Can Dell's Alienware Concept UFO be the portable gaming PC we've always dreamed of?

As well as a plethora of conventional laptops and one or two folding concepts, Dell unveiled a prototype design for a portable gaming PC during CES 2020.

The Alienware Concept UFO is effectively a PC-based Nintendo Switch, with an 8-inch HD screen (1900 x 1200) and detachable controllers on the sides – a la Joy-Cons.

Like the Switch, it too features a kickstand on the rear so you can set it up anywhere to play single or multiplayer games, or stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or any other TV show or movie service.

Introducing #ConceptUFO, our vision for a handheld gaming PC. Explore the details that went into making this innovative design. @Formula1game

— ALIENWARE (@Alienware) January 7, 2020

And, as a Windows 10 PC, it can access your Steam, Epic Games, Rockstar or other digital stores in order to play any games in your library (or to purchase others). In short, it’s everything we’ve ever wanted from a portable gaming PC.

There are caveats, however, that make us wonder if we’ll ever get to see one make it into stores.

For a start, this is just a concept model. Dell has plans to develop it, but we won’t necessarily see it become available for purchase anytime soon: “Our goal is to create a gaming PC worthy of the Alienware brand, in a handheld form factor that gamers could use to play their favorite AAA PC titles, wherever they are,” the company says in a blog post.

But, in reality, there are a fair few hurdles to navigate first.

Heat is one. Dell claims it uses a 10th Gen Intel Core processor inside the prototype, which is great for helping run the latest games, but isn’t necessarily designed to be confined to such a small space – and one that you are expected to fondle so closely.

Also, there is no mention of the graphics processing, which will need to be of a hefty standard to run modern games well. And, if you’ve ever built a gaming PC or used a decent gaming laptop, you’ll know that heat dissipation is the enemy there too.

Dell could opt for a mobile processor instead, such as the AMD Ryzen 4000, also announced this CES, but there will be some compromises in performance. Maybe that won’t matter though, considering the trade-off for portability.

Our other main concern is price. Dell hasn’t said a peep about affordability during the Vegas trade show and there’s probably a good reason why. For the spec suggested, plus the economics of making a technically niche product (rather than a very mass market games console), we’d expect the Concept UFO to be in the £700 to £1,000 ball park.

Some will be happy to pay that, we’re sure. In fact, we might even. But, it would hardly rival what we have at the minute, with the truly excellent Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite at around £280 and £200 marks respectively.

The prospective price also highlights a question we have on games compatibility. Considering that many of our favourite PC games don’t work well with joypad controls, will the Alienware Concept UFO be restricted to playing those that do? And, if its price is indeed two-to-three times as much as a Switch, why not buy Nintendo’s machine as it can play a vast selection of those games too?

Perhaps we’re just playing devil’s advocate here, as our first impression on seeing the UFO was “oooooo…”.

It ticks all the boxes of a device wishlist we’ve been harbouring for years. We’ve even seen some unsuitable portable PC devices come and go in the past – mainly because they were underspecced and, therefore, unable to play any titles we genuinely care about.

We just urge caution as sometimes the stuff of dreams sadly ends up remaining just that.

Original Article