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One of the best gaming handhelds for 2024

Handheld gaming techniques are having a second. Whereas gaming on the go has been a factor for the reason that Sport Boy, the success of the Nintendo Change and a string of ever-improving processors have introduced an eruption of units that allow you to play all kinds of video games wherever you need. As a result of new fashions appear to reach each week, nevertheless, determining the perfect gaming handheld for you could be difficult. You already know that the Change is nice, however relying on what else you wish to play, the fitting handheld may vary from a $100 emulation machine to a $700 transportable PC. That can assist you slim issues down, we’ve researched the perfect handheld gaming consoles, examined the most important contenders and laid out just a few prime picks.

Photograph by Jessica Conditt / Engadget

Steam Deck OLED – Show: 7.4-inch HDR OLED, 1,280 x 800 decision, 1,000 nits peak HDR brightness, 600 nits SDR brightness, as much as 90Hz | Processor: Customized 6nm AMD APU | RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s | Storage: 512GB, 1TB SSD | Battery: 50Whr | Dimensions: 11.73 x 4.6 x 1.93 inches | Weight: 1.41 kilos | Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 | OS: SteamOS

Steam Deck LCD – Show: 7-inch IPS, 1,280 x 800 decision, 400 nits brightness, 60Hz | Processor: Customized 7nm AMD APU | RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 5500 MT/s | Storage: 256GB SSD | Battery: 40Whr | Dimensions: 11.73 x 4.6 x 1.93 inches | Weight: 1.48 kilos | Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 | OS: SteamOS

Because of a refresh late last year, Valve’s Steam Deck continues to supply the perfect stability of worth, efficiency and usefulness within the gaming handheld market. And the brand new Steam Deck OLED is an intensive improve over the unique. Beginning at $549 for 512GB of storage, this variant contains a 7.4-inch OLED show that’s brighter, sooner, barely larger and extra vivid than the 7-inch IPS panel on the now entry-level mannequin. The upper distinction and richer colours of an OLED display screen makes each sport look higher by default, however this show additionally helps HDR, with considerably brighter highlights at its peak. The utmost refresh charge has jumped from 60Hz to 90Hz as nicely, which may help many video games look smoother.

Because of the much less power-hungry show, a extra environment friendly AMD APU and a bigger battery, the Steam Deck OLED additionally lasts longer than earlier than. No handheld can play resource-intensive “AAA” video games for too lengthy, however Valve says the brand new mannequin can run for 3 to 12 hours relying on the sport, whereas the LCD mannequin lasts between two and eight. A bigger fan retains issues cooler and quieter, and the chassis feels lighter. Efficiency is roughly the identical, although the OLED mannequin’s elevated reminiscence bandwidth may help it achieve a pair further frames in sure video games.

All that mentioned, $549 is an enormous funding. The entry-level Steam Deck, which makes use of a extra fundamental IPS LCD show however now comes with a 256GB SSD as normal, remains to be an unmatched worth at $399. Newer AAA video games are actually pushing their limits, however each Decks can run tons of video games that simply aren’t potential on a Nintendo Change, from Elden Ring to Final Fantasy VII Remake to the Resident Evil 4 remake. Whereas official sport assist is proscribed to a subset of the Steam library, the checklist of officially verified and still-playable titles is very large, numerous and always rising. (There are workarounds to entry different storefronts as nicely.)

A near-constant stream of updates has turned Valve’s SteamOS into a versatile but user-friendly platform. You’ll nonetheless have to make tweaks from time to time to get a sport to run optimally, however the course of is often simple. That energy, mixed with third-party instruments like EmuDeck, makes the Deck excellent for emulation as nicely. Some PS3 and authentic Xbox video games could be difficult, however nearly every part else works fantastically. It’s also possible to cloud stream Xbox video games with a little setup.

The Steam Deck’s greatest situation is its measurement: At two inches thick and almost a foot lengthy, it stretches the definition of a “handheld” gadget, even when the OLED mannequin is lighter by comparability. The LCD Deck can get heat and noisy pretty shortly, too, and the d-pad on every gadget is considerably mushy. However the contoured grips on the again assist offset the majority, and each variations really feel sturdy, with responsive face buttons and triggers, clean joysticks and helpful twin touchpads.

Professionals

  • Sufficient energy play fashionable PC video games
  • Consumer-friendly interface
  • Vivid show on OLED mannequin
  • LCD mannequin is improbable worth
  • Very good emulation efficiency
Cons

  • Cumbersome
  • Does not assist each Steam sport or video games from different PC purchasers

$399 at Steam (LCD)

Photograph by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Show: 7-inch IPS, 1080p decision, 500 nits brightness, 120Hz, VRR | Processor: AMD Ryzen Z1 Excessive or AMD Ryzen Z1 | RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s | Storage: 512GB SSD | Battery: 40Whr | Dimensions: 11.02 x 4.37 x 0.83-1.28 inches | Weight: 1.34 kilos | Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 | OS: Home windows 11

If you happen to’re keen to spend further for extra energy, you may skip the Steam Deck and purchase a Home windows-based handheld as a substitute. The ASUS ROG Ally is the one that ought to work for most individuals, and it’s an honest various in the event you’re keen to commerce ease of use for the next efficiency ceiling. Consider it like a extra transportable gaming laptop computer.

Observe that we’re particularly recommending the mannequin with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Excessive APU, which prices $649. ASUS sells one other model with a weaker Ryzen Z1 chip for $150 much less, however the energy drop-off there’s too nice. With the Z1 Excessive, the ROG Ally can play extra demanding video games at increased body charges and resolutions than the Steam Deck. In our review, we noticed fps features of 15 to 25 % in AAA fare like Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Whereas the Steam Deck formally tops out at a TDP of 15W, the ROG Ally’s Turbo mode boosts its energy draw to 25W (or 30W when plugged in), letting it eke out extra frames. The recent addition of AMD’s Fluid Movement Frames body era tech may help some video games look smoother, too, although setting that feature up and correctly optimizing it is way from intuitive. Generally, the ROG Ally is not absolutely the quickest handheld, and the Steam Deck can really outperform it occasionally on the identical TDP, decision and graphics settings. Nevertheless it has extra overhead going ahead, which is vital in the event you principally play graphically demanding video games.

The ROG Ally’s 7-inch LCD show isn’t as vibrant or color-rich because the Steam Deck OLED, nevertheless it has a sharper 1080p decision and a sooner 120Hz refresh charge. Most significantly, it helps variable refresh charges (VRR), which helps hold the picture clean whilst a sport’s body charge fluctuates. Regardless of having a similar-size display screen, the ROG Ally can be shorter, lighter and thinner than the Steam Deck OLED. That mentioned, it doesn’t include a case. And although the {hardware} isn’t as a lot of a brick because the Steam Deck, Valve’s handheld has extra pronounced grips round its again, which may nonetheless make it simpler to carry for these with giant palms.

The ROG Ally’s upgraded efficiency and sharper show come on the expense of battery life, nevertheless. That often sits within the two- to four-hour vary, however it may be even much less with sure video games and better efficiency modes, considerably defeating the purpose of a “transportable” gadget.

As a result of it runs on Home windows 11, the ROG Ally can play video games from any gaming consumer, not only a number of Steam video games. If you happen to’ve constructed up libraries on shops like Epic, GOG, Itch.io or the Xbox app, you may entry them right here as you’ll on another Home windows PC, no particular workarounds required. For individuals who wish to play Epic exclusives like Alan Wake 2 or Xbox Sport Cross titles, this can be a actual benefit.

However the greatest situation with all Home windows handhelds is Home windows itself. ASUS has made more strides than most by turning its Armoury Crate software program right into a centralized settings hub and sport library, nevertheless it’s nonetheless slapping a bandage on an OS that merely isn’t designed for this gadget class (for now).

Whether or not a sport works easily instantly can really feel like a crapshoot on a Home windows handheld. Typically the UI gained’t scale correctly, typically you’ll need to spend a number of minutes twiddling with graphics settings and key bindings, oftentimes you’ll need to alternate between navigating the OS with buttons and together with your fingers. I as soon as needed to hard-reset the ROG Ally after a driver situation stored the display screen from turning on.

ASUS reveals a useful seven-minute tutorial on how you can replace and use the ROG Ally upon first launching Armoury Crate, however the truth that it wants a seven-minute intro video within the first place is telling. No person will confuse the Steam Deck with a Change, nevertheless it’s a lot less complicated to only decide up and use than any Home windows various.

The ROG Ally has additionally had some troubles with high quality management. Most notably, a number of customers have reported issues with the gadget ejecting or outright killing their microSD playing cards, a difficulty ASUS has since confirmed. The gadget’s SSD is replaceable with a little legwork, nevertheless, so we suggest taking that route in the event you want greater than 512GB of storage. Plenty of ASUS gadget homeowners have famous significantly terrible experiences with the corporate’s guarantee and return service as nicely, although the agency recently pledged to overtake its buyer assist processes.

Since our final replace, ASUS has unveiled a upgraded variant of the Ally known as the ROG Ally X, which is up for pre-order now and will likely be launched on July 22. This mannequin has the identical show and chipset however makes use of an even bigger 80Whr battery, 1TB of storage, 24GB of sooner RAM, an additional USB-C port and several other design tweaks, together with extra pronounced grips and a revised d-pad. The trade-offs are that it’s barely thicker and heavier, plus it prices extra at $800. Engadget’s Sam Rutherford was extremely impressed with the upgrades in his hands-on preview, however we’ll replace this information once more as soon as we will totally evaluation the brand new mannequin.

Professionals

  • Extra highly effective than Steam Deck
  • Works with any Home windows gaming consumer
  • 1080p, 120Hz show with VRR
  • Nicely-built
Cons

  • Home windows 11 is not optimized for the shape issue
  • Brief battery life
  • Defective microSD card reader
  • Pricier than Steam Deck

$650 at Best Buy

Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Show: 4.7-inch IPS, 750 x 1,334 decision, 500 nits brightness, 60Hz | Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 1100 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR4x | Storage: 128GB UFS 3.1 | Battery: 5,000mAh | Dimensions: 7.27 x 3.25 x 0.62 inches | Weight: 0.58 kilos | Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 | OS: Android 11

The $199 Retroid Pocket 4 Pro is a superb worth for individuals who primarily desire a gaming handheld to emulate older consoles. It’s an Android-based gadget with far much less energy than the Steam Deck or ROG Ally, so it could possibly solely run PC, PS5 and Xbox video games through streaming. However if you’d like one thing extra compact and are keen to go through the rigors of getting emulators to work, it’s essentially the most succesful handheld we’ve examined for lower than $200.

The Pocket 4 Professional runs on a MediaTek Dimensity 1100 chip and 8GB of RAM, and it has a built-in fan with three totally different modes you may activate to realize a little bit further efficiency. This offers sufficient energy to play most video games from the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube, two well-liked retro consoles which might be typically powerful for cell handhelds to emulate. Not each sport labored — significantly demanding titles like Star Wars Rogue Squadron II and ESPN NFL 2K5 have been too uneven — and getting many others to run optimally required tinkering with decision, rendering and lively cooling settings. With some setup, although, it could possibly play a big chunk of PS2 and GameCube video games at full pace and double their native decision. The actual fact it could possibly stably play extra intensive titles like Gran Turismo 4 in any respect, even at decrease settings, is improbable for the cash.

Virtually every part we examined from techniques under the PS2 and GameCube on the efficiency totem pole — PSP, Dreamcast, PS1, N64, and many others. — ran flawlessly at a 2-4x upscale. The one exceptions have been just a few video games for the notoriously thorny Sega Saturn. Choose video games from later consoles just like the 3DS and Wii have been additionally playable, although the expertise was extra touch-and-go. For contemporary video games, Xbox cloud streaming labored simply nice, as did native Android video games with gamepad assist like Diablo Immortal.

The Pocket 4 Professional is constructed like a shorter Nintendo Change Lite. It’s a flat slab that lacks ergonomic grips however remains to be snug to carry because of its low weight and small profile. (Retroid sells a comfy for an additional $15 in the event you want it, although.) It doesn’t really feel low-cost or creaky regardless of its plastic body, and its textured coating is pleasant to the contact. All of its buttons really feel proper: The face buttons are clean and have a cushty quantity of journey; the analog triggers are conveniently extensive and flared; the bumpers are clicky and simple to tell apart; and the d-pad is agency and exact. The joysticks are on the stubby aspect and positioned a little bit too low on the gadget to be actually snug with fashionable video games, however they’ve a cushty stage of rigidity. And since they use magnetic Hall effect sensors, they need to keep away from drifting points over time. Beneath these are helpful begin, choose, dwelling and again buttons. There’s additionally a micro-HDMI port for connecting to a TV or monitor. The down-firing audio system are completely first rate, although they’re straightforward to cowl together with your fingers accidentally.

The 4.7-inch IPS show isn’t essentially the most correct we’ve examined even after updates, nevertheless it’s sufficiently vibrant, sharp and vivid, and any colour temperature points are laborious to note except you’re white background. It’s cramped for streaming fashionable video games, nevertheless, and its 16:9 facet ratio means you’ll get hefty black borders with some older consoles by default. Battery life is ok given the gadget’s size-to-performance ratio: We acquired three to 4 hours with PS2 and GameCube video games, and round eight or 9 hours mixing in older consoles. The lively cooling system prevents the Pocket 4 Professional from ever feeling too scorching, although it could possibly get noticeably loud at its highest efficiency setting.

Retroid additionally sells a non-Professional model of the Pocket 4 with a slower Dimensity 900 chip and 4GB of RAM for $149. We haven’t been in a position to check it, however in the event you like this design and don’t care as a lot about emulating video games from the PS2, GameCube and up, it might be a greater worth. It will nonetheless be capable of play many video games from these two techniques, and every part under that must be rock stable. However the Pocket 4 Professional casts a wider security web performance-wise, so it must be price the additional $50 for individuals who wish to emulate higher-power consoles extra reliably.

Professionals

  • Sturdy emulation efficiency for the worth
  • Extremely transportable
  • Controls really feel nice
  • Android is easy to navigate
Cons

  • Requires a ton of tinkering to get emulation working optimally
  • Dimension and controls aren’t supreme for streaming fashionable video games
  • Battery life is not lengthy with demanding duties

$199 at Retroid

Photograph by James Trew / Engadget

Show: 6-inch IPS, 1080p decision | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | RAM: 8GB, 12GB or 16GB LPDDR5x | Storage: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB UFS 4.0 | Battery: 8,000mAh | Dimensions: 8.86 x 3.86 x 0.67 inches | Weight: 0.93 kilos | Wi-fi: Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3 | OS: Android 13

You probably have extra cash to burn on an emulation-focused machine, the AYN Odin 2 is the very best retro gaming handheld you should purchase proper now. This Android gadget can play every part the Retroid Pocket 4 Professional can plus a little bit further, with smoother and extra dependable efficiency. That is primarily on account of its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which is similar chip utilized by lots of final 12 months’s flagship phones.

The Odin 2 begins at $299 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which is pricey when the entry-level Steam Deck allows you to play PC video games for simply $100 extra. Nonetheless, amongst extra compact cell handhelds, there is not a lot else that runs this nicely on this worth vary. It performed all PS2 and GameCube video games we examined at two to a few occasions their native decision, whereas techniques just like the PS1, N64 and Dreamcast have been sometimes playable at a 3-4x upscale. Most 3DS and Wii video games could have little to no slowdowns at 2-3x, both. It’s higher than most with the Sega Saturn, and it could possibly play a wider vary of Change video games than the Pocket 4 Professional (although it is best to simply purchase a Change if that is a significant concern). Tougher techniques will nonetheless require some settings tweaks, however you gained’t need to tinker on a game-by-game foundation as a lot as you’ll with lower-cost units.

It’s not simply uncooked efficiency, although: The Odin 2 can be a refined piece of {hardware}. It’s not as compact because the Pocket 4 Professional, nevertheless it’s a lot much less chunky than a transportable PC and the curved grips on its again make it straightforward to carry, significantly with newer video games. Its d-pad, face buttons, analog triggers and Corridor impact joysticks all really feel nice. Different touches like a fingerprint scanner, a devoted return button, a micro-HDMI out port and two customizable again buttons are all good perks, and the front-facing audio system are a transparent improve over the Pocket 4 Professional.

The 6-inch, 1080p touchscreen is stable and well-sized, although it could possibly keep a bit too vibrant in darker settings. Battery life is great: We acquired greater than eight hours of juice emulating techniques just like the PS2, however that jumped over 20 hours with lighter duties. The gadget helps 65W quick charging as nicely. Cloud streaming and native Android video games work as they need to, and since the entire thing runs on a flippantly modded model of Google’s OS, its inventory interface ought to really feel acquainted to most.

The bottom Odin 2 has been out and in of inventory, and the Pocket 4 Professional is a genuinely compelling various for $100 much less. However the Odin 2 remains to be a step up in efficiency and total consolation for individuals who can afford it. If you wish to play the classics or stream fashionable video games and not using a hitch, it’s the Android handheld to get.

Professionals

  • Wonderful emulation efficiency
  • Comfy
  • Nice battery life
  • Android is easy to navigate
Cons

  • Steam Deck is extra succesful for $100 further
  • Organising emulators nonetheless could be laborious
  • Docked expertise is not seamless
  • Inventory points

$299 at AYN

Photograph by James Trew / Engadget

Show: 3.5-inch LCD, 1,600 x 1,440 decision, VRR 30Hz-62Hz | Chipset: Altera Cyclone V FPGA, Altera Cyclone 10 FPGA | RAM: 3.4MB BRAM, 2x 16MB 16-bit mobile RAM, 64MB 16-bit SDRAM, 256KB 16-bit asynchronous SRAM | Battery: 4,300mAh | Dimensions: 5.86 x 3.46 x 0.86 inches | Weight: 0.61 kilos | OS: Analogue OS

The Analogue Pocket is the ultimate Game Boy. Its vertical design is constructed like a modernized, premium model of Nintendo’s traditional handheld, and it could possibly even work with equipment just like the Sport Boy Digicam. In comparison with the unique, although, the Pocket provides two further face buttons, a pair of rear triggers, a microSD slot, a USB-C port and a chargeable battery rated for six to 10 hours of playtime. Most importantly, it has a beautiful 3.5-inch show that’s each backlit and extremely sharp (615 ppi) however could be set to seem like an outdated Sport Boy panel with totally different filter modes. The gadget can even output to a TV with an optionally available dock.

Not like the retro handhelds talked about above, the Pocket is designed to play precise cartridges, not simply ROM information. It really works with Sport Boy, Sport Boy Colour and Sport Boy Advance video games by its cartridge slot, whereas video games from the Sega Sport Gear, TurboGrafx-16, Neo Geo Pocket and Atari Lynx are playable by optionally available adapters.

Like previous Analogue units, the Pocket makes use of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) motherboards to imitate its goal techniques on a {hardware} stage. In follow, this implies the Pocket’s “emulation” of older titles is near-perfect, with a stage of responsiveness and visible faithfulness that software-based emulation can’t match. Pop in a Sport Boy or GBA cartridge and you may primarily play it as supposed. That mentioned, because of a big post-launch update and an lively person neighborhood, the Pocket can even run ROMs off a microSD card and thus play techniques just like the SNES and Sega Genesis.

The Pocket isn’t low-cost at $220, and its shoulder buttons aren’t as crisp to press as the superb d-pad or face buttons. Nonetheless, in case you have a group of Sport Boy, Sport Gear or GBA video games, the Pocket is essentially the most elegant approach to play them, and it’s solely turn out to be extra versatile over time. Its greatest flaw is that it can be hard to purchase — anticipate to attend just a few weeks for brand new orders to ship, if not longer.

Professionals

  • Performs Sport Boy, Sport Boy Colour, and GBA cartridges with near-perfect emulation
  • Beautiful show
  • Spectacular construct high quality
  • Expandable through adapters
  • Software program emulation obtainable
Cons

  • Inventory points and transport delays are widespread
  • Shoulder buttons really feel a little bit spongy
  • Tiny quantity buttons

$220 at Analogue

The Legion Go's 8.8-inch OLED display is the biggest screen available on pretty much any gaming handheld available today. The Legion Go's 8.8-inch OLED display is the biggest screen available on pretty much any gaming handheld available today.

The Lenovo Legion Go. (Photograph by Sam Rutherford/Engadget)

The Lenovo Legion Go is a capable alternative to the ASUS ROG Ally if you’d like a Home windows handheld with a bigger show. It prices $700, runs on the identical Ryzen Z1 Excessive chip and affords an analogous set of efficiency modes, nevertheless it has a mondo-sized 8.8-inch panel with a sharper 2,560 x 1,600 decision and the next 144Hz refresh charge. It additionally borrows some concepts from the Change, together with removable controllers and a built-in kickstand for taking part in video games in a “tabletop” mode. These controllers have touchpads to make navigating Home windows a little bit simpler, one thing the ROG Ally lacks. Battery life is a little bit higher than ASUS’ machine as nicely.

Nevertheless it’s nonetheless a Home windows handheld, and Lenovo’s software program tweaks aren’t as mature (but) as what ASUS has finished with Armoury Crate, so the UX typically feels half-baked. The jumbo design is bulkier and a half-pound heavier than the ROG Ally, so some will discover it too fatiguing to carry. Its followers are louder, too, and the show lacks VRR. Nonetheless, it is not a bad choice in the event you’re dead-set on Home windows.

The Miyoo Mini Plus is way more reasonably priced than the Retroid Pocket 4 and comes with a well-built, Sport Boy-style type issue that matches properly with older video games. Its 3.5-inch show actually pops for one thing within the $60 to $80 vary, its battery lasts so long as it must and it could possibly emulate consoles as much as the unique PlayStation with out a lot situation. It runs Linux, so it’s extensively customizable, although it could possibly require a little bit of tinkering to get it working optimally. Because it’s from a smaller Chinese language agency and isn’t obtainable at main retailers, nevertheless, it may be tough to really purchase.

PlaydatePlaydate

The Playdate. (Engadget)

The Playdate, from app developer and Untitled Goose Game writer Panic, is a tiny yellow field with a 2.7-inch monochrome show, two face buttons, a d-pad and a bodily crank constructed into its aspect. We known as it a “cross between a Sport Boy and a enterprise card” in our review, and it’s certainly extremely small at roughly three inches tall and 0.18 kilos. It has a devoted sport library that largely consists of oddball indies, most of which give attention to one or two core concepts as a substitute of making an attempt to stuff in as many mechanics as potential. A pair dozen of these video games are bundled with the gadget, whereas others can be found through a built-in store or sideloading from retailers like Itch.io. It’s typically well-built, and its battery life is first rate at six to eight hours per cost.

At $200, it’s laborious to name the Playdate an important worth when it’s solely designed to play a number of area of interest video games. Its show isn’t backlit, both. However in a sea of units that attempt to be every part for everybody, the Playdate is admirably centered and low-key. If you happen to’re into smaller-scale fare and have some cash to play with, it’ll be a enjoyable toy.

The Anbernic RG405M is an effective Android handheld in the event you like the thought of the Retroid Pocket 4 however need one thing extra compact. This gadget has a 4-inch show with a 4:3 facet ratio, which implies you gained’t need to cope with black bars as a lot for retro video games (although it could possibly really feel crunched with newer techniques and cloud streaming). It additionally has a extra substantial steel body. Nevertheless it’s often a little bit costlier than the Pocket 4, and its chipset is weaker for PS2 or GameCube emulation.

We’ll additionally notice the Retroid Pocket 2S, one other 4:3 handheld that is obtainable for $90. It’s a pleasant compromise in the event you’re on a tighter funds, however that decrease value brings a smaller 3.5-inch show, a barely slower chip and fewer premium construct high quality than the RG405M.

The Ayaneo Flip DS gaming handheld rests on a light brown wooden table, with its top screen showcasing the game Rocket League and its bottom screen playing a YouTube video.The Ayaneo Flip DS gaming handheld rests on a light brown wooden table, with its top screen showcasing the game Rocket League and its bottom screen playing a YouTube video.

The Ayaneo Flip DS. (Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

The is among the solely Home windows handhelds to run on an Intel chip. It’s constructed nicely sufficient and has an honest 7-inch 120Hz show, however its efficiency can’t cling with AMD-based handhelds just like the ROG Ally and Legion Go. Its central software program hub, MSI Middle M, wants work, too. At $700 to $800 relying on the configuration, there simply isn’t a lot motive to contemplate it. You possibly can for extra particulars.

The is a cool idea: a robust Home windows machine with a clamshell design and twin shows, kind of like a supercharged Nintendo DS. It feels sturdy, it performs roughly on par with the opposite Ryzen 7 7840U (or 8840U) handhelds on this information, and its 7-inch prime show is sharp, quick and vibrant. The second display screen makes it a pure match for emulating Wii U or 3DS video games, however you can additionally, say, lookup a information or play a YouTube video with out having to shut no matter you’re taking part in. Sadly, that is extra of a neat thought than a totally thought-out product. The folding design signifies that the joysticks need to be brief and recessed, whereas the face buttons and d-pad are uncomfortably flat. The entire thing is overly thick and heavy, plus it runs extremely popular. Battery life tops out round two hours, and really managing two shows on a Home windows handheld is about as clunky as you’d anticipate. With above $800, the Flip DS is tough to suggest except you’re (oddly) determined for a handheld Wii U emulator. We’re all the time completely satisfied to see extra bizarre {hardware}, although.

The Ayaneo Kun is pictured on a coffee table with the Death Stranding launch screen showing.The Ayaneo Kun is pictured on a coffee table with the Death Stranding launch screen showing.

The Ayaneo Kun. (Photograph by James Trew / Engadget)

The Ayaneo Kun is among the many most decadent Home windows handhelds we’ve examined. With a pointy 8.4-inch show, a robust Ryzen 7 7840U chip, as much as 64GB of RAM, as much as 4TB of storage, an enormous 75Wh battery and a whopping 54W max TDP, it’s each a gaming beast and a possible alternative for a desktop PC. Nevertheless it starts at nicely over $1,000, with a top-end config priced at an eye-watering $1,800. It’s additionally large, and it suffers from the same old Home windows-related points. It’s a brilliant gadget if cash is really no object, nevertheless it’s extra handheld than most want.

The Ayaneo 2S is one other high-power Home windows handheld with a sharper show, bigger battery and extra configuration choices than the ROG Ally. It makes use of the identical chip because the Kun as nicely. Nevertheless it’s restricted to a 60Hz refresh charge and prices just a few hundred {dollars} extra.

A small gaming handheld that looks reminiscent to the original Nintendo Game Boy called the Anbernic RG35XX Plus rests at an angle on a light brown wooden table. The display is turned on and showcases the start screen from the Game Boy game Metal Gear Solid.A small gaming handheld that looks reminiscent to the original Nintendo Game Boy called the Anbernic RG35XX Plus rests at an angle on a light brown wooden table. The display is turned on and showcases the start screen from the Game Boy game Metal Gear Solid.

The Anbernic RG35XX Plus. (Photograph by Jeff Dunn / Engadget)

The Anbernic RG35XX Plus is one other wallet-friendly vertical handheld. For about the identical worth because the Miyoo Mini Plus, it affords a sooner chipset, extra RAM and an even bigger battery alongside a equally spectacular design. Its inventory OS is sloppy, nevertheless, and the third-party you may flash to it aren’t as user-friendly or straightforward to arrange as for Miyoo’s handheld. Additionally, whereas its stronger processor is sweet, its small display screen and lack of analog sticks means you gained’t wish to emulate a lot past the PS1 anyway. Our reservations over the software program additionally apply to the RG35XX H, a brand new variant of the Plus that places the identical chip in a extra conventional design.

The Logitech G Cloud could be an important Android decide if it value about $150 much less. Its 7-inch 1080p show is vibrant, vibrant and usually extra pleasing to have a look at than the panels on the Retroid Pocket 4 Professional or AYN Odin 2, its battery lasts 10 to 12 hours per cost and its design is comfortable to carry for hours at a time. Alas, the G Cloud sells for $300, which is simply an excessive amount of when the Odin 2 affords way more energy for a similar worth.

PlayStation PortalPlayStation Portal

The PlayStation Portal. (Photograph by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget)

The PlayStation Portal is a baffling gadget that may solely stream video games from a PlayStation 5. It lacks built-in apps, so emulation isn’t potential, and it could possibly’t faucet into the cloud streaming service obtainable with a PlayStation Plus Premium subscription. As a result of it’s completely depending on the standard of your property Wi-Fi, we will’t assure how nicely it’ll really carry out for you. It doesn’t work with Bluetooth earbuds, both. Its 8-inch show is ok and the DualSense-style controls are nice, so Sony diehards who desire a second display screen for native PS5 streaming might even see the enchantment. However there’s nothing right here that you could’t do with a smartphone and a mobile game controller, so most individuals are higher off saving their $200.

A collection of gaming handhelds rest on a wooden tabletop. The handhelds include the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model, Valve Steam Deck and the Retroid Pocket 3, as well as an iPhone 12 mini hooked up to a Backbone One mobile game controller.A collection of gaming handhelds rest on a wooden tabletop. The handhelds include the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model, Valve Steam Deck and the Retroid Pocket 3, as well as an iPhone 12 mini hooked up to a Backbone One mobile game controller.

Jeff Dunn / Engadget

You possibly can break down the gaming handheld market into three broad tiers. On the prime, you’ve gotten x86-based transportable gaming PCs just like the Steam Deck or ASUS ROG Ally. These are essentially the most highly effective handhelds you should purchase, as they search to copy the expertise of a reasonably specced gaming desktop. The Steam Deck runs on the Linux working system, however most others use Home windows. If you wish to play fashionable, not too long ago launched PC video games on the go (and want one thing stronger than a Change), that is the kind of gadget you’d get. They’ll additionally emulate the widest vary of retro consoles. They’re sometimes the biggest and most cumbersome units to carry, nevertheless, and their battery life could be brief. Naturally, they’re additionally the costliest, costing wherever from $400 to greater than $1,000.

Additional down on the worth spectrum are “cell handhelds” just like the Logitech G Cloud or Retroid Pocket. These units typically run Android or Linux and may vary from beneath $50 to $400-ish. They aren’t outfitted to play fashionable console or PC titles, however they’re often extra compact than a transportable PC, and you may nonetheless use them for cell video games and cloud streaming. Whereas most are marketed towards these ends, many players really purchase them to emulate traditional video games by software program like RetroArch. Getting emulators to work can be complicated, and accessing the BIOS and ROM information required to play video games this manner is legally murky. One lawsuit from Nintendo not too long ago led to the shutdown of the , for example. (Engadget doesn’t condone piracy.) Backing up information of video games you already personal for private use solely is taken into account extra defensible, although, so for {that a} cell handheld is usually a extra user- and wallet-friendly approach to play the classics — supplied you don’t wish to .

We’ll name the final tier “handhelds that do their very own factor.” This can be a catch-all for issues just like the Switch or Playdate: transportable units that run closely personalized software program and purpose to supply a singular gaming expertise. They aren’t essentially supreme for emulation or taking part in the most recent multiplatform titles; as a substitute, they typically have distinct sport libraries. They may not have the widest enchantment because of this (Change excluded), however they’re typically simpler for much less tech-literate of us to only decide up and use.

June 2024: We’ve up to date this information to make sure all of our suggestions are updated, including a notice on ASUS’ upcoming within the course of. We’ve additionally included particulars on two new handhelds we’ve examined since our earlier replace: the and . Staying on prime of this market is a tall activity, however we’re at present current noteworthy releases just like the PSP-esque , the GBA-style and the as nicely.

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