Best of CES 2013: Razer Edge

Razer's unique gaming-centric tablet takes the cup at our 2013 Best of CES Awards.

LAS VEGAS--It's clear that computers, and tablets, are evolving. In a show full of some very big ideas, the Razer Edge gaming tablet takes the concept of tablet PCs championed by Windows 8 and devices like the Microsoft Surface and applies them to gaming. In doing so, it succeeds in showing us where tablets, computing, and even entertainment will be heading very soon. That's why it won Best of Show this year, and why it compelled us to award it as the best in its category. The Edge is evolutionary computing, but in a product that is very real, with little that's left to proprietary question marks.

The Edge went head-to-head with fellow gaming tablet nominee, the Nvidia Shield. The Shield got a splashy CES press conference unveiling and got many of us talking about the future of tablets and gaming. We were thrilled, in the middle of this conversation, to spend time with the Razer Edge and discover that this device offers a lot of what the Shield promises -- a gaming tablet with an attachable game pad that offers a variety of streaming and media features -- as soon as February.

Sure, the Razer Edge seems expensive. It starts at $999, and the accessories that help make it so compelling will cost extra. But the Edge is also a full Windows 8 computer sporting some pretty capable Nvidia graphics. This is a device you could take on a trip and use as your full computer, or plug into someone's TV and play games with. It makes two-player gaming surprisingly easy, and with its various companion add-ons (TV-out dock, game pad, a forthcoming keyboard/case), it offers multiple usage modes. Yet, it's still a tablet.

But being a tablet isn't what makes the Razer Edge so exciting: truthfully, the battery life is short. It's the idea of transportable room-to-room computing -- and yes, of course, gaming, too. You could put this in your bag and use it to cover a show like CES for a week. You could take it on a trip as a travel PC. That's the excitement of what the Edge represents.

Gamers are the clear target audience for this device. For them, the Edge promises one of the most versatile gaming machines ever. With its various accessories, it can work as a laptop, a desktop, a TV-connected console, or even a large gaming handheld. Starting from the concept design called Project Fiona released at last year's CES, Razer turned to gamers, crowdsourcing the specs and design of the final product.

The result is a tablet with either a third-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU, a discrete GeForce GT 640M graphics chip from Nvidia, and a solid-state hard drive, starting at 64GB, with options for up to 256GB of SSD storage in the Razer Edge Pro model. Those specs make the Edge fast enough to play current-generation PC games on the 10.1-inch IPS display at its 1,366x768-pixel native resolution.

Through the help of its various accessories, you can output the video to a larger display, and even scale the resolution up to 2,560x1,440 pixels. The hardware might balk at gaming at such a high resolution, but it's certainly up to the task of playing HD video on a 1080p screen.

For nongamers, the Edge suggests how manufacturers might expand the trend of remixed PC designs. Imagine owning one Windows 8 tablet that can become any kind of PC you want.

You can certainly find some points of concern in the Edge as it currently exists. With between 2 and 5 hours of battery life, it won't be the most portable device. It's bulky, coming in just under an inch thick. It's also expensive, at least for a tablet. Future chip designs from Intel and others should help mitigate all that, but even its current incarnation, the Edge makes up for those concerns with sheer versatility.

When we pick a Best of Show winner, we look for a groundbreaking device that sets an example for the industry and that truly pushes consumer technology forward. We also look for products that advances the conversation in its category, if not across the industry.

We have many products among our finalists that will have an impact in their respective categories. The Razer Edge will not only influence gaming, but it also sets an example for the rapidly evolving PC and tablet market. For advancing ideas across industry segments, the Razer Edge is the Best of CES for 2013.

Editors' note (January 14, 2013): In addition to being chosen as the Best Gaming Product of CES 2013, the Razer Edge was chosen as Best in Show after the Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. Read The 2013 Best of CES Awards: CNET's story for a more comprehensive version of this story.

 

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