Gaming Hardware

What is Razer Project Linda and does anyone want a smartphone-powered laptop?

Razer Project Linda
Who needs a separate laptop when you can power one with your phone?

Remember the Motorola Atrix? Released in 2011, it was a laptop powered by your phone: you slotted the phone into the rear of a dumb laptop chassis, and could then use its computing power to act as the brain. Razer Project Linda uses the same basic concept, but there’s enough that’s different to intrigue us.

The first big difference is that the phone in question, the Razer Phone, sits snugly in a bay and turns into a virtual trackpad. A trackpad with a difference, of course, because it can also display its own image. If you’re in an RPG, for instance, that might become your inventory. Or the map.

It’s a nice idea, although dragging your finger along a glass screen offers more resistance than a normal trackpad. I’d only want to do so sparingly in practice.

The second big difference is that modern phones are powerhouses compared to phones of yesteryear, such as the Atrix. The Snapdragon 835 inside the Razer Phone is fast enough to run Windows; indeed, Lenovo announced its Miix 630 at this year’s CES that’s based on the 835 chip.

Razer Project Linda
Vainglory runs smoothly on the “laptop”, which is no surprise with so much power inside

That means manipulating 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 120Hz is no real challenge, and to prove it Razer let me play a session of Android RPG game Vainglory. Suffice to say it ran far more smoothly than the brief life of my chosen player.

A great big power bank

Razer has also delivered a much more attractive laptop chassis than Motorola managed. Reminiscent of the Stealth, it’s a trifle thicker to provide space for the phone, but is still only 15mm thick.

It isn’t too heavy either at 1.25kg, and in return you get a 53.6Wh battery – enough to recharge the Razer Phone three times over, Razer claims. There’s also 200GB of storage, plus a 720p webcam, USB port and USB-C charging port.

The real star, though, is the 13.3in screen, which appears to have all the quality hallmarks of Razer’s top-end laptops.

Using it in practice

Razer Project Linda
Transform a 5.5in screen into a 13in screen – what’s not to like?

Razer has created its own extended version of Android, with a dock at the bottom so you can quickly click through to Word, Excel and Photoshop Elements. Complete with touchscreen and mouse support, it works pretty well even at this stage, but trying to edit a photo on the laptop emphasised that this kind of project is only going to work if other developers get on board.

But let’s remember that Project Linda is very much a project. Razer’s staff were keen to point out that there’s no guarantee that it will see the light of day; indeed, they’re keen to get feedback from the public at this point. If you have comments, good or bad, please post them below.

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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