One of the biggest tech trade shows was marred with theft after two prototypes of one of the most attention-grabbing new products were stolen. Razer, which debuted its revolutionary three-screen laptop at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is now on the hunt to get its products back.
CES is a chance for tech companies from around the world to show off their newest and most innovative products on a huge stage. Razer did that this year with its laptop featuring three 4K screens—the first portable laptop of its kind.
However, two prototypes of the laptop were stolen from the company’s press room on Sunday, January 8, just days after their introduction. The reported theft was confirmed by the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES.
Razer views the theft as a form of cheating and isn’t taking it lightly, even going as far as calling it industrial espionage.
“Our teams worked months on end to conceptualize and develop these units,” said Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan. ”It is cheating, and cheating doesn’t sit well with us. Anyone who would do this clearly isn’t very smart.”
The company is working with CES security and local law enforcement and is offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who can provide original information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the thieves.
The theft calls into question security at CES, which is attended by more than 175,000 people and features more than 3,600 exhibitors. A spokesperson for the Consumer Technology Association reasserted that security is a top priority of the organization and the event, stating that they use a variety of security measures.
As a general rule, laborers aren’t allowed on the show floor to clean or take down booths until an hour after the show closes so that companies can secure their products before taking down their booths. The Razer prototypes were reportedly stolen at 4 p.m., when the show was still open.
According to gaming reporter Todd Prince, the theft was particularly surprising given the event’s tight security.
“There were cameras all over the place. How someone was actually able to get this out was a bit of a surprise, that someone would even take that risk,” he said.
The three-screen laptop is a concept device developed as part of Singapore-based Razer’s Project Valerie. The target audience is gamers, as the laptop allows them the ability to use three screens for gaming while also being portable enough to move to different locations.
Each laptop features three 17.3-inch 4K screens with rich display for a more immersive gaming experience. The screens pop into place when the laptop is opened for triple-wide viewing.
The laptop was already being heralded in gaming circles as the next big innovative product. Razer management noted that the two stolen models are not the only prototypes of the laptop.
Because the design was only in a prototype, Razer hasn’t yet announced a targeted release date or price and hasn’t even said if it will commercialize the laptop. The added weight and restrictions of having three screens significantly limits the product’s target audience and computing power.
However, the publicity Razer has earned since the theft has shown that interest and demand in the product might be greater than the company or industry experts initially thought.
The CES theft isn’t the first time a Razer prototype has been stolen. In 2011, two prototypes of the Razer Blade gaming laptop were stolen from the company’s San Fransisco research and development labs.
The thieves broke in overnight, found the prototypes, and didn’t take anything else. The culprits in that case were never caught.
Razer Publicity Stunt?
However, not everyone seems to be buying the idea that someone could steal two laptops under such tight security without being caught. Those skeptical of the incident say the reported theft could simply be a publicity stunt to drum up more attention for a new product.
Reporting the theft of the laptop puts it in more headlines and draws attention to the unique three-screen design.
However, industry experts are generally dismissing the idea, saying that Razer already had a lot of exposure for its new laptop and simply didn’t need to fake a story to get more publicity.
In the days since the theft, Razer has stayed relatively quiet about the progress of the investigation and hasn’t made any announcements about thieves being apprehended. However, the laptops are reportedly for sale on the Chinese website Tabao for $21,733.
It is unclear what Razer’s next steps will be and if the laptops will actually be able to be sold, assuming that Taboo has rules prohibiting the sale of stolen merchandise.
However, the truthfulness of the reports and for-sale item is being drawn into question. There is a possibility that the listing was faked and that the items for sale are not actually the stolen laptops but that it was a PR stunt. The investigation is currently ongoing.
The mystery of the stolen laptop appears to be a ways away from completion. Whether the prototypes were actually stolen and if they will turn up remains to be seen, but the innovation and interest in the three-screen laptops is definitely something notable that could impact the future of the tech and gaming space.