Interview with Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan on the New Razer Edge

Interview with Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan on the New Razer Edge

It appears to be the year of new gaming devices. We know for sure we are getting the Playstation 4 from Sony, probably a new Xbox from Microsoft and a few micro-consoles in the Ouya and Gamestick. Lets not forget that our phones and tablets are also pretty capable gaming devices. And as you can see the world of gaming is all over the place. So that made us even more excited when we heard we were going to have the opportunity to interview the CEO of Razer Min-Liang Tan to discuss their latest product, the Razer Edge. Lets get into our conversation with CEO Min-Liang Tan.

Let’s start out by just asking what exactly is the Razer Edge?

In a single line, the Edge is the world’s first tablet designed for PC gamers. In a sense, it’s also designed by PC gamers. We went an unprecedented route for a hardware manufacturer and used a crowdsourcing effort to inform the final design decisions. We engaged our community (2 million-plus on Facebook) to determine the interest of bringing our 2012 CES “People’s Voice” award-winning Project Fiona concept to market, and tens-of-thousands of them emphatically responded with what turned-out to be invaluable feedback on every aspect of production, from dimensions, weight, GPU, CPU, power supply and memory parameters, to form factor and modes of operation. The advent of the Razer Edge console modes—portable and home— as such, resulted directly from requests for that functionality from our fan base of hardcore gamers, along with the distinct tablet, laptop and home PC modes.

We’re seeing more and more “console” PCs and non-traditional consoles, obviously the Edge but also the “Steambox,” NVIDIA’s Shield, the Ouya and the GameStick. Why do you think that is? Why now?

Video games as a segment of the entertainment industry has surpassed the motion picture industry by revenue, so the future is very bright for companies like Razer as a whole. We’re seeing a huge push toward mobile gaming devices, and the efficacy of such products as made clearly evident in our crowdsourcing initiative for the Razer Edge and resulting acknowledgements at CES this year. The pressure to increase performance and mobility will be formative influences in current and next-generation consoles, but look for ancillary products, from virtual reality devices to wireless controllers, to enhance the experiential part of gaming, and increasing connectivity requirements vis-à-vis social media and online networks to push consoles and gaming devices in general increasingly away from the living room proper and toward a worldwide community, online.

There are a lot of “console” PCs that are on on the horizon, but unlike many, the Edge is working to make the PC portable rather than putting it on a TV screen. What is your design philosophy behind this?

When you look at the Edge and what it can do, it’s a different animal than anything that’s currently on the market. It’s a full-fledged PC. Whether you’re looking for a mobile or home console experience or a PC that’s capable of playing the latest hardcore PC titles out-of-the box, the Razer Edge can handle any demand. If you want to play popular tablet titles like Angry Birds, the Edge has you covered, as well. It’s really the only device of its kind in the world.

Razer has traditionally been about making Pro-quality gaming peripherals, but you have recently made the jump into platforms, first with the Blade, now the Edge. Can you talk about your reasoning behind this move?

We’re a gaming company, at the end of the day, and we’re motivated operationally by all things that drive performance and fun in our avocation--gaming. So, yes, we started out as the first gaming mouse brand and that business is still near-and-dear to us, but we have been growing into additional areas of the business that are relevant to our core values and our community, as our accolade as the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show suggest. Going against the biggest brands in the tech industry, many of which are household names, a PC gaming company was able to come out on top, as Razer won “Best of Show, along with the popular “People’s Voice” Award. We also won several other high-profile awards that were voted on by editors and consumers alike. So, clearly, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it is making sense. To address the question of how we’re doing it, I have to say that nothing has materially changed in terms of structure. Many of the people involved in the business since its inception are working on tablets… others on keyboards, audio or software. In spite of the unprecedented success of our systems program, it’s still business-as-usual at Razer and remains organizationally flat. We’ve grown since our inception, but we’re still organizationally the same: We’re still a business of gamers making products for gamers. There’s just a lot more of us now.

Your site says that the Edge runs Windows 8. Is this Windows 8 Pro or RT?

It’s a full Windows 8 operating system, so users will be able to play their favorite PC games and run applications right out of the box and do anything, accommodate anything and download anything that a comparably equipped laptop or desktop could handle.

What sort of games will the Edge be able to run? Are there any that it will simply not be able to because of either design or specifications?

It’s the most powerful tablet in the world, designed specifically to accommodate the needs of today’s most demanding PC gamers; so, by design, hardcore PC gamers are going to be able to play the latest titles on the Edge.

Who is the intended audience for the Edge, and why should they buy this product over a gaming laptop or desktop?

Nobody has ever successfully put the power of a full-fledged gaming PC into a 2-pound tablet form factor. We’ve unchained people from their desktop or luggable, so the possibilities of mobile PC gaming now are pretty endless. It’s really the only device of its kind in the world, and one that we feel has a broad audience.

What sort of storage will the device have? Can users add their own SD/microSD cards?

The Edge comes with a 64 GB SSD, while the Edge Pro has an option of a 128 GB SSD or 256 GB SSD. The tablet itself has one USB 3.0 port, so gamers can easily plug in an external hard drive to maximize storage space on the device.

Many tablets have good battery life, but that often doesn’t translate into gaming on said tablet. Since the Razer will play AAA games like Dishonored, what is the expected battery life for this product? Will people be expected to spend most of their time tethered to a power cable?

We’re getting about the same battery life running games on the Razer Edge as a typical gaming laptop, about 1-2 hours of hardcore gameplay. We offer an extended battery for the Gamepad Controller (and upcoming Keyboard Dock), and with that, we’ve seen up 3 hours of PC gameplay.

There have been complaints of the news iPads getting too hot and the Edges seems to be quite powerful; far more so than the iPad. How are you handling cooling for the Edge?

We’ve invested and built up one of the largest in-house design teams in the industry, who are tasked on a daily basis to break barriers when it comes to true innovation. We’ve got crazy thermals engineering techniques and some of the best systems minds in the world working solely on Razer products. They specialize in making the impossible possible. That’s a resource we value highly, which powers approach to the business and underscores our credo: By Gamers. For Gamers.

When can we expect to see the Edge on physical and digital shelves?

Right now! You can check out our Where to Buy page, which features a full list of our participating online and in-store retail outlets at http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-edge/wheretobuy.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.