The Razer Project Valerie prototype is a laptop with not one, not two, but three 17-inch displays. It can run Battlefield 1 at 12K resolution with perfectly smooth frame rates. There’s no price or release date, as this is far from becoming a real product, but if Razer finds enough demand from users, the company promises to build this crazy concoction for real.
I played on it, so let me tell you what that’s like.
Razer has set brought two Project Valerie examples to CES: one that works and demonstrates the full performance but isn’t particularly refined in its cosmetics, and another that has the looks down but can’t be played. As such, it makes it tough to judge the final product, should there ever be one. The functional prototype has the side screens slightly ahead of the main one, whereas they should ideally sit flush with one another, either on a level plane or with the side screens titled in for a surround view effect.
Even with the foregoing provisos, I got a good sense of what the Valerie provides in terms of added advantage over the "regular" 17-inch Razer Blade Pro (the laptop that this prototype is based on). When people were shooting at me in Battlefield, I could reference a side screen to more accurately locate the source of the gunfire. And when I had some downtime in the game, I could admire the vistas surrounding me — I could imagine a slower-paced game like any of the Mass Effect series would really benefit from this extra opportunity to admire the scenery. It surely adds to the sense of immersion if you have the time to gawk.
In a fast-paced game such as a first-person shooter, however, I find my focus is fixed firmly on the middle of the screen. Which in the case would be the middle of the middle screen, in fact. That renders the side screens almost completely irrelevant, and I almost had to force myself to look at them during moments of action in Battlefield. That’s not a super promising first taste for something that would likely cost a ridiculous amount of money, but it’s very obviously a luxury. Your gaming experience and performance are not going to dramatically improve with a three-screened laptop.
Like VR, I feel like the Razer Project Valerie is wrongly targeted at gamers. This sort of setup has better potential to prove compelling to people who need to juggle a whole ton of data and visuals on screen at the same time. Laugh if you will, but this would be a killer solution for mastering all your Excel spreadsheet. Multitaskers would also rejoice about having the space for all their chat and social media channels on the side, along with a browser window or two, and then still having a spare screen to game on, should they still yearn for it.
We come to CES to soak up the tech world’s visions for the future, and this is surely one of the zaniest and most outlandish ones. I remain unsure whether Razer is serious about this or just looking to attract the biggest CES hype. But yes, Project Valerie is certainly something different.
My main takeaway from playing Battlefield on the crazy concept Razer built on top of the Razer Blade Pro? I now really want to play Battlefield on the original, single-screen Blade Pro. That laptop is enough of a gaming beast to satisfy all of my mobile needs.