generations, you get way more for a lot less."

    Ok, you basicaly contradicted yourself here: Earlier you say $1000 is not good value, I said it is not much if you're in the market for a laptop/tablet, and then you say it's too much for what you get in return...well for some there is no other option and future generations of the product can only be hoped for and anticipated for possibly a year or two. I mean, you might as well tell someone that wants the PS4 to wait for the PS5 since it will be greatly improved. It's not very logical when the competition is similarly priced, it does what it is intended to do, and is not even that costly. $1000 for any type of laptop that can be used for gaming is about average.

    And you say you're a supervisor for whatever and make good money...well then you're just a cheapass and shouldn't even be commenting because it's simply you personally that has an issue with money, not that this is actually overpriced or bad value. It's actually VERY GOOD VALUE in an objective look at the current market of tablets/laptops/portable devices. There are very few comparisons for the performance and portability. You're basing value off of "It's a lot of money for what you get" yet you can't tell me something at comparative pricing that offers the same, so the value isn't bad as you seem to think. You're just willing to compromise for a lesser experience because it appears you're probably cheap.

    "This tablet falls in the category as the first LCD TVs, they ware around $5000 for a 40", and just like this tablet, the asking price was not to high for what it cost to make one, I am saying, you have to be a idiot to pay $1000~$1500 for something that will be outdated in 2 years by way better devices."

    ROFL, NO IT DOES NOT. $1000-1200 is about on par with any other decent specced laptop that can play games nowadays with a mobile GPU. That analogy to LCDs is way off because they were exclusive products at the time offering completely new experience in displays, versus this simply being a more compact device with specs that can be found in other products (laptops) that have a basis for pricing...and it isn't much better for what they offer.

    "Got a ASUS G75VX for work, and a Transformer for on the road, ware i depending on use use the dock with, nut yeah i cant play FPS games on the Transformer, still there are lots of other fun games other the Angry Birds that i can also play on it.

    The G75 is a real desktop replacement, i can use when i am @work, I am "on the go enough" about +50% of the year, but i cant really see any real benefits over a normal tablet."

    Again, you're compromising for the sake of your personal experience in regards to portability and in-convenience. When you try something like the Edge or Sony Vaio Duo you'd probably learn it's much more efficient, convenient, and having multiple devices in most circumstances just aren't as compact, portable, or high-spec.

    "The Surface Pro with it's i5 and 4GB RAM is sorely lacking in performance.
    I never said the Surface Pro was a good deal, I say your a idiot or have to mouth money if you if you buy this, as you can be a early adopter of tech that is not ready for prime time, if you buy it anyway i and many others will think something of you, if you tell the total price of what you got in your hands."

    I wasn't saying you did. I was simply posting my own comments about the Surface Pro to put in perspective another device in relation to the Edge. It's not being an early adopter just because it's a Win 8 device that is "new." There have been plenty of high-end Windows tablets in the past few years. The one's we're seeing now are just more refined, and I'd even go as far to say suitable for most people in use and pricing.

    "you must be the one smoking pot if you think this would be $500-600 with a controller grip

    Read correctly, i did not say the device was was overprices for the tech you get, i say the its just not worth it, as in 2 years from now you get the same for half the price and weight, whit 50% more powerk"

    THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID!!! WTF DO YOU THINK "JUST NOT WORTH IT" and "But unless they get the price down to around $500~600 with a included game controller grip, i dont see lots of people buying this overpriced tablet." YOU LITERALLY SAID EXACTLY WHAT YOU JUST REPLIED YOU WEREN'T SAYING. You can't even follow your own damn comments, you obviously have trouble comprehending mine.

    Not only that but 2 YEARS to get it for half the price. Seriously, GTFO! Nobody waits 2 years for something that they can use now on a daily basis in a convenient way. It would be completely stupid to wait two years, hell even a year for many people, if they are in the market for a product like this or similar.

    You really need to re-read your own comments before you reply, cuz you are way off in nearly everything you continue to say. Just stop while you're already way behind.
    Reply
  • Havor - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    Damn man get a life, you act like i just insulted your mother or so.

    And if you are even to stupid to read understandably whats the point of arguing.

    Basically the concept is nice, and the tech is cutting edge what you can make now, but he is still way to heavy, expensive and don't lest very long. (just like the Surface Pro)

    But if you wane buy one, go ahead, i wait 2 years or so, and get a faster one, for half the price and almost half the weight, till then i use what i got, as my Transformer dose everything this tablet dose except High End gaming.
    Reply
  • perry1mm - Monday, April 01, 2013 - link

    ROFL, get a life. I work in the wireless industry and enjoy everything I do. That took me like 5 mins to reply to and since there is no "quotations" it doubled the length of the reply.

    Obviously you lack any real support for your criticisms and responses.

    I didn't get the Edge and I won't, I simply read the review and understand the product and it's purpose, use, and value for what it is capable of.

    Your Transformer tablet doesn't have an SSD, full desktop applications, games, processing capabilities, accessories, and as you said...you use a laptop to compensate for that. Good job, my phone does everything your Transformer does, so that must mean it's as good as the Edge, right? Dips***.
    Reply
  • Havor - Monday, April 01, 2013 - link

    Man if you don't get it, and only get a hard-on from the tech, thats to bad, but even for 99.999% of the readers this tablet will just not be a option.

    I use to own a Ferrari 328 GTS, as i was thinking it was cool, and yes it was, but it was a pain in the ass for daily use, and a normal luxury car is a much better option.

    Same go's for this tablet, i think my "Transformer Infinity" tablet is 600g, and i think its all ready pretty heavy for long use, the Edge is a other 50% heavier, what makes it really useless for any long use in on hand, and unless you lay it down or hold it with two hands, good luck holding it longer then 5min!

    "I didn't get the Edge and I won't, I simply read the review and understand the product and it's purpose, use, and value for what it is capable of."

    I get its purpose, don't get me wrong, and i am looking forward to it, but again.

    To heavy! (biggest problem)
    To expensive! (specially if with all the extra's you need, you will go over $1500)
    To short battery life!

    Al three on them self are more or less game stoppers for me, all three together is just just a total no go, till those problems are fixed, i am not gone get a Razor Edge like product.
    Reply
  • perry1mm - Monday, April 01, 2013 - link

    I have no problems with the last half or that comment, but your pathetic attempts at insults or perspectives are pointless and unnecessary.

    Nothing I said implied I get a hard-on from tech. Literally nothing. I actually gave numerous reasons why there is nothing else on the market that can fit all-around usability of this device, and acknowledged the downsides if you can't manage a workaround or are in a situation where this isn't the product for you...that's fine, but don't say it's bad value because it isn't. You're comparing apples to oranges to clementines.

    The difference between your Ferrari example is that it offers NOTHING in usability for daily driving from a Toyota Corolla, so again you offer a terrible example and comparison from your supposed experience.

    Meanwhile this device I have repeatedly offered situations that someone would benefit from it, how it has abilities you simply can't get from other devices, along with various other examples of things that make it's value comparable to other so-called alternatives. I'd go into them again but it seems whenever I offer them you ignore them to spout garbage analogies rather than acknowledge what I f***ing say.
    Reply
  • perry1mm - Monday, April 01, 2013 - link

    Oh and since you're going to come back and say, "I didn't say Toyota Corolla, I said a normal luxury car." I wasn't saying you did, I simply offered a random lower-cost vehicle in comparison. The difference is for someone that is in need of a laptop that plays particular PC games and wants to continue that on their travels (such as myself when I go away for work trips, travel to see family, or go on shorter vacations that I'd like to sit down and play a game for a couple hours a day...I can plug into an outlet and do so, while putting it in power saver for on-the-go browsing, and eventually someone could use an extended battery much like I do with my Sony Vaio Duo that adds little weight).

    You obviously are thinking on the basis of carrying it around and using it as a tablet on-the-go for hours at a time rather than from the perspective of a tablet for various needs with the whole package of versatility and options...instead you narrow your view and can't think of how someone would use it outside of yourself.
    Reply
  • aNaNDaMiDe - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    what's your problem with cannabis, friend? an MRI will show increased brain activity in the frontal cortex when high. Yes, cannabinoids affect short term memory (the most important function of cannabinoids in the brain is to forget, so you don't have to retain every mundane detail of every moment) but what does that have to do with a review? I almost agreed with your opinion, but I don't like you, you must be poking smot. oh yeah, that means what u think it means Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - link

    "Pick up and play anywhere" - Wouldn't that be called a laptop? Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    If your laptop weighed 3 lbs and had an integrated xbox360 controller. Reply

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