Razer's 17.3" gaming notebook on track for December release

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Unveiled in August, Razer's gaming laptop is reportedly in the home stretch of production and should be available before Christmas. In fact, according to Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, a handful of privileged insiders have already received their systems. Preorders of the Blade are expected to open on the Razer Zone website in the next few days and orders will be shipped before Santa squeezes down your chimney.

Billed as the first "true" gaming notebook, the Blade is inspired by Ka-Bar's combat knife and offers some solid specs for sub-inch-thick laptop. Its hardware remains largely unchanged from August, including a 17.3-inch 1080p display, a 2.8GHz Core i7, 8GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GT 555M with 2GB of VRAM and Optimus, an HD webcam, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, and Bluetooth 3.0.

Interestingly, the company has managed to upgrade the system's storage without charging more. As the story goes, before the Blade was announced, Razer had to offer component suppliers a premium to get them onboard because they didn't have much confidence in the system. However, they were "floored" with the community's response in August, allowing Razer to renegotiate its component pricing.

The company used those savings to upgrade the 320GB HDD to a 256GB SSD. We wouldn't be surprised if the recent spike in hard drive prices also played a factor in the shift to flash storage, but that's hearsay. Regardless, the change should make it a little easier to swallow the Blade's $2,800 asking price if you already planned to purchase one, and it could sway a few people teetering on the fence about it.

Besides cramming more horsepower into less space, Razer's gaming notebook offers a unique interface. The "Switchblade UI" (presumably borrowed from the Switchblade prototype) is adjacent to the standard keyboard and offers 10 customizable hotkeys above a multi-touch screen. The latter serves as a trackpad when you're on the go, but it can display handy in-game data if you're using an external mouse.

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