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Razer to release the Blade, a new way to look at gaming laptops

At last year’s CES, one of the most attention grabbing devices was Razer’s concept gaming laptop, the Switch Blade. It was about the size of a portable DVD player, but it had a jaw-dropping feature: individual programmable keys. Each key was programmable, allowing macro commands at the touch of a button. It was specifically designed for gaming, so you could do away with some of the keys gamers never used and fully customize your experience.

The device was new and unique, and it took home dozens of awards from CES 2011. It was the belle of the ball, and it convinced Razer to continue development of the product and manufacture a version for commercial production.

Fast forward a year to CES 2012, and behold the finalized production version of the newly rechristened Razer Blade. There have been a few notable changes to the device, beginning with the name of the laptop–it was a simple change from Switch Blade to just Blade.

More notably was the loss of having every key be programmable. While in theory it may sound like a neat idea to have every key be programmable, but the reality is that only the most hardcore of gamers would have the patience to program each and every key with macros or custom key placement. It is just easier to learn the default key commands. Beyond that, there are practical concerns, and you have to think that a fully programmable keyboard would likely make raise the cost of the product to insane levels. It is just more practical to have an actual keyboard, not to mention useful for commands other than gaming. But the idea was not forgotten, just refined into a very cool new idea.

The programmable key design is still very much alive and well, it has just moved over to the side. The keys on the right flank a screen, which is a trackpad, and it doubles as an LCD display. Imagine playing a game online and having to wait for others to get ready. Fans of MMORPG know that this can be a brutally long wait. So why not load up YouTube and watch videos while you wait, or surf the internet?

The right side screen features a built-in browser–there is a browser in the keyboard. Let that sink in for a second.

But first and foremost, the device is also a well-designed and streamlined gaming laptop, that can compete with the best of gaming laptops. It is slim, light weight, and features just about everything you would need.

Check out the video below, then look for the Blade sometime in Q1 for a price of $2,799.