A discussion about the Razer Blade

primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' BoopinDetroit, MI
edited October 2011 in Gaming

Comments

  • BuddyJBuddyJ Dept. of Propaganda OKC
    edited August 2011
    I think half the folks in staff chat are butthurt and jelly because they don't want to admit that they're tempted to buy it just on looks alone. Looks like Razer has some balls and is trying to capture the MacBook crowd with a PC product. Can't knock 'em for trying.
  • RyanMMRyanMM Ferndale, MI
    edited August 2011
    The touchpad is total fucking fail for lefties like myself. From the GPU to the CPU to the SINGLE spinner (LOL!) hard drive, this laptop has FAIL written all over it.
  • BuddyJBuddyJ Dept. of Propaganda OKC
    edited August 2011
    Oh yeah... further thoughts. I think mertesn can attest the battery life on his powerhaus laptop as being pretty skint when actually playing games. Is it possible that Razor's concessions are in part due to trying to make a laptop that you can actually use without being leashed to a wall plug?
  • mertesnmertesn I am Bobby Miller Yukon, OK
    edited August 2011
    Buddy J wrote:
    I think half the folks in staff chat are butthurt and jelly because they don't want to admit that they're tempted to buy it just on looks alone. Looks like Razer has some balls and is trying to capture the MacBook crowd with a PC product. Can't knock 'em for trying.
    Buying on looks alone is for the Apple crowd. I love the keyboard and touchpad (though the touchpad's placement is a bit concerning) and would love to see it in future designs, but the problem is the specs for the price. $2800 for a dual core system with a weak GPU? I said it before and I'll say it again: pass.
  • pseudonympseudonym Michigan
    edited August 2011
    RyanMM wrote:
    The touchpad is total fucking fail for lefties like myself.

    GET OUT OF HERE FLANDERS!

    Stupid sexy Flanders.....

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  • edited August 2011
    No AMD = fail.

    Okay, flame bait out of the way, I have to say that is a sexy looking piece of mobile engineering. I'm not the type that would want it, because I'd rather build my own small form factor box to lug to a lan just to say I built it, but I bet some folks will go wild for it.

    For nearly 3K, it had better come with a fantastic warranty and service package. As nice as it looks, I'm a little concerned about having that much hardware in a cramped laptop enclosure.
  • edited August 2011
    I'm not tempted by it at all; I have a second generation HP Envy17. Which is a full generation older than the Razer. It cost half as much brand new. It has 8GB, dual 320GB HDDs, and a Radeon HD5850M driving a 17" 1920x1080 LED backlit screen. The aesthetics are not dissimilar; rounded and curved, aluminum chassis, slot load DVD, etcetera. It also will perform on par or better than this offering.

    Lesson one learned in the 1990's though: don't compete with Dell. Don't even try. And for the love of all that is holy, do not ever taunt Dell! They have more money, more time, and will take a loss on a model or line to drive volume and drive competitors out. Razer may seem to be financially good now, but the fact is they don't have Dell's marketing budget. They don't have Dell's R&D budget.

    On top of that, margins between peripherals and PCs, even before the massive R&D costs associated with a laptop like that, are very slim. (We just talked about HP considering dumping PSG how long ago, again?)

    But the biggest problem? Just comes down to the specs, yes. It looks like Razer had this in development for too long. The thermal envelope appears to be designed for the i7-6xx series (35W) since quad-core is 45W. The fact that they went dual instead of quad makes little sense, though they are going with the highest clocked dual core. But why not an i7-2760QM? It's 10W TDP higher and $32 more. That's it. Single 320GB HDD with no SSD option makes even less sense (and points to a very long development cycle possibly.)

    Not only that, but this laptop won't be out till 4Q11, where it's likely to be stacking up against the next generation of Radeon Mobile parts. We're talking about a two generation difference with a lower TDP, likely to have drastically higher performance.

    So, let's do some quick perspective gathering:
    17" laptop, gaming capable, must have 8GB memory.
    HP Envy17: i7-2630 Quad Core, Radeon HD6850M 1GB, 8GB memory, 300GB SSD, 6 cell and 9 cell batteries: $2040.
    Dell Alienware M17x: i7-2630 Quad Core, Radeon HD6970M 2GB, 8GB memory, 640GB (2x320GB) RAID0, 1920x1080 display: $2,250
    Sager NP8170-S1: i7-2820 Quad Core, GeForce GTX560M 1.5GB, 16GB memory, 300GB Intel SSD, 1920x1080 3D HD w/shutter glasses: $2,500
    Are these heavier? Yep. Bulkier? Sure.
    Better gaming platforms? Unquestionably. Faster? SSD and RAID would indicate "duh." (Dell has an SSD option too, FYI.) Cheaper? The most expensive one is still $300 less.

    It's just not a good idea to get into this area, no matter who you are. Margins are crap, competition is stiff, and the market is extremely weak. Look at HP's numbers on laptops - consumer (aka gaming) is down double digits three quarters in a row, being offset by commercial (Z workstations, EliteBook, etc.) Companies like Origin PC and such are quite literally, putting their logo sticker on stock Sager and Compal parts, and marking them up. There's a reason for that.

    So who is Razer trying to sell this to? The nouveau riche. Except, they aren't going to make those sales either here. One, it's too cheap for them - they want to spend over $3000. Two, it's not luxurious enough when compared to things like Origin PC's Big O, Sony Vaio Bond Z, gScreen, Monk Bogballe, and so on. Remember the Dell Adamo? It aimed at a similar segment; ultra slim prestige luxury. It didn't last a year. But Dell had a plan B for the R&D costs, putting some features into Inspiron and XPS. Razer does not have a plan B thus far; they'll have to come up with a whole new laptop on top of all the designs they already scrapped, which will have to be sold at lower margins, at a lower cost, in greater volume.

    This doesn't preclude success, but let's be blunt: succeeding as an ODM is hard to begin with. Razer bought an ODM. Just for their own laptop. The successful ODMs are delivering a lot of laptops to a lot of customers. They invested millions in tooling and equipment. They started from scratch. That is a lot of expense. They're going to have to sell an incredible amount of laptops at a relatively high margin to make that back. Maybe they see something I missed, but if Dell couldn't pull it off with the Adamo, I don't have high hopes here.
  • PetraPetra Palmdale, CA USA
    edited August 2011
    From my point of view, I *really* like what they did with the keyboard/trackpad layout (putting the trackpad to the right of the keyboard). It's just too bad that they missed the mark when it comes to hardware specs and price point.
  • BasilBasil Nubcaek England
    edited August 2011
    Like the keyboard, pity about what it's attached to.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited August 2011
    $1200 in hardware for $2800. No thank you. Innovative, though.
  • NiGHTSNiGHTS San Diego
    edited August 2011
    Razer has done a wonderful job of making consoles look more attractive, IMO. The "savior of PC gaming" is a $3000 laptop.

    My m11x is
    a truly portable, lightweight machine that is specifically designed for gamers
    too. It was $700.
  • RyanMMRyanMM Ferndale, MI
    edited August 2011
    NiGHTS wrote:
    Razer has done a wonderful job of making consoles look more attractive, IMO. The "savior of PC gaming" is a $3000 laptop.

    My m11x is too. It was $700.

    I think this strikes at the crux of why this is a total fail.

    Either you want portability, in which case you want a small screen and lower powered hardware, or you want a bigger screen and more power. Using weak hardware to squeeze a 17" screen and a slim formfactor together aims for a niche that's too small to matter.

    It's totally asinine, and it's hard to understand how such a total breakdown occurred from a company that's done a decent job of staying up on what gamers want.
  • edited August 2011
    Let me say, if they put that slick little LCD interface along one of their cherry MX mechanical key-sets, I could see myself paying $200 for a keyboard, maybe slightly more.
  • edited August 2011
    This is refreshing, and they did a great job marketing it so far. Remember price is part of the marketing mix, consider the target market here. My guess is they are going after rich parents of male teenage gamers. Full page WSJ ad much? You guys can rage about hardware to price ratio, but that doesn't matter. This is business folks, and they took a nice risk here. I dig it, and honestly that little keyboard lcd is shmexy. I hope this works out for them.
  • edited August 2011
    This is refreshing, and they did a great job marketing it so far. Remember price is part of the marketing mix, consider the target market here. My guess is they are going after rich parents of male teenage gamers. Full page WSJ ad much? You guys can rage about hardware to price ratio, but that doesn't matter. This is business folks, and they took a nice risk here. I dig it, and honestly that little keyboard lcd is shmexy. I hope this works out for them.

    Except for the facts that contradict it. Dell did the same thing with Adamo. Guess what? It failed miserably. HP did the same thing with Voodoo. Guess what? It failed miserably. And that was in a boom economy mid-bubble, both times.
    Not to mention, the fact that the economics simply don't work out. You can't be an ODM and boutique in the same sentence, no matter how cool you think they are. Economic realities are economic realities. My estimate is that the actual margin on that $2800 price tag is <$100, or around 2-4%, before support and warranty costs. (Rest assured, the actual number will not be disclosed.) That means they have to make it up in volume, on a niche system, which is very expensive and difficult to make compared to every other laptop on the market.

    This isn't a "nice risk," it's "ignoring 21 years of lessons learned by others." It's financial suicide. It's ignoring the entire business model of ODM and pretending reality doesn't apply, because somebody thought this would be cool. ODMs work on volume, period. Volume is why Winbook went from manufacturing their own laptops, to sourcing engineering from Compal, to badging stock Compals, to being turned into a Microcenter brand badging LCDs.
    Volume is why I can name every laptop ODM worldwide from memory: Clevo, Compal, Quanta, and Wistron. If you own a laptop, it was actually built by one of these companies. The only exception is Samsung, who has their own manufacturing capabilities due to their LCD experience. Everyone else co-engineers or outsources manufacturing to one or more of these companies.

    Chances are, Razer already knew they had insufficient volume; otherwise, they would have called one of them. Quanta could easily produce the Blade from Razer's engineering work; I mean, these are the people who built the Thinkpad W-series. They built the Adamo. The only reason you don't call in one of them, is because you don't have enough volume to get them to commit to producing your exclusive parts. (In a down economy, these guys are not overcommitted on capacity, either.) And don't try pulling the 'quality' card; ODMs build to manufacturer specs, including QC specs and QA pass/fail. They will build it exactly the way you want.
    Razer's business decisions here were likely born of ignorance and ego; what could go wrong? They're Razer, they'll magically sell! They've already learned lesson one: R&D is expensive and difficult. Lesson two? Tooling is expensive as hell. Lesson three? If you don't have volume, you don't have a chance of surviving. Lesson four, Dell has volume and more money and will destroy you if they decide you're a threat.

    And the claims that Razer is doing great financially are honestly, ridiculous. Nobody here knows their finances any more than I do; I can make educated guesses on costs from experience in OEM/ODM and knowledge of the involved equipment. But Razer is a privately held company and they do not release, nor are they required to release financial information. For all we know, they could be hemorrhaging cash and being propped up by a revolving door of investors. Or they could be riding on a $200M+ warchest built on the high margin peripherals.

    To be clearer; I don't think Razer's a bad company, nor do I wish them anything but success. But economic reality has a way of intruding on that. And frankly, this kind of a blunder has a history of completely destroying companies. And I don't want to see that happen to Razer, because they made a foolish business decision.

    By the way, the LCD interface and keyboard from the Blade was actually a dual-path development product. It's not clear whether it was SW:TOR keyboard first or the Blade first, though Blade first is more likely. But it's the same mechanicals, so your wish won't quite come true - you can have the LCD goodies, but only in scissor-switch and not mechanical.
  • edited August 2011
    Root:
    You're absolutely right, what the hell was I thinking?
    :)
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited August 2011
    RootWyrm wrote:
    Except for the facts that contradict it.

    ...

    To be clearer; I don't think Razer's a bad company, nor do I wish them anything but success. But economic reality has a way of intruding on that. And frankly, this kind of a blunder has a history of completely destroying companies. And I don't want to see that happen to Razer, because they made a foolish business decision.

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  • CantiCanti =/= smalltime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9K18CGEeiI&feature=related
    edited August 2011
    97mlwl.jpg
  • djmephdjmeph Detroit
    edited August 2011
    Razer is a terrible fucking company. My blood was boiling while reading this and the comments. After my experience with a Razer product, which I have posted about in the past, there is absolutely no way anyone should ever consider buying the Blade.

    This product seems to be on the exact same path as the Razer Lycosa. A product that looks cool, and seems legit on paper, but then you buy it and realize that Razer has absolutely no clue what they're doing. The problem I had with the Razer Lycosa is that it had a touch-controlled area for turning on the backlit keys, changing volume, and a few other functions. The touch area would get fingerprints or collect dust and it wouldn't take long before the whole keyboard would start to malfunction, usually right in the middle of a game. Each time I would have to unplug the keyboard, and wipe off the touch area with a paper towel and some alcohol, then plug it back in to get it to work. But after a while it seemed to just want to malfunction on its own, even if the touch area wasn't dirty at all.

    When I called Razer's tech support, they said it was my fault, but they wouldn't replace the keyboard because another one would have the exact same problem. I eventually removed the touch area module and it works fine, but I had to sacrifice the backlit keys, which are just solid black when there are no lights on. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the keyboard/mouse on the blade is just a re-incarnation of the Lycosa. Looks great in pictures, but probably a massive fail in use.

    As Rootwyrm said, you can get the HP Envy 17 for about half the price, and it has the option for a quad-core processor, as well as a Radeon 6850M. They also go up to 16GB of ram. I've been using my Envy 14 for gaming, and I find the low-profile backlit keys to be great for gaming. Don't see myself ever using a touchpad for gaming, but who knows. As Ryan said, they've completely cut out the left-handed market with the placement of the touchpad anyways, so let's just assume that no one at Razer even thought about that. Pretty much par for the course for that company. No one there seems to think about anything.

    As far as I am concerned, Razer has done nothing to deserve a premium price tag like this, or to be trusted that their products will work the way they say they will. Fuck that whole company.
  • djmephdjmeph Detroit
    edited August 2011
    I have a question, of sorts. Has any gaming laptop makers ever considered partnering up with Logitech? I've always been happy with the products that I bought from them, not just because they work the way they're supposed to, but they last for a long time as well. For instance, I still have the original Logitech Laser MX 1000 mouse, which I bought at least a year before I got the Lycosa, and it still works great. Since my snafu with the Razer Lycosa I have continued to purchase devices exclusively from Logitech, and they have all served me well. Would love to see a laptop company partner with them. I know a lot of you use their gaming keyboards.
  • edited August 2011
    This looks like a great machine. But it's too expensive. I appreciate why it costs so much, putting together that kind of build quality along with high quality specs isn't cheap, not to mention the multi-touch LCD trackpad (!!!). Given the choice I'd totally choose this over a Macbook Pro, and I always wanted a real powerhouse gaming machine that I can still easily take out to places. But still too expensive, can't justify 3 grand on a laptop no matter how good. Let's get this closer to $2000 and it's sold!
  • edited October 2011
    RootWyrm, you wrote : "Volume is why I can name every laptop ODM worldwide from memory: Clevo, Compal, Quanta, and Wistron."

    Mentioning Clevo along the others is an insult to engineering and quality - and an unforgiveable insult in terms of reliability.

    First, Clevo is a 2nd tier with yearly production of 1,8 million laptop barebones. Compal had 40-45, Quanta has 40-45, Wistron has 15-20 million. Other bigs are Inventec around 15 million and Pegatron( former Asus ) around 10 million, and newcomer Foxconn around 10-15 million units.

    Second, I was working in a whitebox manufacturer and upper management decided to go with Clevo : they had cheaper barebones, had more unique faces, would ship in very small lots of even 20 units and were flexible. Unfortunately they did not have enough engineering teams for each and every model and their production facilities were not on par with Compal.

    The result has been a disaster, of those 70,000 laptops we built on Clevo, we have taken back almost all of them in two year warranty period. Then we switched to Compal - but the brands had taken such a big beating, they never recovered.

    Clevo has good barebones too : but they are the expensive ones and got enough engineers working on them.

    That's the reason Clevo has always been a second tier manufacturer and they always will be a second tier manufacturer - their volumes will always be on the bottom among other second tiers : Mitac, ECS, MSI, Twinhead etc.
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