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Remember how Razer was teasing a product dubbed "Project Fiona" last week? Today at CES the mystery ended. Fiona is a gaming tablet slated for release by the end of 2012.
The interesting thing about Project Fiona is the interface. In addition to a multi-touch display, it has two analog sticks on either side of the 10-inch screen. They're hoping Fiona will endear itself to gamers who haven't been won over by touchscreen gaming.
"Other tablets force you to use touchscreens and accelerometers for gaming which is great for casual gaming but impossible for hardcore PC gaming," says Razer's website. "This constrains you to casual games that can be played with limited navigation and control capabilities. Adapted from a full featured PC gamepad, Project Fiona's integrated dual controllers coupled with its advanced multi-touch screen are designed to make complex game navigation ergonomic and intuitive without compromising on the portability of the tablet. You'll be able to carry out headshots and command troops in-game with ease."
"This first-of-its-kind PC gaming tablet with integrated dual controllers is definitely not for playing casual games about unhappy birds or zombie-killing flora."
The version on display at CES is described as a "concept device," so its exact hardware details might change by the time it hits stores. However, these are the current specs:
The joysticks seem promising, too. Mobile developers have gotten a lot of out of touchscreen interfaces but that control scheme has its limits. I found the touchscreen controls for Grand Theft Auto III to be really awkward. While some of that might be chalked up to Rockstar's specific use of the touchscreen, I think some of the awkwardness is just due to the inherent nature of the touchscreen. Certain controls are better or worse for certain types of games. For example, I wouldn't want to play a real-time strategy with a gamepad or a driving game with a mouse and keyboard. By presenting gamers with hybrid controls, Fiona may be suited to a wider range of games than, say, an iPad.
There are a couple big unknowns, though. We have no idea what kind of battery life to expect. Furthermore, what sort of price will it have? How do those joysticks feel? The premise of Fiona sounds strong but the specifics will determine its fate.