Razer Switchblade

I’m getting ready for a complicated podcast and there isn’t too much new happening. But here is a thing that came up recently. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out.

When I saw the video for the first time I thought it was the parody of an Apple ad. It took me some time to figure out that they are being serious.

So it is a very small Netbook powerful enough for some popular modern games. The idea is to make PC gaming portable. Interesting. There are some reasons why this could work.

First of all, the keyboard thing is intriguing. Of course, I see no good reason to have such a keyboard on a portable device. I suspect that this decision was made because it CAN be done on a portable device. The last time somebody tried something like this they had to manufacture and hook up a tiny, custom LCD screens on every single key. The keyboard ended up costing more than an entire high-end computer. I suspect that with the Switchblade, they are using one large LCD plane and mount transparent keys on top of it. The mechanism for detecting key presses might even be solved by making the LCD plane multi-touch. I have no idea how this turns out but it would be an interesting solution to test.

The games they show are World of Warcraft, Warcraft 3, World of Goo, Quake. Ok, yes. I can imagine some players being interested in a portable World of Warcraft machine. If they manage to find more “system sellers” like that, it could work out well. For example, it could work well with older games where the resolution is much lower. Hell, if they manage to get Starcraft II on it, I might be even interested myself. Generally I like how it puts something as static and clumsy as PC gaming into a compact form factor.

But on the other hand, there are so many things this could go wrong. Is the Screen big enough? How close do I must sit to be able to read things on it? Do the controls work? Is that keyboard really responsive? If I have to put the thing on a table anyway in order to use mouse controls, what is the advantage over a real Notebook? How good is the battery life? How expensive will it be? Does it have a microphone jack?

In any case it feels very futuristic to see such a tiny PC. I’m intrigued by the device and I’m looking forward to find out if the concept works out. What do you think?

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “Razer Switchblade”

  1. Colton

    They said it would be released if they could “solve a heating problem” so I am skeptical that it will see the light of day any time soon. I just don’t see where this would fit into the gaming ecosystem. At least not for me. The problem of mouse support you mentioned is one of the biggest drawbacks. I am not going to be able to pull this out and play World of Warcraft and/or Goo on the Bus. So I need a table to play those. And when there is a table I can just pull out my Laptop. It seems to occupy a no-mans-land somewhere between laptop and Gameboy. If there where PC games that utilized only the keyboard then I could maybe see a use but all I can think of right now is Doom. And you can play that on I OS devices already. Maybe you could play text adventures… they probably won’t cause any heating problems.
    They keyboard technology is cool though.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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