CES is a place where tech companies can throw out their wildest ideas and see what sticks. That leads to a vaporware, but sometimes the stranger things can be fun.
Case in point: Project Valerie, a new concept laptop from gaming hardware company Razer has three built-in screens. Three screens!
They aren’t cheap screens, either: Each are huge 17-inch panels, loaded up with overly sharp 4K resolutions and Nvidia’s G-Sync tech for smoother frame rates while gaming.
Razer has no current plans to make this available to the public, and it doesn’t know how much the device would cost if it ever did move beyond the concept stage, so any talk about specs is a bit beside the point.
But for what it’s showing off in Las Vegas this week, Razer has modified the already-powerful Razer Blade Pro — what with its mechanical keyboard, and top-of-the-line GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card — made it heavier (around 12 pounds) and twice as thick (about 1.5 inches), and built in a mechanism that lets you slide out and snap back the two additional displays from behind the central one.
I was able to use a rough prototype of Project Valerie for a (controlled) demo this week, and I can confirm that the whole thing is as jarring as it looks. That said, it works. The, ahem, battlefield of a game like “Battlefield 4” extended beyond my field of vision when looking at Valerie straight on, but it did make it easy to see what’s going on from way off in the distance.
That’s a good start, but Razer says any finished product like this would use software to automates the slide-out mechanism and let you angle the displays as needed. Anything pushing this many pixels would likely need more than a single GTX 1080 card to run comfortably, though what I saw stayed relatively free of awkwardness.
Beyond being a feat of engineering, the idea of a multi-monitor laptop does make some sense the more you use it. Many people, myself included, can’t work or game without multiple monitors, then find it annoying to lose that convenience on the road. Having that option available — free of cables, and with the ability to slide it back to a “normal” laptop when needed — has appeal, even if it looks ridiculous.
Still, yes, it’s hard to get past that ridiculousness. Razer says that it’s focusing on the power user and gaming enthusiast market for now, but that it’s possible that it could translate the display setup to a more portable chassis sometime down the road. It also says that it could make it so you could only slide out one display at a time, which would seem a little more practical for anything outside of gaming.
None of this gets around the fact that this thing would likely be super expensive and have terrible battery life — the Blade Pro starts at $3,700 and lasts about 3-4 hours with one display, let alone three. It’d also have a hard time staying cool or quiet, to put it mildly. But for now, Project Valerie as a concept is both intriguing and comically absurd. That’s fitting for CES.