They’re the most powerful, versatile gaming tablets in the world. At least, that’s the claim that Razer is making about its Edge and Edge Pro tablets. The idea is as simple as it is inventive.
Take a Windows 8 tablet, stuff in the guts of a solid gaming laptop, develop some unique, gaming-oriented accessories and wrap it all up in a package that promises to be everything from a standard tablet to a game console. It’s a promising concept, but let’s see how this do-it-all tablet compares to the competition.
The Razer Edge is an impressively built tablet. It’s also a very large tablet, measuring 10.9-by-7-by-0.8 inches and weighing a hefty 2.1 pounds (0,95 kg). It’s a little less than convenient compared to tablets such as the Surface Pro, though its dimensions are in line with the Acer Iconia W700.
The build quality is unquestionably high-end, with the aluminum back and edges providing a solid device that still manages to feel comfortable and grippy. The excessively wide bezel up front isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but otherwise, the device is quite attractive and fits the gaming image.
One obvious weakness of the Razer Edge and Edge Pro is the distinct lack of connectivity. The top edge sports one USB 3.0 port, but that’s about it. The standard 3.5-millimeter audio jack, volume rocker, and power button are also found on top, as are the rotation lock and a button for Windows 8’s on-screen keyboard.
The bottom contains a 40-pin connector, stereo speakers and a pair of slots for use in mounting the Edge to its various accessories. One of those accessories, the docking station, adds an additional three USB 2.0 slots, an HDMI port, audio in and out jacks and a power connector.
Still, compared to tablets that include some sort of video-out option onboard, this is an odd setup.
Resolving the Details
In a puzzling decision that doesn’t seem to fit with the otherwise high-end aspirations of the Razer Edge, the display is a standard 1,366-by-768 IPS panel. The lack of resolution is surprising, though it may be a compromise to allow for increased gaming performance.
Resolution aside, the display is a very solid one. Color and contrast are superb, and images are generally surprisingly crisp. The only concern comes with the extra-glossy panel, which can seriously interfere with viewing angles in bright ambient lighting.
As noted earlier, the strongest selling point of the Edge and Edge Pro is the sheer versatility of the device. It works quite well as a standalone device, though it’s a bit uncomfortable compared to tablets with a smaller frame.
The keyboard dock, which isn’t yet available at the time of writing, is intended to transform the Edge into a very capable laptop or PC replacement. Considering the internal specs, that goal may be quite feasible.
Of course, the primary function for which the Razer is intended is gaming. In that regard, the optional gamepad accessory makes for a formidable gaming platform without losing the tablet appeal.
For those who wish to replace a gaming console altogether, or at least replicate the experience, the docking station fits the bill perfectly. The HDMI-out provides an easy connection to a television, and the automatic configuration is a wonderful touch that truly makes it a plug-and-play affair.
Add in a gamepad, and the specially-designed interface makes for an experience that’s every bit as satisfying as a traditional gaming console.
Under the Hood
Given that it’s billed as a gaming device, you’d expect the Razer and Razer Pro to deliver impressive specs compared to tablets suited for more general use. While the base model’s 1.7-gigahertz Intel i5 processor and four gigabytes of RAM is comparable to the Surface Pro or Acer Iconia W700, the Razer Pro sports an Intel Core i7 3517U processor running at 1.9-gigahertz along with eight gigabytes of DDR3 RAM.
Both models feature the NVIDIA GT640M LE GPU. While the most graphics-intensive games on the market may sputter a bit on the highest settings, especially on the base Edge, the Razer will handle the vast majority of games with relative ease. As expected with such heavy-duty hardware, however, battery life is marginal at best.
The most logical tablet comparisons, Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Acer’s Iconia W700, are more or less indistinguishable from the base Razer Edge model. Though some may prefer the gamer-oriented styling of the Edge, the sleeker frame and more well-rounded capabilities of the Surface Pro is likely to be the most popular choice.
However, the Edge Pro’s impressive internals make it an appealing choice for dedicated gamers. In addition, the optional accessories and thoughtful touches give the Edge a versatility that the Surface and Iconia can’t match.
For those who demand portability, however, the much-improved battery life of the Iconia W700 and the lighter design of the Surface Pro make for a difficult decision.