Razer’s New Blade Laptop, the Multi-Part Review, Part 2

As we continue our long form look into the newest Razer Blade Gaming laptop, I want to take on a few more design points. While this might not seem as important as clock speed or graphics performance, it’s going to make a difference when you play games and when you use the laptop for other tasks.

The keyboard’s look and feel is very much influenced by the latest Mac laptop. The keys don’t have an HP or Dell-like super-spring-like typewriter feel to them. They’re positioned low and close to the laptop base. While they have a slight springy feel to them, it’s easy to tap them. My guess is they’re easier on the fingertips than most laptops.

But the keyboard and the surrounding area do indeed become fingerprint ridden. That’s probably why Razer includes a cleaning cloth with the system. I wasn’t eating prior to using the device. But there still was a fair amount of oil present on the keys.

The touchpad isn’t in the middle of the laptop. It’s to the right of the Blade’s keyboard. It took some getting used to after using a touchscreen placed below the laptop’s center for over a decade. What I did find eventually is that the up and down keys (near the spacebar) and the touchscreen work really well with my thumb and pinky.

Above the touchpad are two rows of five buttons. These have Steam, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like already programmed in for your convenience. They’re called Dynamic Adaptive Tactile Keys, which is saying a mouthful. But what’s impressive is that you can change them and add your own links fairly easily. If you like the Circle site or Polygon or Kotaku, you can put those in as well.

The touchpad has a fascinating twist: it becomes a kind of second monitor, a mini-screen which might be useful for viewing YouTube game tips or Wikis while gaming, or while momentarily pausing your game.

While I found using the touchpad as a mouse to be very precise and a breeze to use, I found tapping a link on the touchpad a bit of a problem. Sometimes a tap worked immediately. Sometimes, I had to tap three or four times, or more, for the monitor to go to the desired link.

And how does the Blade feel on the lap? It balances there quite well. It hasn’t overheated while playing to the point of burning my thigh – like my previous HPs and Dells have done. It’s just gotten a bit warm. And it has never gotten hot on the keyboard area, either.

One final note: I used the laptop’s camera to Skype my talk about videogame writing with the University of Iowa’s journalism school last night. (They’re using All Your Base Are Belong to Us as the textbook at the college’s first videogame journalism course.) Happily, there was never any drop of audio or of one video frame during the hour we spoke.

Note: Part 3 is coming on soon. So stay tuned.

-Harold Goldberg, Founder

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