Razer may be indulging in a little hyperbole when it calls the Razer Blade ‘the world’s first gaming laptop’, but we’ll forgive them for that. Since the gaming peripheral maker is nice enough to be making Australia one of the first launch countries, we’re feeling mighty forgiving. And that’s just what Razer CEO is doing tonight, at a local Sydney event – announcing that the Razer Blade will be available in Australia on November the 1st, this year.
To begin with, it will be available at JB Hi-fi in Pitt St Mall in Sydney, and JB Hi-fi at Elizabeth St in Melbourne, as well as JB Hi-fi Online and the Razer store itself. The Razer Blade comes in one stock configuration, and will cost $2,999.
So what is that stock install?
Intel Core i7 3632QM processor
Geforce GTX 660M, with 2GB of RAM
8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
17.3in 1920x1080 display
500GB 7200rpm HDD, 64GB SATA III SSD
All in a matte black, gently curved chassis that measures in at just a shade over 2cm thick.
“We’ve got a phenomenal peripherals business,” Min-Liang Tan, Razer’s CEO told us. “But a couple of years ago we sat down and looked at all the gaming laptops in the market. And we realised... we started asking around to say – about four or five years ago – if we wanted to make a gaming laptop, what did we have to do?”
“Everyone told us it had to so thick, and designed in Taiwan, 15 pounds... and this is what gamers want. But, after buying something like this, we bring it home and never move it; we think we’re going to move it someday, but you’re really better off buying a desktop.”
It’s that perceived lack of true mobility that got the engineers and designers and Razer really thinking. “We want to have our cake and eat it, at the same time,” Min-Liang admits. “Everyone told us that something like that couldn’t exist; it would be too expensive, we’d have to customise the parts... I think the only people who were making anything like that were Apple, back in the day.”
“So we got the same designers, from OQO, who worked on the Powerbook, some of those guys. We told them we want performance portability, and then we built everything.”
Having an incredible level of control over the whole process, from conception to design to engineering – and making sure that process is not directed by anyone in sales or accounts – is key to this kind of process. It’s not just about money. “This is a labour of love; if we wanted to create something that was going to sell, make a profit, or something like that, we’d probably wouldn’t be in this business.”
In fact, when we asked Min-Liang if he thought now was a great time to be making any kind of gaming PC, given the growing exhaustion of current-gen consoles, he looked a little embarrassed. “We never really think of anything like that!”
“Our design process is a little different; the design team sits separate from sales and marketing, and the only time that sales gets to know about any new Razer product, is the same time as every single other person in the world. And that’s why,” he admits, “some of our products are a little batshit.”
It’s easy to hold up some of Razer’s decisions to ridicule – can you say Project Fiona? – but this kind of attitude is really refreshing to come across. Min-Liang, and through him Razer, believes that nothing’s impossible, while at the same time having supreme confidence in the ideas generated by his people, even if they suck, don’t work, or are going to be too expensive.
“The problem is,” Min-Liang went on, “ is that you’re never ever going to be able to create a new category if you consistently say I want something cheaper, or the same as everyone else... but we’re getting a lot of calls right now, from people saying ‘this is interesting’. But that’s what I was trying to tell people four years ago!”
We’ve only a had the briefest of plays with the Razer Blade, but it’s certainly intriguing, and it’s pretty hard to argue with Min-Liang Tan’s attitude to making technology.
Stay tuned for more news on the Blade once we get a review sample, and for more of our chat with him, about working with Intel on thermal design, and whether or not Razer’s Mechwarrior Online controller will ever see the light of day...