Distract yourself from the apocalypse with this article about a laptop with three screens

We’re only a few days in to the new year and I can’t help but feel it’s already been a massive disappointment. As a 13 year old, if you’d have asked me what an article about tech in 2017 would be about, I’d have probably said it would be a list of gadgets fit to kit out your new Mars home with or the pros and cons of the two leading brands of teleporter. The ‘Betamax versus VHS’ for the matter moving generation, of which I would obviously be a part.

But no, the pinnacle of human achievement thus far is this:

It’s a laptop. With three screens.

When I first saw this image, the simultaneous feelings of “it’s so funny it’s depressing” and just straight up, boring old normal depression I felt were what compelled me to open my laptop (just one screen) and write this.

There seems to be a great in joke going around at every computer manufacturer at the moment which is essentially; make stuff that is a contradiction in terms and see if people buy it. Like a Macbook Pro that treats its user with such disdain that it’s foregone the decades old convention for memorable and efficient keyboard shortcuts and replaced them with a tiny screen where you peck at primary functions with your fingers. The latest thread in this hilarious joke; let’s put three screens on a device whose sole purpose is to be portable.

I don’t think anyone has ever needed three screens to do any sort of work, ever. The only person that should be allowed this device is a NASA engineer who works from coffee shops a lot. You may (mistakenly) think I’m being unfair because this machine is meant for gamers, but if you’re so into your gaming that you require a personal IMAX to play Rocket League on, surely you’ll also be the sort of person who likes using a proper mouse instead of a trackpad and perhaps sitting in a proper chair.

This is what I don’t understand about the Razer ‘Project Valerie’ — which is its real name by the way — it’s both a laptop that could only appeal to the most hardcore of gamers and yet also eschews the things they value most.

On their website Razer also suggests, a tad desperately, that video editors might be interested in buying it, forgetting for a moment that, like all things to do with gaming, it’s daubed in rainbow LEDs and ‘tribal’ ‘artwork’.

A tacky tribal tattoo and a photo of a man’s arm

I do not understand why every gaming computer has to have this flavour of meaningless, vaguely exotic, testosterone fuelled branding. I suppose it’s in rebellion to the suited and booted crowd of Thinkpad users or the minimalist aesthetic of Apple products. “Look at all you squares with your spreadsheet workstations” the disco keyboard exclaims, while “Deal with it!” marquees across your two superfluous monitors.

This is a real advert for a real computer made by HP, a real company

All this peacocking really does is subtly hint at the industry’s own inadequacies, the like of which birthed the #Gamergate crowd. Some overtly masculine ‘extreme’ and aggressive branding over compensating for the fact that gaming is completely mainstream now and no longer the reserve of the few. The LAN party’s over and the lights have come on. What’s more is that for all the money these machines cost, the build quality of them is comparable to the most miserly specced Chromebook.

In case you’re wondering, I’d have named the three screened laptop “Cerbeus” after the mythological three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the underworld, but perhaps that would be a metaphor too wryly apt for the year to come.

Happy new year.

Design @hashicorp

Design @hashicorp