Hey, there you are! Razer Blade gaming laptop re-emerges at CES

Razer's elusive gaming laptop shows up at CES 2012, and this time it might be ready to see the light of stores.

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LAS VEGAS--Remember CES 2011? We recall it fondly. Glasses-free 3D. Endless tablets. Razer's Switchblade concept gaming laptop.

Well, some things never change, including the fact that we're still waiting to see an actual Razer laptop hit stores. The Razer Blade, an evolution of last year's Switchblade design, was announced at the end of August last year during PAX's gaming convention. Its release was supposed to be imminent, and suddenly, like a celebrity heading into rehab, it disappeared.

The Razer Blade is back again at CES 2012, and according to Razer, it'll be available at the end of the month. I took a look at the laptop at Razer's booth; this was my first up-close look at the Blade in action.

First impressions: this gaming laptop is still boldly designed, like the Switchblade, but on a far larger scale. The Blade is relatively thin and very wide: 16.81 inches x 10.9 inches x 0.88 inch, weighing a light-for-a-17-incher 6.97 pounds.

Scott Stein/CNET

Lots of palm rest space drapes across the front of the Blade. I dragged my hand across the black surface, blindly groping for a touch surface, and found none where you'd normally expect one: that's because the Blade's touchpad is actually to the right of the keyboard, and it's also a screen, accompanied with eight LED custom keys above it. Because of the extra side-added trackpad, the laptop feels extra-wide.

Scott Stein/CNET

That weird, clever screen didn't work on the Razer Blade floor models, because according to Razer reps the Wi-Fi needed to run the Switchblade UI for the screen and buttons wasn't accessible on the show floor; instead, a Razer representative demoed the tech on a Star Wars: The Old Republic gaming keyboard that's also coming out soon. However, as you can see above in the video, the UI worked in up-close demonstrations later on. The screen has roughly the resolution of a smartphone, and using multitouch, you can control onscreen settings or even browse the Web. It's a second screen, and can be used in whatever way a game or a user sees fit.

The eight LED custom buttons above the screen light up with custom graphics and can be used for various functions: the game Star Wars: The Old Republic is compatible with the button-customization technology, and an in-game menu could be used to set abilities or fighting techniques.

The Blade's an odd duck for traditionalists; there's no optical drive, and the onboard storage consists of a 256GB SSD. Otherwise, the specs hold to what were announced last year: a 2.8GHz Core i7 2640M processors, Nvidia GeForce 555M graphics, and 8GB of RAM are included in the single configuration offered, which will cost more than $2,700. That's a whopping amount of money, especially for a laptop, which even Razer admits may not be as supercharged as bigger, heavier rigs from Alienware and Origin.

Who is this laptop for? That's a very good question. I can't answer that now. Just click through for some up-close looks taken at the show floor, and stay tuned for a video First Look.

 

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