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Hands-On: Razer’s Edge Gaming Tablet

LAS VEGAS — Gaming PCs optimized for gaming are a well-known quantity. But what about a tablet?
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LAS VEGAS — Gaming PCs optimized for gaming are a well-known quantity. But what about a tablet?

Earlier this week, peripheral manufacturer Razer announced its Windows 8-powered gamer tablet called Edge, which will be available this year at $999 (a specific release date wasn’t given). We stopped by at the Consumer Electronics Show here to give the Edge a test drive.

The tablet looks to redefine mobile gaming as much as the iPhone and iPad did. It will have options to play as a basic tablet, with a wireless keyboard attachment, or using a pair of lengthy analog controllers attached to the sides, though you can take the tablet out of that case, if you prefer. The Edge can show the action not only on its 10.1-inch screen but also connect to a TV via an HDMI cable. It runs on a Windows 8-based system, though its main purpose is running games through Steam.

When you grip the Edge for the first time, you’ll realize that it’s not quite portable. It’s a rather big unit, measuring almost a foot-and-a-half in length with the analog sticks. It almost feels like an enlarged airplane controller. However, once you start up a game — as we did with the racing title “DiRT Showdown” — you’ll forget about the size and simply enjoy the ride.

Empowered by an Nvidia mobile graphics card and Intel processors, the Edge performs like a real beast, even with the most demanding of games. We took a few laps of “Showdown” and marveled at the smooth frame rate. There were barely any hitches in performance or graphic beauty. We tried it out both on the tablet and through the television — utilizing a docking station that will sell for an additional $99, and comes with an HDMI port. It ran wonderfully in both setups.

The only downside is its battery life. It only supports about an hour of gaming when it’s not in its charger, though you can buy a rechargeable battery — which lasts about two hours — for $69.

What’s even more surprising is how well the Edge handles. The two controllers mounted on the side of the pad react very smoothly with the on-screen action, responding to even the slightest touch. The sticks, buttons and triggers are quite easy to access, and the built-in rumble is awesome, helping you feel every turn and crash as you play through the game. [See also: Best Fighting Game Controller: MadCatz Arcade FightStick Vs. ]

“DiRT” is just one of the games that supports the new device. Razer has stated that several Steam-enabled games across the board have no problem running on the Edge, including more action-packed games like “ Far Cry 3 ” and “Dishonored.”

And options will be available for those who want to get the most out of the Edge. A basic model for $999 comes with a 64 GB SSD drive Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. The Edge Pro, going for $1,299, antes up with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and either a 128 or 256 GB SSD drive, plenty of room for game storage. (We tested the basic version.)

Though it’s a bit costlier than either the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS, there’s no question that the Edge has plenty of horsepower beneath the hood, expanding just what a portable gaming experience can be.

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