In person, the Blade Pro is nigh indistinguishable from its predecessor. The 14-inch version, however, aside from appearing like a shrunken version of the bigger Blade when closed, actually has a few distinct differences. First off, the power button's much smaller than the Pro's, though it is still centered above the keyboard. Next, the 14-incher borrows its speaker design from the MacBook Pro, as its noisemakers are situated on either side of the keyboard instead of being centered beneath the screen. It also lacks an Ethernet port, though it has a trio of USB 3.0 ports and a single HDMI 1.4 socket like the Pro.
It turns out, Razer was able to shrink down the Blade to 14 inches and make it a scant 0.66 inches thick because it designed it twice. That's right folks, the original plan was to out the smaller Blade with the second generation version, but CEO Min-Liang Tan wasn't happy with how thick that first 14-incher wound up. So, the design team at Razer scrapped it and started over -- leveraging the lessons learned from the first go-round to make the necessary improvements.
In our brief time using it, we found that it's a stoutly built machine. There is a teeny bit of flex if you press on the lid, but the keyboard deck is as solid as can be. Furthermore, we found the trackpad to be hyper accurate both with single-finger movements and taps -- among the best we've ever used on a Windows machine. That's not some accidental happenstance, either. Razer put a custom microcontroller and firmware in the Blade to intercept every signal coming from the Synaptics pad and ensure that it's good enough to game on. The buttons just beneath that pad, however, were a bit squishy and less precise than we would have liked them to be.
Because of the identical form factor to the Blade 2.0, there's not much new to talk about with respect to the Blade Pro's hardware. However, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan did reveal that a few new productivity apps are coming to its Switchblade UI. That's right folks, Adobe Premiere and Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk Maya and a viewer for the Unreal Engine UDK will all be getting apps built for the Switchblade UI -- and you can get a glimpse of how they work in the video above.