The Gamepad

The gamepad controller is obviously the game-changer here, since it really does redefine portable gaming usage models. That sounds like marketing hyperbole at first, but it’s actually true – you can take the Edge around with the gamepad and play real PC games on it basically anywhere, as though it’s a huge PSP or some crazy Ben Heck experiment to weld the two halves of an Xbox controller to a tablet. It’s simply awesome, there’s absolutely no question in my mind about that.

The gamepad controller is like a case that the Edge docks into, with a springloaded clip with the dock connector and two pins on either side to hold it in place. The inner surface of the gamepad features two rubber pads with springs behind them to pop the tablet up out of the case when the clip is released. Inserting and removing the tablet from the gamepad is a two-hand job, as both sides of the bottom clip need to be released before the tablet pops up.

The frame is made of anodized aluminum, with the controls and backplate being matte black plastic that looks very similar to the aluminum in terms of aesthetic. Everything attaches to the aluminum skeleton though, so the entire piece feels very solid in your hands. It actually reminds me a bit of the controller cases for iPhone that turned it into something resembling a high-tech Gameboy. The frame has contours on the inner bottom edge, redirecting output from the downward-firing speakers out towards the user.

With the extended 41.44Wh battery, the full kit weighs about 3.25 pounds. Ergonomically, this is a two-handed device – there’s too much weight and holding just one handle won’t work due to the rotational moment of inertia. Basically, it just wants to rotate around the axis of the handle unless you’re holding both of them. The weight means that the easiest way to game is to place the back of the tablet on your lap and just crane over it to play. It just isn’t feasible to hold upright for any sustained period of time without resting it against something. The IPS panel helps with the viewing angles, so thankfully that isn’t an issue. The nice thing about the gamepad controller is that it does shield the worst of the heat – the top right corner of the gamepad does get pretty toasty when gaming or benchmarking for a length of time, but it’s not as bad as touching the tablet directly.

The controller has two analog sticks prominently featured at the top of each side, directional buttons on and a back button on the left side, the four action buttons (A, B, X, Y) and start button on the right side, two sets of right and left shoulder/bumper buttons, and two analog triggers. It has basically the same controller layout as the Xbox 360, with one key difference – the right analog stick is placed above the action buttons instead of below. This is a little annoying, because the natural instinct is to put your thumb on the analog instead of the action buttons where they would normally be. If you don’t adjust the position of your hand on the right side, this can result in discomfort during extended gaming sessions (yes, I know this from experience.)

The system recognizes the gamepad as an Xbox 360 controller, so there are no questions about compatibility or setup. It just works. You can even install JoyToKey to emulate a mouse using the analog sticks, though I wish Razer had included a first-party way to do this. When properly set up, it’s pretty interesting to use the gamepad for standard Windows input.

In general, the Edge’s gamepad controller shockingly simple to use and easy to get used to, the adjustment isn’t nearly as much as one would think considering that your Xbox controller has suddenly mutated and grown a 10.1” display. You start playing games everywhere – buses, cars, planes, coffee shops, subways, libraries, basically anywhere you can pull out a tablet. Early on in the review process, I was driving to dinner with a friend of mine who was playing Half-Life 2 on the Edge in the passenger seat. It was incredibly distracting, mostly because I really wanted to play too. (A small piece of advice: don’t drive and play Need For Speed during stoplights, regardless of how tempting it might be to do so.) But it’s awesome – places where it would be awkward or impossible to play PC games are no longer so, you can just take the Edge and play Skyrim or Dirt 3 as easily as one would play Angry Birds on an iPad. Bam, mobile PC gaming, redefined.

Design Dock and Keyboard
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  • jeffkro - Friday, March 29, 2013 - link

    I heard an interview with a game developer who started in PC gaming, forget which one. He said they pushed for the switch from PC to consules, tragic. Now he said their push is going to be from consules to mobile devices, even worse. These are sad days for PC gamers, and each step down to lower end hardware has cut the potential of gaming.
  • perry1mm - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    I think a lot of people miss the point and just overlook the potential uses this offers for people that might travel a few weeks or even months out of the year and are on the go a lot.

    For work I spend a couple weeks in a hotel a year, travel to see family a week or two, and spend a few weekends away here or there, not to mention just driving around or spending time out and about sitting down someplace for an hour or two.

    There is no way I'd haul around my gaming desktop, this is great for on the couch average use, docking on-the-go, and gaming when plugged while traveling.

    BUT, I ended up getting the Sony Vaio Duo 11 two months ago and it does all of this stuff, has a backlit keyboard attached already, I got the extended battery on sale, and total I paid $1450 for mine with a promo + $100 credit since I got the Sony Card, plus 8500 points ($85 more dollars of Sony Rewards). So out-the-door around $1300 with the newer i7 3537u, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and the HD 4000 has played 90% of the games at full resolution (1080p).

    Not to mention the HDMI built in, VGA out, SD slot, 2 USB 3.0 slots, and numerous other features that make it much more handy in a laptop functionality (gaming) a lot with still being portable for touch use in tablet mode.

    For the people that rip on these products as being When an ARM tablet can cost $500-800 and an ultrabook $1000+, paying $200-500 more for this with the hardware you're getting, storage/SSD, and accessibility, it is NOT really that expensive.

    Now if all you do is sit at home and play games for a few minutes on your phone when on-the-go, or you don't care about space and lugging around a large laptop...then maybe this isn't for you. But both the Edge and Vaio Duo for me were great fits, I just happened to be perfectly happy with the Duo as to not need the Edge.
  • Netscorer - Saturday, March 30, 2013 - link

    Weight and battery life are killers for this product. Price is an issue but there are people willing to pay for the mobility and they would not mind paying extra for exclusivity too. But once you consider that you always (ALWAYS!) need to brace this tablet against something (be it a lap on a train or table at the coffee shop) and that even then you can get at most 2 hours on a freshly charged batteries, the appeal of this hybrid goes way down and frankly, you can do the same on a laptop with a good trackpad, costing much less and having more versatility in other functions. By the way, I was surprised that Vivek never mentioned how absence of the physical keyboard affected using this device. Microsoft did a piss poor job with the virtual keyboard that blocks 2/3 of the screen every time you bring it up and when something like this happens as you prepare to game, it would be a major nuisance.
  • MobiusStrip - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    Look at that idiotic glossy screen.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, April 1, 2013 - link

    It's definitely an interesting product. I don't need a portable gaming machine, so this isn't for me. But even if it were: no display output and the display resolution kill it for me. You may justify the resolution, but it is still not acceptable for me. I'd rather have smaller pixels so that non-native resolutions look better as well. This is a compromise I'm not willing to put up with (and yes, I know that higher resolution would also mean more power draw from the display at same brightness). Also, 11.6" would have been a better display size in my opinion, could have upped the battery package or reduced the thickness. And I personally still don't play FPS games with a gamepad (or many other types for that matter) so for many games I'd need the dock and a keyboard/mouse. All in all, I think I'm better off with sticking with my Ativ Pro for the few games I want to play when I'm on holidays. :D
    As for the review: Well done. But I'd really like a comment on whether or not this tablet supports Optimus and the corresponding battery life. :)
  • IceStorm - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - link

    As an Edge Pro owner, I agree with what has been written in the review. I've been busy installing and playing games since it arrived yesterday. It is fun.

    I have tried the Surface Pro. The lower resolution of the Edge is not an issue. If anything, it makes it easier to select things when at the traditional desktop. The screen is quite nice, and I have a retina iPad and a Kindle Fire HD for comparison.

    This is an early adopter product. It is not for everyone. Just like the first Blade, if you balk at the price it isn't for you. The Razer store sold out of the initial production run of the 256GB Edge Pro in less than five hours. There is a market for it.
  • seapeople - Sunday, April 7, 2013 - link

    I can picture the scene now outside the Razer store. A bunch of happy gamers walking out to their Corolla's, stumbling over the curb as they are locked into an intense game of Half Life, while dozens of well dressed men in suits shake there head and sneer as they lament how much money these gamers are wasting on this platform. The men in suits then jump into their Ferrari 328 GTS's and cruise off into the sunset, waiting in tempered melancholy for the day when they, too, will have the means to afford a handheld gaming unit that will bring joy to their lives.
  • 0 adrian 0 - Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - link

  • MajinBlayze - Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - link

    In your review regarding the downgrade from the pro version:
    "You lose the 1080p display and Wacom digitizer"

    according to the support page here: "The Razer Edge is not Wacom or pressure sensitive compatible"

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