Razer Blade Pro (2012) review

Razer's signature gaming laptop has been redesigned for more power with no loss of portability

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Razer Blade review

It is finally time to discuss the Razer Blade Pro's fancy, newfangled touchpad, dubbed the Switchblade User Interface. In short, the Switchblade is amazing, innovative, and remarkable. In a lot of ways, it's kind of like having a touchscreen phone embedded onto your laptop.

The Switchblade UI is comprised of a multi-touch track panel that is also a 4-inch, 800 x 480 LCD screen, ten backlit soft keys that Razer calls Dynamic Adaptive Tactile Keys, and the Synapse software utility that allows you to customize and program the UI for games, general usage, and more.

The Synapse utility requires a log-in to use, but in exchange it stores all your settings, add-ons, and customizations online for you, including mouse sensitivity, keyboard lightning, key bindings, and more so that if you ever upgrade to a new system or Synapse-compatible keyboard, you'll be able to take all your settings with you.

Some of the ways you can use the 10 keys above the touchpad include:

  • A numeric pad
  • A gaming mode that locks out the Windows key and Alt-Tab
  • The ability to launch a web browser in the display in order to search for cheats, tips, or anything else
  • YouTube - you can watch a game walkthrough without having to leave the game
  • A clock
  • Game timer that allows you to create countdown timers
  • Facebook, of course
  • Twitter
  • One-press screen capture utility
  • Macro recorder for capturing game actions
  • Gmail

The Switchblade UI also comes with some game-specific applications and settings for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike.

The Switchblade UI and Dynamic Adaptive Tactile Keys automatically update when you play games that have pre-loaded settings, like the above. With these games, you'll have a bunch of actions available at the press of a button.

As an example, in Battlefield, you can use the touchpad to quick-switch between weapons and use context-sensitive controls. In SWTOR, you can access all sorts of data on the second display.

Over time, we should see support for more and more games. The rub is that because this is such a unique feature, we may never see a high volume of game customizations for the Switchblade UI. (Razer also makes a DeathStalker keyboard as well as a SWTOR plank that both feature a second screen.)

If you want to take full advantage of this next-generation touchpad, you're going to have to spend some time learning how to fully customize the soft keys to function in the manner you like using the Synapse software utility. It's not the quickest procedure, but assigning functions and mapping macros to the keys is fairly straightforward.

You can even access a library of images that you can assign to these custom in-game functions.

Finally, you can also customize the touchpad wallpaper with whatever image you'd like.