Every CES we get some weird stuff, some interesting products…and always a small handful of unique but likely never-to-see-the-light-of-day toys. Our good friends at Dell Alienware produced a ‘Concept UFO’ which is likely one of those. It’s a handheld gaming PC that looks more like a Nintendo Switch, except that it plays Witcher 3.
Similarities to the Switch aren’t just in the visual look…aside from the bigger 8-inch display, nearly everything about the UFO is just like the Switch, which I haven’t picked up off my shelf since I beat Breath of the Wild: the controllers snap on, it features dual analog sticks, and without the controllers, it’s effectively a small tablet. The controllers snap back together with an added piece to form a standard controller. Which is especially useful so you can plug the UFO into a dock that connects to your TV.
Oh, and also like the Switch, there’s a performance boost when you connect to a TV because of increased power usage. Engadget’s Devindra Hardawar played around with it, noting that on F1 Racing, playing directly on the UFO, the framerate was definitely over 30FPS, but it didn’t reach 60, though World War Z was pretty close. The other major note: because of the larger size and weight, it’s not as comfortable to use in handheld-mode.
Dell’s been completely mum on the components, which comes as no surprise. Running Windows 10, even with plenty of optimizations you’d need some serious computing power in a tiny package, especially with limited room for cooling apparatus, to play the typical PC game.
As a concept, the idea is very cool. I’d personally love to see something like this (or even smaller, like the size of the Switch) that connects to Steam and is powerful enough to play the typical arcade-style game. Think Binding of Isaac, FTL, Ori and the Blind Forest, etc. There are so many great arcade-style games that require minimal GPU performance that could run on a handheld device. And when you get off that train/plane/whatever and get home, if you want to keep playing, plug in to the TV to finish up. Or resume on your monster rig.