On Thursday, during an Ask Me Anything session on Alienware Arena, General Manager Frank Azor hinted that the company may be working on a gaming handheld/tablet. More specifically, he said that there's a good chance the device is in development, but the company is not ready to announce anything at this time. We expect to hear more during E3 2015 this June.
"Nothing to announce about a new tablet yet but it's a space we are looking at and have been for a while now," he said.
As for the current Alienware Alpha "console," Azor said that the company is happy with the sales numbers thus far. He didn't provide any specifics but instead said that Alienware is satisfied with the response the company has received from Alpha owners. He also provided insight into the company's hardware refresh schedule, reporting that it could be once a year or every two years, max.
"We want to stay on top of major performance improvements, so when we see big leaps in gaming performance capabilities from our partners, we will introduce a new version of Alpha," he said.
Azor also hinted that Alienware will soon make an official announcement regarding the Steam Machine version of its Alpha console. Naturally, this will come bundled with Valve's Steam Controller that, according to previous reports, has "gone gold," meaning partners such as Alienware are likely gearing up for a big reveal at this year's Game Developers Conference in March.
"We are not planning on offering a Steam OS/Windows Dual-Boot solution at this time. However, nothing prevents customers from doing this on their own if they'd like," Azor said. "The challenge comes in delivering that experience with a gamepad solely and not requiring a keyboard and mouse."
In addition to the AMA session, Alienware has knocked $50 off the base price of the Alpha console, which now starts at $499. The base model includes a fourth-generation Intel Core i3 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU (with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory), Windows 8.1 and 4 GB of RAM. The company also offers three other meaty configurations costing $649.99, $749.99 and $849.99.
Will the Steam Machine initiative make a dent in the living room? Probably not when gamers can purchase something like the Assassin's Creed Xbox One bundle for $349.99. Steam Machines are meant to be open platforms, allowing customers to upgrade the components when needed. However, as Valve has already noticed with the Steam Controller, change can be rather difficult to accomplish.
Still, Azor indicated that Alienware has experienced a nice flow of revenue with the Alpha console, so perhaps living room gamers are indeed ready for something different. Hopefully, we'll see what change is all about at the Game Developers Conference in March.
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Currently Dell already has their own high end tablets.
So it would make sense to add a much more beefed up version of the tablet
under the alienware branding.
I only hope it doesn't tank, as I think the Alpha is most exciting for what the next model will hold, as mobile processors (particular Nvidia ones) are coming ahead leaps and bounds. Either that or I'd be interested to see an AMD-based model, as a decent AMD APU (for the co-processor possibilities) plus a good Radeon chip could actually be a great combination if developers finally start to add HSA code (since the Xbox One and PS4 should both be capable of using it).
My main gripe with the Alpha is that it seems like they could easily have made the GPU upgradeable as well; even if the boards were purely proprietary, it would prevent the Alpha being stuck on the 320m. Not that it's a bad chip, for the size and thermals it's actually pretty damned good, but there's no sense putting an i5 or i7 into an Alpha when the graphics are the most limiting part.
Am I alone on that front? Doubt it...but I am sure there is someone out there that is saying "OMFG - a gaming tablet...my life is complete!" I thought those people would have picked up Razer's gaming tablet if there was really a market for those but what do I know