Review: Razer Blade Pro

Review: Razer Blade Pro

When Razer unveiled the first Blade back in 2011, the laptop's thin aluminium unibody design was quite the sensation. It introduced an LCD touchscreen that doubled as a second screen and a touchpad, dubbed Razer Switchblade UI.

The latest third-generation Blade, now christened the Blade Pro, puts the latest hardware into this chassis. But Razer is no longer the only vendor to offer such a thin gaming machine. The MSI GS70 Stealth looks very much like the Razer Blade Pro, but without the LCD touchscreen.

This touchscreen feels more like a hindrance in Windows 8 because it is difficult to execute edge-swipe gestures. The numeric keypad has also been sacrificed to make space for this touchscreen.

More importantly, the Switchblade UI has yet to fulfil the potential over the two years since its debut. The original idea was that it would be a second screen for gamers to access their Gmail, Facebook or Twitter while they continued with their games. It also has 10 programmable keys that could be customised as short cuts or function keys for games.

When I tried the Switchblade UI on the Blade Pro, there appeared to be little progress. There were few third-party apps and custom game controls. Besides, users would probably use their mobile devices for social media and Web browsing instead of this tiny touchscreen.

The flaws of the Blade Pro's slim design - a shallow keyboard and no SD card reader - are also more glaring with the arrival of the MSI GS70 Stealth, which addresses these two concerns while, at the same time, adding more ports.

Then there is the price: the MSI laptop is significantly more affordable. Performance-wise, both laptops are very similar, with the Blade Pro having a slightly more powerful battery.

Perhaps it is time for Razer to rethink the design of the Blade Pro. Removing the touchscreen would be a good first step. I personally would choose the 14-inch Blade, which won an Editor's Choice award recently over the Pro version.

The latest Blade Pro remains a capable gaming laptop but it could do with a redesign or a more affordable price tag.

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