Once again, Razer is coming to CES with a unique and impressive laptop prototype, a.ka. Project Linda, a laptop body made specifically for its very own smartphone, the Razer phone, launched 2 months ago. Last year, the Taiwanese brand made a splash at CES with Project Valerie, a retractable tri-monitor laptop, a prototype that was stolen and spotted later on a online store in China.
Project Linda is a 13.3-inch laptop with a Quad HD display and no processor inside, that docks the Razer phone inside its chassis where a touchpad would be located. The smartphone powers the device with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset.
Razer Phone key features
In a nutshell, the Razer Android smartphone “for gamers, by gamers” features an impressive
120Hz “Ultramotion” 5.7-inch QHD IGZO LCD display and Dolby Atmos audio technology for an immersive gaming experience.
On the hardware side, we are looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, and it also comes with a whopping 8GB of RAM, which is unusual for smartphones these days since 4-6GB seems to be the current standard.
The Razer Phone will also pack dual 12MP rear-facing cameras on the back (update?) and a 4,000mAh battery that should keep going all day, but the mileage may vary depending on usage.
According to Kevin Sather, Director of Product Marketing, Razer,“the result has been an amazing response so far, with praises from media and users alike, touting the combination of power and polish, the result is Android experience unlike any other ”
At CES, Razer announced that its phone for gamers will get a camera update. Also, it will be the first smartphone to come with 5.1 Dolby surround sound and HDR. As a result of a partnership with Netflix, the Razer phone delivers what the company says is the “best viewing experience” with a special version of the Netflix application.
Smartphone and Laptop fusion: Razer Project Linda
“Smartphone are becoming more and more powerful and users are demanding more from those devices, laptop of course offer outstanding performance with the convenience of a larger screen and a physical keyboard, but imagine a future where you get the best of both world: so we are introducing Razer Project Linda to expand the power of the Razer Phone [to a laptop body]” said Kevin Sather.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to get my hands on this concept and spend some time with Project Linda prototype, before the official opening of CES 2018. Here are my first impressions.
Industrial Design (Excellent)
Laptop Body integrates the Razer Phone as a trackpad (brilliant)
The 0.59” (15 mm) thin body is crafted from CNC aluminum integrates the Razer phone to the touchpad area, so the smartphone becomes both the trackpad and the brain of the laptop and could support custom user interface and additional tools made by developers. The whole package with the smartphone included is quite light at less than 3 lbs (1.25 kG)- a standard weight for 13-inch form factors.
On the ports side, the prototype includes a USB-A port, a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Razer plans to gather more feedback to decide which number and what type of ports will be in the final product.
Dimensions are similar to the 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptop, speakers have been removed because project Linda leverages the speakers from the phone.
How does it dock?
The Razer phone slides in and connects for data via the USB C port of the phone. To start the docking process, after sliding the phone in the cradle, you have to press a button at the top right of the keyboard, the retractable USB C connector slides into the port of the phone and the laptop turns on. (see photo)
Display & Webcam
The prototype laptop display is a 13.3” Full HD, non-120Hz, non-touch display, but ultimately, Razer plans to replicate the Razer phone display experience there. Kevin Sather said that there is no 13-inch QHD/120Hz touch display currently available, so that’s why Project Linda current prototype at CES got a downgraded panel.
The Razer phone as described in the introduction features a 120Hz “Ultramotion” 5.7-inch QHD IGZO LCD touch display.
One of the benefits of adding a laptop body is to get a more comfortable video call experience while working on the keyboard, thanks to the 720p webcam, and the dual-array microphone.
The full-size keyboard gets the well known Razer Chroma colored backlighting and a few additional custom Android keys for navigation, app selection, and searching. The keyboard is responsive and feels like a Razer laptop keyboard.
Hardware and performance
The brain is in the phone so Project Linda runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset with 8GB RAM, and the laptop body provides an additional 200GB of internal storage.
Snapdragon 835 is today’s most powerful platform available to Android phones, and we have seen recently that it can power Windows 10S laptops as well. With 8GB of RAM, multitasking should not be a problem, so handling a large screen should be fine. In fact, hi-DPI phone displays already have more pixels than many full-size laptops.
Overall, you can expect it to perform like an extremely fancy Android tablet. It would stand to reason that this would use whatever best option there is at launch time, so the new Snapdragon 845 or better might be an option.
Project Linda provides an internal battery Quick-charge feature allowing the smartphone to quickly charge while it is docked to the body. The target is to have 80% of the 4000 mAh battery in the phone charged in one hour.
The laptop has its own internal battery with a 56 Wh capacity, which is quite good for 13-inch form factor, and, it is in addition to the phone’s capacity of 4000 mAh.
Use cases: productivity, photo editing, and gaming
According to Razer there are a lot of use cases that could benefit from Project Linda’s specific form factor and technical specifications. For example, it could increase productivity, thanks to the larger display and the full-size keyboard. Another use case could be editing photos on the big screen and accessing the galleries and albums from the smartphone display.
Enjoying Android games on a larger screen is also an attractive feature, as well as streaming PC games from the cloud or your personal PC in an Android device with full mouse and keyboard support.
Razer showed us a few demos, and the most interesting one was the gaming experience. The Android game was running on the docked phone and was displayed on the large screen, and the gamer was suing the mouse and the keyboard to operate the game.
The Razer phone can be used as a touchpad navigate applications or operate features and menus inside applications, for example for editing photos. The demos were not ll fully functional, as Razer needs to get developers onboard to adapt their user interface to a second screen/touchpad experience, but what I have seen is very promising.
Razer’s Project Linda could be something that many users have wanted for a while: turning their powerful phone into a more productive PC. Razer isn’t the first company to attempt it, but it has a good chance of being the first one to make it work. Phones are much faster today, and both Huawei and Samsung have proven that mobiles can be used as productive “full-size” desktop computers. Maybe Razer can turn its phone into a sleek clamshell laptop. Let’s hope that this innovative prototype turns into an affordable product.