Thursday, 12 January 2012

OnLive is Coming to the Razer Project Fiona Gaming Tablet

OnLive was caught running on the Razer Project Fiona gaming tablet prototype. At least, judging by the pictures and video, the OnLive cloud gaming service was installed on the Project Fiona prototype. I'm sure some gamers think OnLive and Project Fiona would be a match made in heaven considering the great controls which are suitable for PC games that support console style gamepads like the Xbox 360 gamepad.


There were already wild speculations running around that Razer used OnLive on the Project Fiona prototype to show it off, maybe because the final hardware isn't ready. With the impending release of the OnLive Desktop App for iPad, which will bring a cloud streamed version of Windows 7 and other Windows 7 Apps to Apple's device, and later to Android devices, PCs, Macs and TVs, anything would be possible.

It was confirmed with an OnLive representative that the games were demoed on the streaming game service. Just to clarify, the Fiona is reportedly running Windows 7 locally: of course it's technically possible to stream that from OnLive too (just take a look at Windows 7 running on an iPad), we're told that the OnLive Cloud Desktop isn't powering the entire experience this time around.

In fact the Fiona prototype does have OnLive installed and a partnership is in the works with OnLive, it was verified first-hand that games run locally on the Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor from local storage, and are not streaming in any way. Razer was asked to start at the Windows 7 desktop, launch Steam, set it to offline mode, disconnect the Wi-Fi, and even unplug the Fiona's cord, and the company happily complied. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine ran (and performed just as well) as it did when the tablet was fully connected.


Because it looked like the Project Fiona gaming tablet was streaming games from remote servers rather than playing them using its Core i7 processor, the speculations were running high. As you'll see in the pictures and video below, the demonstrators selected Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (the game is part of the OnLive game catalog) from a menu marked "OnLive," and that's the OnLive icon in focus on the (normally hidden) Windows 7 taskbar as well. Mind you, the Fiona is just a concept and we'll definitely give Razer the benefit of the doubt that the final version will have the muscle to run games natively: Considering that OnLive runs well on low-power ARM chips, there'd be little point to having a full-strength Ivy Bridge processor if not! Plus, there's no sneezing at an additional source of easy games from OnLive, and there's also plenty of R&D time left before the Fiona is slated for market. You have to appreciate the irony, though: nearly three years ago, it was OnLive which was accused of faking its streaming game demos, and look where it wound up.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was also  running on Fiona, started directly from Steam, just as you would on a PC. The game looked beautiful even on "Ultra High" settings, coming in at around 15 to 20 frames a second. On "High," Skyrim could do 50 or more frames a second at 1280 x 800. Seeing this flat, compact device running the game at such high quality was almost unbelievable. The Steam bit doesn't go hand-in-hand with the OnLive theory at first, but OnLive fundamentally uses Windows 7 instances beneath its game service, so if you launched a Steam game through OnLive, you’d likely see the same pop-ups you’d see on your own Windows 7 computer. Curiously, OnLive confirmed that this was happening, likely a misunderstanding.


There was certaintly room for speculation before Razer cleared it up with the proof of Fiona running without an internet connection. One could argue that OnLive and Steam were running side-by-side on a local copy of Windows 7 to demonstrate that popular digital gaming services can be run on the device. Of course the video quality was looking great, but it isn't that hard to achieve that for an OnLive video stream when running on such a small screen. If Razer would use a great internet connection and they would even use a custom higher bit rate video stream provided for demo purposes by OnLive, anything would be possible, even faking a Windows 7 install.



The main news is of course that OnLive is partnering with Razer and coming to one more great portable gaming device in the form of the Razer Project Fiona.

SOURCES: The Verge, Destructoid.

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