Dell Alienware UFO is a Nintendo Switch that runs on Windows 10: Quick Review

At CES 2020, Dell is showing a prototype under the code name ” Alienware UFO” – a portable 8-inch tablet with removable controllers, on which PC games can be played on the go. The perfect device for those who have always wanted to have a Nintendo Switch with Steam.

Dell Alienware UFO review
Dell Alienware UFO review

The CES is not only suitable for presenting marketable products, but also for presenting concepts. This year, Dell is showing three products that are still in the early stages of development to receive feedback and evaluate customer interest. It is still completely unclear whether these concepts will ever produce products ready for series production, but trying these prototypes is an opportunity that we did not want to miss.

Dell Alienware UFO Design

Because we do not have Nintendo Switch available for size comparison, but at the same time, the way Dell designed the device is also more stylish, more angular gaming gear, compared to the simplicity and cuteness of Nintendo Switch. Alienware UFO has a screen size of up to 8-inches. On the left side is the Nintendo Joy-like controller with a multidirectional, a 4-way joystick. On the right, the keyboard layout with 4 buttons arranged square X / Y / B / A, joystick with buttons to open some menu. Each integral control button key also has command buttons for the position of the index and fingers. Above the cluster is a volume up / down button, USB-C port, and 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the back, It has an L-shaped support bar that can be tilted to view on a flat surface, and the rear is a heat sink with an internal fan. And the heat of the device will blow to the upper edge. Such a screen support design makes it easier to use disassemble controls. The two sides are designed by Dell attached to a controller cluster, consolidating it into a gamepad like a console. The handles connect to the display assembly by magnet next to the appropriate mounting slot. The Alienware UFO docking accessory can help it export visual and audio content to an external monitor. Do not be surprised when the software of this device uses the operating system.

What is the Dell Alienware UFO handheld?

Of the three concepts at the booth, the Alienware handheld is probably the most exciting. Behind the code name UFO, Dell basically shows a Windows 10 PC in the casing of a Nintendo Switch. Even the removable “Joy-Con” is included, which automatically connects wirelessly to the tablet. The display can be mirrored via the USB-C connection.

There is a large base on the back to set up the device – similar to the Nintendo Switch. In contrast to Nintendo’s handheld, Dell uses a much larger and more stable base that can be set up at multiple angles. Although the device is larger and has an audibly louder fan than the Nintendo Switch, the prototype is lighter than it looks and thanks to the larger handles, the handheld is also more comfortable to hold.

What specifications are hidden in the UFO?

Since the handheld is still in development, Dell has not yet revealed any details about the technology. The size and weight will probably change until the final product. Based on our experience with the prototype, we can draw a few conclusions. The handheld was connected to a standard USB-C dock, which supplied 65 watts of power. According to one of the engineers, the current prototype does not use an Intel Core H CPU or a GeForce GPU.

Our best guess is that it is a high-end Intel Ice Lake chip or a Ryzen chip with an integrated Radeon RX Vega. For example, the latest Razer Blade Stealth with Ice Lake also comes with a 65-watt charger. The demo was shown with F1 2019. The game ran smoothly, but apparently with low graphics settings and visibly no anti-aliasing.

Why is Alienware working on a handheld?

Companies like Razer have already tried switch-like Android handheld, but with little success. However, Dell believes that there is a corresponding demand for a gaming handheld with Windows 10, at least according to its own market studies and focus group surveys. Such a product could appeal to hardcore gamers who do not want to be content with Nintendo or even Android games.

Does the Alienware handheld gaming PC make sense?

The million-dollar question and the reason why Dell is showing the prototype at CES 2020: Will customers like to buy a handheld PC as much as a Nintendo Switch?

In our opinion, the device would have to be sold at a price that is competitive compared to the Nintendo Switch, and would also be a bit more compact – because of the large display edges, it is much clunkier than necessary. The system is quite large for a handheld, and with the benefit of streaming services like Nvidia GeForce Now, Microsoft xCloud, PlayStation Remote Play, Steam Remote Play, and Google Stadia, a powerful PC handheld could soon no longer make sense.

After all, it is already possible to connect an Xbox controller to your smartphone and stream your entire Steam library. In addition, Alienware products are usually quite expensive at launch, which pushes the product even more into a niche. A powerful ultrabook in this form factor would certainly interest some customers.

Dell is still undecided whether a version of the UFO will ever go on sale. So now is the time to tell Dell if you’re interested, what features are missing, or if the project isn’t worth the time and resources.

About Ankeet Solanki

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