I Just Held The Future Of PC Gaming In My Hands And It's Called Project Fiona

Just stop me when this sounds ridiculous: A tablet. Built for gaming. Like, really built for gaming. With twin analogue joysticks. That are permanently built into it. That's Razer's Project Fiona. And it's more amazing than you think. Video!

Project Fiona is a proof-of-concept and a prototype in the most serious way. What you're looking at is version 0.2. (Razer's already finished work on five more iterations of Fiona — they're up to version 0.8 at their labs, and expecting to hit 1.0 by the end of the year.) I can tell when I feel the heat coming out of the vents, as the fan spins up to cool the Intel Core i7 breathing fire inside. Or when the right analogue stick feels a little sticky.

But when I run my finger along the edges of the brushed aluminium frame that provides Fiona's remarkably rigid structural integrity, or try to make its skeleton flex and creak, it feels more done, more solid than some other very finished tablets I've used. "And frankly, the final product will look much different," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan of Fiona. Which is also why I can't tell you battery life, or how much it'll cost, though Tan is aiming for under $US1000 for the Windows 8-powered tablet (meaning it'll have full PC powers, though Razer is adding some software of their own on the gaming side, like the interface for browsing games).

It's lighter than you'd think, for a tablet that's at least as thick as three iPad 2s — it'll be thinner, promises Tan — and has a pair of sticks bolted onto it. But I rest my elbows on my knees to play Warhammer 40K: Space Marine. And it feels totally natural. If you've ever used an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller, you know how to use Fiona's controls; Razer software takes care of the mapping PC controls to the buttons.

Do you know what the minimum spec requirements are for Space Marine? A 2GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB RAM, 256MB video card. And it ran beautifully on Fiona's glossy 10.1-inch, 1280x800 display. I held PC gaming in my hands, and I killed a bunch of Orcs and it felt fantastic. It sounds stupid that a 10.1-inch screen could be as immersive as a 24-inch display, but when you're able to bring your game up to your face, and it moves with you and your body, it's a different kind of connection. Speaking of moving! It's got an accelerometer and and force feedback, so Razer's already thinking ways PC games could take advantage of gamers having access to traditional controls, touch and movement simultaneously.

The deepest PC gamers might balk at an analogue stick and a handful of buttons truly replicating the PC gaming experience on the go — and I agree an RTS seems pretty hard to squeeze into those controls — but the potential of ubiquitous, for-real PC gaming anywhere, as defined by the games, is pretty incredible to consider even for the most hardened of PC gamers. And even if Fiona is not for them, they should still be thrilled to salty, Cheeto-infused tears that this thing (and the Blade) exists. It pushes the boundaries of what PC gaming is. And Razer might just be the only company willing to save PC gaming by radically re-inventing it at a hardware level.

So while Project Fiona itself might not literally be the future of PC gaming, I still feel like that's exactly what I just held in my hands.


Comments

    Reminds me of the bot controllers used in Real Steel.

      +1 that's what they were reminding me of too! Except I wasn't dancing.

        Exact same thing I was thinking of as well!

        The amount of want that I currently have, simply cannot be expressed in one breath!

    Matt, how the hell is that PC gaming?? The whole pc/console divide is due to the control scheme and THAT, my friend, has console controls.

      Really, so when I use my Xbox controller on my pc I am actually playing a console? Who knew?!

        why would you do such a thing?

          Skyrim is better with a controller IMO, as is Witcher 2

          Some games are better with controllers. I play stuff like Assassin's Creed/Prince of Persia with a controller.

            I agree these games are usually console ports so were meant to be played with a controller anyway. However for FPS, RTS and the majority of RPG's the mouse + keyboard combo is infinitely superior

              Uh Uh, could you imagine RTS games that had a control scheme geared towards this, using your fingers to move through the battlefield and tap onscreen macros would be a blast! FPS' still have the dual analog control scheme which is more than enough considering some (I dare say this) console players are better than PC players (I use my Xbox controller on my PC all the time when I play BF3) and then RPG's are pretty much in the exact same boat as FPS' !! Add in gyro support and it can even make for a fun driving experience.

                Sadly, a mouse and keyboard offers vastly superior precision, this was shown in a study where PC gamers thrashed console gamers no matter what. The controller is a more comfortable gaming peripheral, but will never match the precision and speed of a mouse and keyboard.

                  Well I'm pretty certain that the majority of people use a keyboard and mouse on BF3, so wait, tell me how the controller is worse if I'm getting MVP 1-2/3 of the time? In the end, it doesn't matter what peripherals your using, player skill is the key factor, a keyboard and mouse won't turn a terrible player to Chuck Norris...... I'm sure the majority of MLG Halo players would take the PC players to town any day of the week with a controller.

          I enjoy racing and flying games but not enough to invest in dedicated hardware, so I use an Xbox controller, giving me an analogue input option that will be good enough for most uses.

          Who wouldn't use an xbox controller... way better! sit back on my recliner with my 58" pure awesome..

          or you could hunch over your keyboard and mouse at a desk with your head 30cm away from the screen

            Because hooking up a gaming machine to 58" screen is totally a console-only thing...

      I have a gaming PC with an Xbox 360 controller... So that must mean I am console gamer huh? Now, my friend, where are those old Xbox 360 games of mine, I am sure they will work in my newly discovered console PC.

    So holding a big ass screen instead of relaxing in front of it is the future of PC gaming? Screw that, I'll leave the weights at the gym.

      Oh and PS Vita says hi.

    Why on earth didn't they do the controllers/grips as a dock. If it's a kick ass windows tablet then the gaming makes it even better but the way it is the grips detract for everyone BUT gamers.

    This would be more beneficial for hospital use I'm sure.

    damn it i so dont understand this portable gaming stuff. its not like your gonna sit on the bus and try and whip out a game of bf3. they should be concentrating more on makin that razer blade more awesome than it already is, like putting the mouse pad on the right was just awesome, but the custom keys above it?? jam those puppys between the F keys and number keys and u'd have the most baller pc of all time. long story short concentrate on something pc gamers would wanna whip out at a lan, that fiona just looks silly to me.

    I thought this was Microsoft's fabled portable, then I stopped looking at the picture and then actually read what it was.

    The future of PC gaming is downgrading to a 10" screen you have to hold in front of your face? I don't think so Matt.

    I imagine that no matter how little it weighs, holding ure arms out with that thing hanging between them and having to look down at it is going to be more effort than any other setup.
    It will be unwieldy at best.

    Oh also... theres a reason an xbox controller only has buttons next to one of the analog sticks...

    I could possibly see myself using this if the gaming controls could be detached and you could use the device as a regular tablet. If not though, I would be too embarrased to use it anywhere outside the house.

      Also it sounds really forced and awkward when a CEO uses gamer slang in a presentation.

    What on Earth makes you think PC gaming needs saving? It's going from strength to strength, it's not even plateauing.

    "Future of PC gaming"

    I'm sorry, what now?

      Oh you're exactly right Kris, PC gaming is clearly becoming obsolete. You might want to avoid this infographic, it might force you to pull your head out of the sand:

      http://ignitegt.com/2011/09/pc-vs-console/

        So you point to an infographic that shows when Starcraft 2 came out, PC gaming overtook console gaming for the first time since before the graph shows, and that Starcraft 2 (the highest selling PC game) sold a whopping 30,000 more units than the highest selling console game?

        Not terribly convincing.

        HAHAHA, oh god, that was one of the most hypocritical things I've ever read, I love PC gaming and the freedom you get with playing it over consoles, but please, we all know PC gaming as we know it is on it's last knee, that's why I'm so excited about projects like these, ones that might be able to breath a second wind into PC gaming.

        Unfortunately, the fine print states that those statistics on PC gaming include social media games, casual game websites and other 'PC' platforms. So basically, 80% of those numbers are 2 minute, unimaginative, worthless, slow paced flash in the pan games, that have an average lifespan of 6 months.

        Also, they go on to say Starcraft II the best selling PC game sold 721, 000 copies in comparison to the console's best selling game which sold 692, 000 copies and this game is.......NCAA (HUH!?) No seriously, they did not just say NCAA was the best selling console game, for the past three years Call of Duty games have been consistently getting into the 30mill + ball park during their lifespan, and yet somehow they name NCAA as consoles best selling game.....yehh right

    Personally its smack in between "proper gaming" on a console or PC and mobile gaming, and I think it has no place.

    I'd call it "The future of Console Gaming", in that in any way I look at it (apart from the actual OS/games it runs) it's a console.

    Console: Joystick and simple button control, limited to no upgradability or customizability.
    PC: Keyboard/mouse control, upgradeable, customizable.
    If I could suddenly play any PC game on the xbox, I wouldn't call it the future of PC gaming, and vice versa.

    why does the future of PC gaming have no mouse?

    Not really the future of 'PC gaming', but it certainly presents an interesting category between console, pc and mobile gaming devices.

    I think if they get the feature set right (compatibility with peripheral devices and a touch screen are too MUST HAVES) and they keep the device flexible from an application standpoint, Fiona has a lot of potential. It's certainly a good utilisation of Windows 8, in my opinion.

    Think about how this can be another Wii U. If you want a big screen, just let this render it for you. You can use the entire tablet and the joysticks as controls :) Nice

    Sorry... I prefer a mouse and keyboard...

    be better as standalone clip on thingy that works with EVERY TABLET

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