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Alienware UFO: Meet Dell’s Mobile PC Gaming Project

Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console system proves that there’s a market for handheld consoles. If there’s also one thing mobile games could tell us, it’s that people like playing on the go. Guided by these two ideas, Dell’s gaming line Alienware is working on making a mobile PC device. Dubbed as the Alienware UFO, it suspiciously looks like an extraterrestrial Nintendo Switch, but they’re totally not ripping Nintendo off.

PC Gaming Anywhere You Go

Desktop PCs have one issue that even PC Master Race fanatics couldn’t argue against: portability. A powerful desktop PC may run all the latest games at maximum specs, but you can’t take it out with you outside. The solution to this has always been the laptop: a portable computer that compensates power for portability.

Manufacturers don’t usually build these laptops for gaming, though. Usually, laptops are bought by people who want to work anywhere they are. If you want a gaming laptop, you’d usually end up with bulky devices that will break your spine when brought around in a backpack. Not exactly portable.

With the success of the Nintendo Switch, Dell caught themselves thinking: what if you replace the tablet of the Switch with a touchscreen laptop monitor?

Touchscreen laptop monitors have grown in terms of popularity recently. We have convertible-type laptops that could double as tablets when you take it away from the keyboard, so it’s not a foreign concept.

But turning that touchscreen monitor into a tablet that could run Windows 10? That’s the Alienware UFO for you.

Proof of Concept

Alienware Concept UFO (Courtesy of Engadget)

However, PC gamers shouldn’t rush into buying the Alienware UFO. Firstly, you can’t yet. The product is a proof of concept, which is only meant to display the limits of today’s technology. They’re showing it off right now at the CES 2020 in Las Vegas, telling people that Alienware might release something like this in the near future.

But being a proof of concept doesn’t mean the product isn’t functional. In fact, the unit Dell showed off could already run games pretty well at 60FPS. Although the screen resolution is locked at 1200p, the 8″ display already shows a crisp picture. The touchscreen tablet is flanked by two controllers that work the same way as Nintendo’s Joy-cons. When detached, these controllers could also be attached to a grip to simulate a regular controller. With the controllers detached, you could prop the tablet with a stand the same way you could prop the Switch for tabletop mode. At around 1 kilogram in weight, the Alienware UFO is as close as you could get right now to play PC games on the go.

It’s Not The Switch

With all the comparisons with Nintendo’s best-selling system, it’s important to be clear with the distinctions between the two devices.

Firstly with the OS: The Alienware UFO doesn’t run on any special software to fully utilize its design. It runs on Windows 10 OS. Using it feels like using a tablet convertible laptop with two awkwardly placed controllers at the sides.

The controllers, no matter how similar they look, feel vastly apart. Business Insider notes that playing on the Alienware UFO feels so different from the Nintendo Switch, and in the video embedded above, Engadget notes how they wouldn’t want to play games for a long time with those controllers.

Just like the Switch, the Alienware UFO could be docked and connected to a monitor.

The size difference is also massive. The Alienware UFO’s 8-inch display and 1kg weight dwarf the Switch’s 6.20-inch screen and weighs less than a third of that. UFO benefits from the larger screen by being able to display at 1900×1200 resolution, a huge improvement over the 1280×720 screen the Switch is capable of.

The Alienware UFO runs on a 10th-gen processor, but apart from that, Dell hasn’t been keen on sharing any more details regarding the hardware’s technical specifications.

If ever Dell pushes through with this concept, they’ll have to be wary in pricing the device. Pricing it too high might push the gaming-on-the-go market away from you, especially since the Switch Pro is in likeliness releasing soon.

Regardless, both Dell and Nintendo know that the future of gaming shouldn’t be constrained into just one location. Their fantastic designs show proof that gaming-on-the-go is the future of the industry. We’ll see who else in the industry will take notice and boldly release designs of their own handheld systems. But for now, let’s spend the time appreciating both the Switch and the UFO.