Alienware brought its concept for a new type of gaming PC to CES 2020 today, and it looks an awful lot like a Nintendo Switch.
The device, called Concept UFO, is a portable device with two controllers, similar to Nintendo’s Joy-Cons. Alienware and its parent company, Dell, aren’t committing to a specific release date, specifications, pricing or even that it will ever hit the market. But it’s far enough that we got to take a look.
Update: AMD's chief architect of gaming solutions, Frank Azor, wrote on Twitter that the UFO runs on Ryzen. It's unclear if it's an embedded chip or something else.
Update 2: But at Dell's own press conference, Viven Lee, vice president of Alienware and Dell Gaming, said it uses the latest 10th Gen Intel processors.
Update 3: Dell has confirmed to Tom's Hardware that UFO is running exclusively on Intel 10th Gen (it wouldn't confirm which specific chips, though we presume the upcoming H-series). Azor has clarified on Twitter that he was asking if people would want to see it powered by Ryzen.
Who wants to see this beauty powered by an @AMDRyzen? Now you're getting it :) https://t.co/uObCgsbSitJanuary 6, 2020
As it stands, Concept UFO has an 8-inch screen, which is notably larger than the 6.2-inch screen on the Switch. The controllers can detach from the side and be used as a full controller when attached to a separate “bridge” device. They can’t, however, be used without the bridge, as Windows 10 would recognize the two halves as separate controllers, which wouldn’t work for most games.
The control sticks are tall, which is good for precision, and most of the buttons are nice and clicky, though I found the triggers to be shallow. But the whole thing feels large and more clunky than existing handhelds.
The big trick, of course, is that this is a portable for PC gamers. Alienware’s software rounds up all of your games from various launches like Steam, Origin and Epic Games so that you can launch them all from the same place.
You can also connect it to a monitor for big-screen gaming, but there is also a sizable kickstand on the back (far more substantial than what’s on the Switch) should you want to play on a table.
Alienware wouldn’t talk specs at all, but whatever was powering this thing played games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Rocket League smoothly (it didn’t specify what settings the games were using).
I do have some questions about how this would work practically. It would be fine at home, where I have Wi-Fi connectivity. But I couldn’t see playing this on my commute, where games would try to connect to verify I have legitimate games and I’d be forced to play in limited offline modes.
Additionally, gaming laptops are known for poor battery life, so it’s possible this won’t be much better. After all, how much of a battery can you fit in a handheld? Could this be the type of device one streams game to?
But having tried this and the Smach Z, the Concept UFO seems more refined. But we’ll have to see what happens once Alienware announces pricing, specs and if it will ever come out.