At CES 2020, Alienware unveiled Concept UFO, a concept design for a Nintendo Switch-like handheld PC gaming device. Alienware is a well-known producer of gaming-ready PCs and particularly powerful gaming laptops.
The company’s powerful, ready-to-go products come with ease of use, allowing customers to bypass the traditional PC-building process, but that ease of use comes at a cost. Alienware products are notoriously expensive. The company’s current most powerful gaming laptop, the Alienware Area 51-M – which might also be the most powerful gaming laptop, period – can cost more than $4,000, depending on the buyer’s chosen parts configuration. Still, while some would consider buying a pre-built desktop PC a waste of money, building a gaming laptop is a more difficult and complicated task, explaining the high price of Alienware’s portable models.
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Concept UFO would take that ease of use and portability even further, allowing for PC gaming in the style of the Nintendo Switch. The Alienware device is currently just a concept, but the company brought a working prototype to CES 2020. According to Game Informer, the Concept UFO prototype weighs about two pounds, has an eight-inch, 1200p screen, and runs Windows 10, but Alienware would not give specifics about hardware specs or whether the concept will eventually become a for-sale product. From a surface-level perspective, the device is clearly inspired by the Switch, with Joy-Con-like detachable controllers, a kickstand, and the ability to be docked for TV play.
Before the Nintendo Switch, another well-known gaming hardware manufacturer attempted to make handheld gaming hardcore. Nvidia announced the Android-based Shield console in 2015, later releasing the Shield Tablet in an attempt to make the Android-based console portable. Nvidia’s entry into the console market has largely been forgotten in 2020, most likely because of its reliance on the Android operating system, which hasn’t seen much success in the hardcore gaming space. What could potentially make the Concept UFO different is its use of Windows 10. In theory, this could allow users to play countless PC titles via Steam, Origin, the Epic Games Store, and other game launchers. There’s even the possibility of playing dozens of titles through services like Xbox Game Pass PC, further expanding the UFO’s library.
The UFO’s Windows operating system could make it a true “Switch killer,” but there’s one major barrier the company would have to overcome: price. If Concept UFO is anything like Alienware’s other portable PCs, it could potentially cost buyers multiple thousands of dollars, while the Switch retails for just $300. Even if Alienware targets a more niche, hardcore market, that price difference would likely keep the UFO from gaining anywhere close to the Nintendo Switch’s sales numbers and popularity. If Alienware wants to kill the Switch with Concept UFO, it will need to carefully walk the line between power and price.
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Concept UFO has no release date or retail price currently announced.
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