The AYA Neo is a handheld gaming computer with a 7 inch touchscreen display wedged between a set of game controllers and an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor with Radeon Vega 6 graphics powering the system.

It went up for pre-order through a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, but when the first units started shipping some backers encountered hardware problems, so the folks at AYA upgraded pretty much everything but the motherboard, processor, and SSD. Newer units, called the AYA Neo 2021, began shipping with the updated hardware in October. But folks who got the old version also have the option to perform a DIY upgrade, because AYA is producing a set of upgrade kits that will be available to the first 500 backers of the AYA Neo crowdfunding campaign.

In a nutshell, AYA says the new hardware and upgrade kits address issues including:

  • Visible glue at the corners of the display (this appears gradually over time)
  • Backlight bleed around the edges of the display
  • Screen color calibration issues
  • Speakers that are too quiet
  • Friction between fan blades causing the back of the Neo to get hot
  • Rough seams around the case
  • Poor printing of the labels on buttons

AYA says it’s addressed those issues through a redesigned frame, case, and buttons as well as improved color calibration for the display.

The new design involves a more uniform seam between the top and bottom portions of the case, buttons that incorporate the labels directly in the mold rather than having it painted on, and the company is retooling the D-Pad and controller buttons with new ones that will be more durable, include an improved feel, and have labels that shouldn’t fade.

The company has also added analog shoulder buttons, updated the vibration motor, and improved the audio experience with a new speaker and a larger sound chamber inside the case.

Aya says it’s also replaced the Intel AX200 wireless card with a MediaTek module, not because one is necessarily better than the other, but because the AX200 was out of stock. Other changes include updates to the aluminum frame and heat dissipation.

Folks who order a new AYA Neo handheld gaming PC for $925 and up will get the updated hardware, while those who backed the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and received an early unit have the option of upgrading their own devices.

The DIY upgrade its come with a new screen, frame, buttons, speakers, cooling module, and PCB for the joysticks. Retro Game Handhelds got an early look at a beta version of the upgrade kit, and it looks pretty impressive:

Indiegogo backers will have a choice of having the upgrade kit shipped to them or shipping their devices back to AYA so that the company can perform the upgrade and send the upgraded units back to customers.

You’ll have to pay for shipping to and from China if you want AYA to do the upgrade, but it’s nice to have the option if you’re not comfortable following the company’s instructions for performing surgery on your own hardware.

AYA is also working on a docking station for the Neo that supports HDMI output to a 4K 60Hz monitor, has a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB Type-C ports, and two USB Type-A ports for connecting speakers, storage, keyboards, mice, or other peripherals.

The dock isn’t available just yet, but AYA released some photos of an early 3D-printed sample made this summer, showing the dock in action.

 

There are also SD and microSD card readers on the side that you can use for removable storage. And since the dock is designed to connect to the bottom of the computer, the USB-C ports and headphone jack on top of the Neo are still accessible when the computer is docked.

You can find more details in the updates posted to the AYA Neo Indiegogo campaign page.

This article was originally published June 30, 2021 and last updated November 11, 2021. 

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  1. Wow, free upgrade kits. I have to say, AYA is becoming the best of the current 3 PC handheld companies in terms of post-sales support and transparency. GPD is the worst one.

    Too bad for me, I really want a physical keyboard to make the $1k USD worth it by having a multi-purpose handheld. For now, I’m typing this on my OneGx1 Pro 4G while connected 4G (I hope I don’t have issues that needs contacting One Netbook).

    1. Meanwhile, GPD is still knowingly sending some Win 3’s with
      1. Older Wi-Fi 5 chips.
      2. Broken mouse/gamepad switches.
      3. Broken touch screens.
      4. Broken rumble.
      5. Pre-installed malware.
      6. Broken SSDs.
      7. Several other HW issues.

      Plus, GPD is not doing much about it. Sometimes the GPD representatives literally laugh at the affected users with laughing emojis or text.

    2. I’ve only dealt with trying to get support from One Netbook and GPD. Both are horrible.

      I have yet to get a response from One Netbook either via email or the rep in the One Netbook Discord (other than “will ask the engineer” and then nothing).

      GPD will respond but the responses sometimes aren’t much better than just ignoring you. On social media, the GPD rep sometimes even attacks the customers. Sometimes they do provide an okay solution if you’re fine with them sending you parts for you to fix things yourself. They’ve never agreed to a refund nor device replacement.

    3. Check out Taki Udon’s video on Windows 11 running on the Aya Neo. The new Windows 11 touch keyboard is so much better now. All the new touch / tablet improvements they’ve added makes Windows 11 completely navigable via touch, so there’s less need of a keyboard now. That said, I think there will be other physical Keyboard solutions, like Bluetooth keyboard folio cases and the like.

  2. It’d be nice if the next version of the AYA NEO has a keyboard attachment like the Surface tablets. Hopefully better than the one for the ONEXPLAYER (plus too large of a handheld for my liking). Still hard for me to justify ~1k USD for a gaming handheld so doubling as a PC would make that easier to swallow.

    1. Typing this on my OneGx1 Pro 4G that I got last week. Being able to use this as a UMPC with 4G is great. Removing the controllers for PC only mode is nice too.

      I hope the next OneGx1 has a swivel hinge like the A1 and keeps the 4G option. To me, that’d be the best form factor for a UMPC + gaming handheld.

      1. I recently got the OneGx1 Pro with LTE too. The modem they use is on the slower end though. I get 10 – 20 Mbps down while my 4 year old iPhone next to it gets 60 – 90 Mbps down. At least the modem works well in Linux which has been hit or miss for me on past devices.

        Really hope the next Gx does get an A1-like swivel screen to make it easily switch between PC and gaming form factors easily.

      2. Typing this on my OneGx1 Pro while connected to LTE too!

        I got it based on Brad’s review of the non-Pro model and how well it ran Linux. Thanks Brad! It has a different modem as the review model but it still works on a fresh Linux install.

        I agree, having a swivel screen for handheld gaming would make the OneGx1 even better.

        1. 4 in a row! I’ve got a gx1 pro and reading all of these reports about hardware problems on the GPD and Aya devices makes me sure that One Netbook are way ahead of them in regards to QA – and something that really matters when you’re importing from China.

          1. I used to be very happy with 1netbook products as well – I had the OneMix Yoga 2s, the Yoga 3 Pro and got the Yoga 4 on pre-order March.
            Unfortunately, on the 4 the touch screen developed ghost touches that made the device completely unusable by July. Their customer service advised me to send it to them (on my own costs, fair enough), which I did in mid-July. Had various annoyances with getting the device shipped to them. They weren’t happy having to pay customs, although I had asked them how to declare value and followed their instruction of declaring full value. So the device was in China after 2 days, but then was stuck in customs for 2-3 weeks and I had to phone after UPS to change the customs declaration! Then they wanted me to pay 100$ for the replacement screen because I had opened the device (I needed to get to the hard drive to get to my data, apparently they don’t like that). After lots of miscommunication (or lack of communication), they seem to have eventually fixed it and allegedly are sending it back, although I still haven’t got any more detailed information. The device has been gone for almost 4 months at this point (and counting) – quite a turnaround time for this kind of “service”.
            So after this, I’ll be very wary of buying another product from them. A shame really, since I generally like the hardware.

  3. “buttons that incorporate the labels directly in the mold rather than having it painted on”

    Neat, I wonder if they mean these will be made using a “double-shot injection” method, meaning that the label will actually be it’s own piece of injection molded plastic that runs through the button.

    This is one of the most expensive ways to manufacture plastic buttons with labels. The label can never wear off. There would be a visible label on the button even if you wore through the entire button.

  4. That’s nice for later units.

    Although, for their and customers’ sake, I hope they don’t make any more hardware changes and just incorporate changes into future retail/refreshed units and/or the next generation device.

    There’s a big risk in changing hardware this late in the process. They could fail to make the changes adequately, continuously delay shipping, lose enough resources to be unable to go into mass production and/or be forced to ship an even buggier device.

    1. Yeah, all too often I read about crowdfunding campaigns keep getting delayed due to making things “perfect” and sometimes end up not delivering anything because they used up all the money and unable to get additional external funding.

      At least they did deliver the initial batch. I’ve mostly read good things since not everyone has the issues described in this article which is a good sign. Let’s hope they don’t keep trying to improve things and just deliver the rest after this set of fixes/improvements.

      1. Agreed, sometimes you have to just push out what you have and refine over time. My biggest issue with the AYA was not using the 5500U, going with a 720P screen instead of Full HD, and not having some sort of accessory keyboard that integrates into the lines of the device when installed. The pre-order price was acceptable given the initial specs but is currently far too expensive at MSRP for what is being offered. Again if this had the 5500U or a 4800U then I would still consider it good value despite the flaws. I guess there’s always version 2.

    2. Let’s hope these changes go smoothly. I’ve been reading about the AYA NEO for a while and it seems like a great gaming only handheld.

      It’s nice that the CEO and AYA are fairly transparent and keep people updated. Although, Arthur’s posts (essays?) could use a lot of trimming down and just get to the point. He adds a lot of flowery sentences and also takes frequent jabs at the “previous” people before he became CEO and he’s going to fix “their” mistakes. Comes off kind of negative.

    3. At least they’re communicating clearly. GPD doesn’t say anything or flat out lie plus they effectively tell customers with defective units to go pound sand. One Netbook doesn’t say much either. We’ll see how the OneXPlayer goes and how they handle units with issues (at least a small percentage should probably have issues).

      I currently have a OneGx1 Pro LTE this generation and haven’t had to contact One Netbook for any issues (yet). However, I’ll probably look at AYA’s next device given how they’re trying to fix issues with shipped/future units and comparatively much more transparent.

      Definitely going to pass on anything from GPD though (what a terrible company). Good thing there are alternatives now.