Razer Edge Pro: Our first look at a Windows 8 gaming tablet

Our initial impressions of the Razer Edge Pro, the world's first Windows 8 tablet built for PC gaming.

At first glance, the Razer Edge Pro is indistinguishable from other Windows 8 tablets: it's 2.2 pounds of matte black metal with a 10.1-inch screen and a single Windows button. It feels heavy in your hands, a little bulkier than the Surface Pro and much, much hotter.

That heat flows from the powerful components nestled inside, including an Nvidia GPU and an Intel Core i7 CPU that render Razer's tablet capable of competing with similarly-priced ultrabooks in terms of performance. I haven't spent enough time with the tablet yet to know whether or not it delivers on that potential--look for our full review next week--but Razer's latest leaves a strong first impression the moment you pull it out of the packaging.

Playing PC games on a tablet is fantastic

The most important thing you need to know about the Razer Edge Pro is that it works--you can use it to play contemporary PC games at decent settings, and the battery lasts long enough to let you play for at least 2-3 hours at a stretch before you need to recharge.

You can augment that with the extended battery pack in the Edge gamepad chassis--which Razer sells separately or as part of a bundle with the Edge Pro-- but there's a better reason to accessorize: most PC games suck if you can't use either a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad. I've spent a few hours playing PC games with the Edge Pro, and I've had a blast playing 3D games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and XCOM while curled up on the couch with the gamepad chassis resting on my lap. Being able to play complex PC games from the comfort of my couch is amazing, but it wouldn't work without the gamepad accessory.

Controlling PC games on a tablet is an exercise in compromise

At first blush, I'm disappointed with the design of the Razer Edge Pro. It feels bulky and unwieldy in my hands, more like a prototype than a finished product. It's heavier, thicker and harder to carry than the Surface Pro, weighing in at 2.25 pounds and roughly 12 inches wide.

Alone it's not much of a burden, but--as mentioned earlier--it's also not much of a gaming machine sans accessories. Jack the Edge Pro into it's gamepad chassis and you get an excellent platform for 3D action games that's fifteen inches wide, almost four and a half pounds and nearly impossible to safely stow in a backpack or messenger bag. Perversely, to make the Edge Pro shine as a mobile gaming device you have to render it practically immobile.

The screen disappoints

Razer built the Edge with a 10.1-inch IPS display that has a native resolution of just 1366 x 768. It works well enough for browsing the web or playing games from the Windows Store--the Surface RT has the same 1366 x 768 resolution, after all--but it diminishes the fun of playing graphically-intensive PC games or watching HD video. It feels like a compromise that Razer engineers made in order to bolster the tablet's battery life, and while I appreciate being able to play games for more than an hour at a time the Edge Pro looks inferior next to the Surface Pro's vibrant 1920 x 1080 display.

Even so, I don't want to put the Razer Edge Pro down. Eventually I have to, because with the gamepad attached I can't hold it steady for more than an hour before my arms turn to jelly, but I keep picking it back up. I've only had a few days with the Edge Pro and there's still plenty of testing to be done: I'm going to put it through the PCWorld Lab's battery of benchmarking tests, hook it up to my PC and HDTV, then see how it holds up during daily use and deliver a comprehensive review next week.

This story, "Razer Edge Pro: Our first look at a Windows 8 gaming tablet" was originally published by PCWorld.

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