Wait — is that a new model of Nintendo Switch?
Nope. Despite the physical similarities, this is not a Nintendo product. Instead, it is an Alienware concept product known as the Concept UFO. Some think this is going to transform the way we game. Others think this unveiling was nothing more than a PR scam.
So, is the Concept UFO a gimmick that may never see the light of day? Or is this the revolution in PC gaming everyone has been waiting for? We’ve got the full scoop below.
Dell showed a good sense of timing when unveiling this concept machine. They busted it out during the CES 2020 show held in Las Vegas in January.
The Consumer Electronics Show is not limited to video games, of course. However, this event typically brings a few buzzworthy gaming announcements each year. And Dell’s concept machine was possibly the biggest announcement.
They made waves in Las Vegas and beyond with this product. And just one look at it is enough to get many gamers drooling. But what, exactly, is this thing?
What Is the UFO?
Dell is calling this machine the Concept UFO. As the “concept” part implies, this is not yet a commercial product. Instead, it is a concept for a future line of Alienware products.
It borrows design elements pretty heavily from Nintendo (more on this in a minute). In short, it is designed as a portable machine with an 8-inch screen and detachable, Joy-Con-esque controllers.
Despite looking so much like a gaming console, though, this concept product is a fully-functioning Windows 10 PC.
More Than Just a Game Machine
Gaming consoles are something of a paradox. On one hand, each new generation of consoles becomes more and more like PCs. However, these consoles are very limited. Aside from games and a limited selection of apps, there is nothing more you can do with your favorite consoles.
This Alienware Concept UFO may look like the Nintendo Switch, but it’s still a portable computer. And that offers future consumers a world of possibilities.
First of all, this is a great way to enjoy powerful PC games on the go. While Google Stadia and other products try to make streaming games happen, the stream is only as strong as your internet connection. With the UFO, you’d have the full power of the PC even in areas with no internet connection.
Second, you can obviously do more than game on a portable computer. Nothing keeps users from connecting a mouse and keyboard and treating the UFO like a laptop. From banging out a college essay to submitting a job application, the sky is the limit with this device. Especially once you connect this small device to a monitor or TV and take advantage of a bigger screen.
Needless to say, the entire design of the Concept UFO is Switch-inspired. However, Dell has made a few improvements to Nintendo’s design that hardcore gamers may appreciate.
For example, you can take the controllers off of the side and join them together into a more traditional controller design. On the Switch, you are simply connecting the Joy-Cons to a piece of plastic. With the UFO, you are connecting the smaller controllers to something with built-in batteries and Bluetooth.
So, while Nintendo definitely beat Dell to the punch with this kind of design, this concept Alienware machine may end up as the superior experience.
Many Controller Options
The Concept UFO’s design obviously favors some games more than others. While it would be easy to play fighters or shooters with this machine, the initial design looks like it would be difficult to play an RTS or an MMORPG.
As we noted, though, you have a lot of input options with this machine. By hooking a keyboard or a mouse up, you can play anything on the UFO that you enjoy on your desktop. And innovations such as the Steam Controller have shown us that with a bit of patience and setup, you can play almost anything via a controller.
The Alienware Brand
Alienware occupies a unique place in the PC gaming ecosystem. On one hand, it caters exclusively to PC gamers — the kind of crowd who prides itself on enjoying complex PC games rather than simple console games. On the other hand, many hardcore PC gamers also pride themselves on building their own rigs.
Alienware, then, is for that niche audience: the PC gamers who cannot or will not build their own PC. Alienware offers a variety of gaming solutions that work right out of the box. With things like the Alienware Alpha, the company has previously presented itself as an easy and affordable alternative to consoles.
If the concept UFO ever sees the light of day, it looks like it is another way for Alienware to lure people away from consoles and into PC gaming.
The Bridge Between Casual and Hardcore
While the rivalry is mostly friendly, console gamers and PC gamers often clash with each other online. The general consensus is that PC gaming is richer and more complex than console gaming. This is why so many PC gamers have labeled themselves with the problematic nickname “The PC Master Race.”
And PC gamers have a new icon in the form of Henry Cavill. When The Witcher star was asked if he preferred Xbox or PlayStation, he derisively answered “PC!”
With the UFO, Dell wants to create a bridge between casual gaming and hardcore gaming. Players can enjoy those rich and complex PC games without having to pay a ton of money for a fancy desktop rig. That’s great news for us non-Witchers that nobody ever tosses their coins to!
No Release Date… Yet
If you’re interested in the Concept UFO, you probably have 2 questions: how much does it cost and when is it coming out? Sadly, we don’t know the answer to either of those.
Because this is a concept product, it may never be released. And at this point, there is no way of knowing what the final price tag will be. It seems like Dell showed off the concept to gauge consumer interest.
The good news? This thing has generated enough hype to let Dell know gamers seriously want the UFO. Move over, Switch: this is the real future of portable gaming!