Razer Switchblade portable gaming PC heads to China

Netbook-like gaming device will ship in China first, then in other markets

The Razer Switchblade, a small portable PC with a keyboard that can be customized for gaming, will first be released in China and feature games developed by one of the country's' largest Internet companies, Tencent.

Razer, the U.S. company behind the gaming platform, made the announcement on Wednesday at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing. The company has touted the Razer Switchblade as a revolutionary product that will allow users to enjoy PC games on the fly.

The netbook-like device runs Windows 7 on Intel's latest Atom processor, the Z670. While it can be used like any other PC, Razer built it for gaming. It has a 7-inch touch screen, and a programmable keyboard built over an LCD panel so that keyboard legends can be changed from a standard QWERTY layout to a gaming configuration, displaying specialized icons depending on what's being played.

The Razer Switchblade was shown off in its conceptual stages at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. But now the product is being localized to meet the demands of Chinese gamers, said Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.

"We think we have a phenomenal opportunity in China," he said. "I think that our focus is on China, and then we'll explore the rest of the world."

The country has 457 million Internet users. This has helped support an online gaming market that reached about $4.8 billion in transaction volume last year, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

The Razer Switchblade will ship with four games installed. Tencent, China's largest online game provider and operator of the country's most popular instant-messaging client, QQ, will supply the games. They may be offered in other markets when the Razer Switchblade goes on sale elsewhere, Tan said.

In developing the Razer Switchblade, the company also partnered with Intel, which wants to promote its low-power Atom processor chips. Intel has been involved in optimizing the device, and will help market the product for its eventual launch, said Brad Graff, an Intel director of marketing.

Razer provided no launch date for the device, saying only that more announcements will come soon over the course of the year. The device will be "affordable," Tan said.

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Michael Kan

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