Razer is best known for their gaming mice and keyboards, but they offered up something arguably much more interesting at CES 2011: a 7-inch concept “gaming laptop” with a keyboard that changes according to what you’re playing. The size of the Switchblade puts it in the UMPC segment, but it looks a lot more like a Sony PSP or Nintendo DS.
However, under the hood it’s equipped with an Intel Atom CPU and a full copy of Microsoft Windows 7 with a custom GUI, where you can choose from games, multimedia or other applications. Judging from the previews it appears to be working surprisingly well.
Other than the Atom processor, there are few details available about what actually powers the games, but you can see from the presentations that the Switchblade is powerful enough to run World of Warcraft in the display’s default 1024×600 resolution without any issues. A single-core Atom is generally too weak to run games at decent framerates, which points to some sort of GPU at work.
With just a 7-inch screen, the engineers at Razer have had to squeeze a very small keyboard into the casing, but they have done it with a twist. Each key is capable of shifting between different symbols and icons, and what makes this concept even more interesting is how the Razer uses this for games like WoW. When the game loads, the keyboard changes layout automatically and produces a variety of colorful activity keys like your action bar on the screen.
The Razer Switchblade also comes with USB ports, WiFi support, Bluetooth, and perhaps even 3G (not yet confirmed). Razer has not acknowledged whether they intend to launch the product in its present form, but from the looks of it the Switchblade should have no problems finding an audience. Even if it can’t replace your regular gaming machine, it could definitely pose a threat to regular handheld gaming consoles if it ever goes into mass production.