Last week at CES, Razer unveiled its most recent prototype, a three-screen laptop. As we discussed, this has become something of a CES tradition for the peripheral manufacturer, so we weren’t surprised to see the company showing off an unusual piece of kit. What was unusual was that someone walked off with both laptop prototypes at some point towards the end of the show. Razer has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the laptops, but we haven’t seen any public announcements about a culprit since. Now, it seems that whoever walked off with the laptops is trying to unload them.
Laptops
There is no possible way this could go wrong.
Geek.com reports that the laptops have been listed on the Chinese website Taobao, where the thief is offering the laptops for the not-at-all crazy price of $21,733. It’s not clear what Razer can do from here — presumably Taobao has its own terms of service prohibiting the sale of stolen goods, and we doubt the e-commerce company wants any part of a comparatively high-profile theft. If you need a laptop with support for multiple displays, there are small portable displays designed to run over USB3 or that use existing standards like HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort. These panels tend to be small and they don’t offer 4K (1366×768 or 1920×1080 are common resolutions), but they also don’t cost five figures. As an added bonus, you can carry them around without worrying that someone will notice you’re carrying one of two prototype laptops stolen from a major trade show that you probably didn’t get from an authorized source.
Razer hasn’t said yet if it will commercialize Project Valerie. But between the initial unveil and the thefts, the company has gotten more than enough press to determine whether there’s demand for the concept. The idea isn’t trivial — a triple-screen laptop will, by necessity, be significantly heavier and more power-hungry than a standard design. That will limit the platform to certain markets, though it’s possible that Razer could further modify the idea by making the screens detachable, or allowing the user to power certain displays at certain times without compromising the laptop design.
There are also some practical design elements to consider — how much wear and tear can the screen extension and retraction mechanism take, and what are the damage pitfalls associated with having a laptop that much wider than an ordinary system? These are the kinds of small issues that can collectively turn a product from a must-have into a flawed take on a good idea. Razer will need to figure them out before deciding if a workstation-class triple system is worth the cost to bring it to market.