CES 2018: Razer’s Project Linda, HyperFlux, and Nommo makes a splash

I  have a wild personal theory that I only share occasionally when someone mentions Razer in my presence – that Min-Liang Tang is secretly a supervillian with an underground bunker lair, using proceeds from Razer’s success to finance world domination. How else does anyone explain the crazy things this company gets up to every year. Three-screened laptops? Compartmentalised computer components with a socket system for water cooling? Mobile phones? RGB mousepads? Razer frequently just does the first thing that comes to mind, and only half the time they come up with something that would never work.

The company arguably stole the show at CES 2018, announcing some very interesting products and even picking up a new partner for their Chroma line of RGB peripherals, adding the Philips Hue lighting kit to their collection. The only thing they haven’t announced yet is an RGB desk and chair, and I’m sure even that’s not a far-fetched idea for them.

Project Linda

Project Linda was a secret top-level product being worked on behind the scenes at Razer while they were focusing on getting their first mobile phone out the door and selling to the public (in case you forgot, the Razer Phone exists and is awesome). It’s a dock for your phone that turns it into an Android-powered laptop without any messy buttons, clips, sliding rails, or any hint of a USB cable anywhere. You place the Razer Phone into the tray where the trackpad would be, and it becomes the interface for the ultrabook, as well as a second display for multi-tasking or controlling your games that take advantage of it.

The dock isn’t really a laptop because it’s essentially a dumb shell with no computing power of its own. It is an aluminium clamshell painted in black, weighing less than 1.2kg and including a 4000mAh battery, 200GB of eMMC storage space, a quad HD IPS display, and a full backlit keyboard. Yes, the keyboard is fully RGB. How did you know?

In addition, there is one USB 3.0 Type-C port for charging, one USB 3.0 Type-A port for connecting devices, and a 3.5mm combined audio jack. At the top of the display, a 720p camera offers basic support for videocalling apps like Skype and Google Hangouts. The absolute coolest thing about this is that the phone is held in place by a muscle wire lock. Pressing the power button on the keybord extends the USB connector and fits into the phone’s port, securely docking it. Unlocking it is done by using the fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone. There aren’t any speakers on the dock, but that’s for good reason – Razer just uses the two front-firing speakers on the phone.

Project Linda for the moment is not going to be for sale, and Razer has only produced a handful of prototypes. But I really, really want one.

Nommo desktop speakers

If you didn’t have enough RGB-lit things on your desk, Razer kindly asks you to make space for two more: a pair of RGB speakers. The Nommo speaker system is a two-channel stereo speaker system that hooks up to your computer through a 3.5mm audio jack, and has a price tag of $99.99. That’s the bare-bones offering, though. For an extra $50, you can add RGB Chroma lighting and a USB connection to its bag of tricks, although $150 for RGB speakers is a bit much for me.

There’s also the Nomma Pro, which is a 2.1 speaker system with a down-firing speaker and an additional two 0.8-inch tweeters to fill in the gaps for high notes, in addition to an optical audio port, Bluetooth 4.2 compatibility, and a jog dual for controlling the volume. That’ll set you back $499.99.

Like everything else Razer makes, the Nommo Pro is managed by the Synapse drivers, where you can customise the lighting, change the audio profile, and tweak things like the equaliser or stream to your speakers from the Nommo mobile app on Android or iOS. The Nommo Pro was designed in partnership with THX, the sound studio started by George Lucas, so the audio at least is going to be very good.

Mamba HyperFlux Mouse and Mat

You remember Logitech’s Lightspeed charging solution for wireless mouses? Well, Razer has one of their own design, using the same Wireless Qi standard (as it happens, ASUS also has one – more on that later). This is meant to be sold as a bundle, because the Mamba HyperFlux can’t really be used without the mat properly.

The idea is that the HyperFlux mat provides enough charge for the mouse to continue to be operational, but does away with the battery entirely. The mouse only has between 5-10 seconds of actual battery life, because a supercapacitor holds the necessary charge to keep it functional, and so long as it is within the magnetic field of the charging coil it will not power down. It’s more of a cost-saving initiative than anything else, because why would you need a battery for a mouse that won’t move from its mat? You can still plug in a USB cable to the Mamba HyperFlux if you’re traveling with it, and it becomes a regular USB mouse that’s really lightweight.

The only stumbling block here is the price. At $249.99, it is about $100 less expensive than Logitech’s G903 Lightspeed with the charging mat together, but it’s a lot of money to spend on a peripheral that may have limited use.

Razer Chroma and Philips Hue Lighting

You may have seen those Philips Hue lights on the shelf at the hardware store and wondered if you could use them for mood lighting for gaming. That’s exactly what a lot of people have done in their gaming dens, using the Hue’s RGB capabilities to set the mood for particular games. But it’s not adaptive like some other systems that exist today (NZXT’s Hue system comes to mind), so you always have to make manual adjustments on your smartphone.

It came as a surprise, then, that Razer and Philips worked together to get the Hue API into Razer Synapse, allowing it to sync up with all the other Chroma-capable RGB things you have on your desk already. It’s a collaboration that makes sense now that I think about it, because the only thing limiting the extensibility of the RGB controls from Razer, ASUS, Gigabyte, and others is integration with the API and controller updates.

Razer hasn’t announced when this feature is coming to Synapse 3, but it should be out fairly soon, and you’ll be able to pair up Hue bulbs to your wireless network and control them remotely. It’ll work with existing in-game mood lighting APIs, and you could set up some pretty click setups with this. Just be advised that RGB-ing everything is both addictive and insanely expensive.

I can’t wait for the Hue Hue Hue memes with 256 extra colours.

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