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Alienware made a prototype portable PC that works like a giant Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Future)

I normally recommend the Nintendo Switch as the perfect companion device for an otherwise desk-based PC gamer, but Dell has other plans. The Alienware Concept UFO is a handheld Windows 10 gaming PC wearing the Switch's clothes, and it's on display at CES right now. We'll have our people on the ground at the show tell us what they think as soon as possible, but our friends at Tom's Guide got an in-depth early look

Here's the basics: The "Concept" in the name is for real—this handheld chonker isn't for sale or anything, so don't go googling or budgeting quite yet. The UFO is an attempt to pack a PC into a tiny shell without relying on the mobile architecture used by similar attempts at portable PC gaming devices, like the Razer Edge and Nvidia Shield. "This is going to be a full PC, so that's that's where it's the first of its kind. It runs for Windows. It's a PC in a unique body style," Ray Watkins, Dell consumer product reviews manager, tells Tom's Guide. 

The true draw is in how the Concept UFO can be played almost exactly as the Switch can. There's the basic handheld mode, the kickstand-supported controllers-detached mode, and the docked mode, where the device is connected to a display for the more traditional couch and controller experience.

(Image credit: Future)

I'm game. The Witcher 3 on Switch reads as an animated bruise starring Doug Cockle, so a flexible Windows 10 PC on the go fills some kind of niche. An 8-inch screen will work better for tiny text and interfaces, too—the Switch's 6.2 inches doesn't always cut it. But slap on those controllers, take in the big bevel, and the Concept UFO stops looking so portable. You're going to need a new backpack, assuming it fits into whatever budget this thing will require. Battery life is another important question. I can't imagine this thing lasting for more than an hour or two of play, but I'm open to being wrong. And how much does it weigh?

Unfortunately, we don't know what specs the UFO is packing, and likely won't until, and if, this thing ever hits the market. I don't expect it to hold a candle to a well-equipped desktop PC, but do expect it to match up to current gen consoles. What's the point of packing a PC into a Switch's body if it doesn't make Mario on Switch look like a single, vibrating pixel?

We'll find out more about the Concept UFO tomorrow. An official reveal is scheduled for January 7 at 10 am PT. 

James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.