CES may be flooded with new tech coming out soon, but it's also a place for companies to show off new things that may (or may not) become a reality in the future. Dell's doing just that within its Alienware gaming family with a new concept device dubbed Concept UFO, a handheld gaming console that looks quite similar to the Nintendo Switch but is built for full-fledged portable PC gaming.
We should preface the rest of this article by saying that this is exactly what its name suggests: a concept. While we got a few minutes to mess around with working models of Concept UFO ahead of CES, Dell currently does not have concrete plans to bring Concept UFO to market. Most questions about specs or detailed capabilities were promptly deflected as well, so the details we know about the inner workings of the device are limited.
However, unlike many other concepts I've tested in the past, Concept UFO was quite impressive because it actually worked. It's a rectangular handheld gaming console with an eight-inch display and removable controllers on both ends. Working models I saw all ran Windows and were able to render playable games in handheld mode; docked mode, in which the console was connected to an external display and its controllers were detached; and another portable mode in which the controllers were detached but connected by a center "bridge."
Due to the inclusion of such a large display, Concept UFO is noticeably larger than a Nintendo Switch and feels bulkier, too. Dell did not provide exact dimensions, so we cannot say exactly how much larger it is than a Switch. Regardless, that still makes Concept UFO more portable than most 15- or 17-inch gaming laptops.
The device was comfortable to hold in my hand, and that's mostly attributed to the ergonomics of the controllers. The joysticks, buttons, and D-pad don't have as much variation in placement as they do on the Switch's Joy-Cons, and that makes them a bit easier to use for a newbie when connected to the main console.
Dell also had a narrow bridge that was used to join both controllers together into one larger controller when detached from the console. Since the device is larger than a Nintendo Switch, those with larger hands may not feel the need to use the controllers with the bridge to get a comfortable grip. However, there will be some who simply prefer playing this way rather than in handheld mode. In addition to being docked and connected to a TV or a monitor, the device can be played upright, with the controllers detached, using the integrated kickstand on the console's back. The kickstand actually expands the entire width of the main console, giving it a larger surface area and making it more stable than the thin kickstand on the Nintendo Switch.