Published on January 11th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
CES 2012: Razer Project Fiona Hands-on Impressions
The Razer Project Fiona and ASUS EEE Pad Transformer Prime have been two of the most popular gaming tablets to come from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The power of each tablet brings a vision of PC gamers purchasing a tablet to game on, and console gamers closer to being able to game on primarily PC.
I got to spend a little time with one of these gaming tablets behind closed doors. After only recently stepping outside of my comfort level and easing my way into PC gaming with, it was surprisingly easy to pick up and play when it came to loading a few games on the Razer Project Fiona.
The first thing that players will find comforting is the user interface. The UI was reflective of any other Windows 7 product, but Product Developer Thomas Alex is gunning for a Windows 8 based system. Also, Associate Manager Hilmar Hahn said that the product is still in its early stages despite the fact that it is a full-fledged working device.
Console gamers will find that there is controller comfort that can also be found in the design. Things like button mapping and force feedback are available in the 16-button design. Razer is also working on getting a THX certification, and in my experience, would eliminate a lot of tablets out there that lack in the sound quality department. There were two pressurized buttons on the face of the controllers, but at this point the “start” had not even been painted on yet. Although minuscule polishing details have yet to be completed, players like myself are still wondering about the side controller design.
Each tap of the button was similar to a mouse click. There was precision in the dual-stick layout, each clicking in like new age console controllers do. Thomas and Hilmar also agreed that SWOTR brought with it compatibility and a action-based play with the use of the button layout.
When I asked Thomas about whether the controllers would be detachable in the final product, he simply had replied that the product was still in development. Something promising about this, as well as other design features was that they want “community input” to shape the final design.
Some of the other things that I immediately noted about the device was whether or not it would support some sort of video out. Some of the ideas they are exploring are things like a docking station, or HDMI out. This also lead to whether the device was going to be able to stream to a wireless HDTV, but that too was still part of the final plan.
While this would be a great device to purchase for yourself, you might ask, “What if my friend brings his over?” Thomas and Hilmar stated that I was one of the few people that had asked about the tablets multiplayer abilities. They hinted that Bluetooth and wireless networks are two viable options for multiplayer abilities. Thomas noted that Intel Wi-Fi direct is also a possibility.
While it is unsure where exactly this multiplayer will end up, it has already been confirmed that Steam and On Live support will be featured on the device. The Steam client was also the launching point for the only title that we had enough time to play before they closed up shop for the day.
One of the most important things players will want to know is, “How do the games look on a gaming tablet?” We launched Warhammer 40K Space Marine, which loaded a lot quicker than one of the other titles demoed. The game didn’t skip a beat and looked great on the 10.1″ screen. The resolution of the device was also confirmed at 1280X800. After a few adjustments in the button layout, both mappable in Steam and through the regular settings, it was off to slash and shoot. The game performed well and we had a seamless run through. There was a little lag towards the end, but that can be expected from a concept design in the early stages being run all day long.
The great thing about the Razer Fiona is that they were “…not dismissing console gamers.” With that being said, Thomas also agreed that they weren’t going to look past those who just want their casual tablet PC for light gaming. When asked what will draw PC gamers to the tablet, Thomas Alex said, “Razer follows core gamers.”
The Razer Fiona is a very impressive tablet. It is an even better looking gaming PC tablet. I found huge comfort placing former keyboard and mouse combinations into a console friendly controller layout. Also, the separated grips also give PC players a traditional mouse-type-feel. The price-point of USD $1,000 does seem a little hefty, but not if it is replacing your traditional laptop or desktop PC. It is still a wonder what the community will respond with in regards to the mobility of the tablet with its current controller scheme.
Make sure to check out Razer’s official site for updates. You can expect to see this tablet by Q4, sometime around the release of Windows 8.