The AYA Neo is a handheld gaming computer with a 7 inch touchscreen display and built-in game controllers. It looks a bit like a Nintendo Switch, but the controllers are not detachable and under the hood beats the heart of a Windows PC including an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor with Radeon Vega 6 graphics, 16GB of RAM, and support for up to 1TB of PCIe NVMe solid state storage.
First announced last year, a limited number of AYA Neo Founder edition computers have already shipped to customers in China. Now AYA is taking pre-orders from international customers through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
The first 42 folks to snag a “super early bird” reward level were able to reserve an AYA Neo with 512GB of storage for $699. But those sold out within seconds of the campaign going live, so most backers have these choices:
- AYA Neo 512GB (black case only) for $789
- AYA Neo 1TB (black or white case options) for $869
At that price, the AYA Neo is priced rather competitively with GPD’s Win 3 handheld gaming PC, which was available for pre-order for $799 and up during a crowdfunding campaign that just ended (but you can still pre-order one for $849 and up through Indiegogo InDemand).
today. GPD’s system has a smaller display, a slider-style design that lets you push the screen upward to reveal a capacitive touch keyboard, and the little computer is powered by an Intel Tiger Lake processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics.
When I reviewed the Win 3, I was impressed with the performance offered by this tiny gaming computer, but extremely disappointed with its keyboard. Ultimately I wouldn’t call the keyboard a selling point since it’s inferior to an on-screen keyboard in many respects. So ultimately the choice between an AYA Neo and a GPD Win 3 largely boils down to your personal preferences for screen size, processor and graphics, and price.
Here’s a run-down of some key specs for AYA’s Neo handheld gaming PC:
|Display||7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 4500U 6-core/6-thread|
|GPU||AMD Radeon Vega 6|
|RAM||16GB DDR4-4266 LPDDR4X|
|Storage||512GB or 1TB PCIe NVMe (M.2 2280)|
|Power||12,300 mAh, 47 Whr battery|
65 W fast charging
|USB Ports||3 x USB-C Gen 2 (10 Gbps)|
2 x 8mm copper heat pipes
|Other||Built-in game controllers|
|Dimensions||255mm x 106mm x 20mm|
|Weight||650 grams (~1.4 pounds)|
AYA has also revealed that it will offer a series of optional add-on accessories for the AYA Neo. Here are their prices during crowdfunding:
- Docking Station with USB, HDMI, and Ethernet ports for $47
- Carrying case for $22.90
- AYA grip handles for $9.90
- Joystick caps for $4.90
- Tempered glass screen protector for $4.90
The AYA Neo’s game controllers include a D-Pad, two analog sticks, X,Y, A, and B buttons, clickable L3 and R3 shoulder buttons, and support for rumble feedback, and a set of four extra buttons on the left and right sides that you can use for:
Left controller buttons:
- RGB key (adjust lighting effects for the RGB lights inside the controllers)
- Xbox home key
- Xbox Select
- Xbox Start
Right controller buttons:
- Windows key
- Ctrl+Alt-Del key
- Esc key
- Show or hide an on-screen keyboard key
Those extra buttons should come in handy since the Neo is a Windows computer that doesn’t have a physical keyboard that you can use to trigger those actions while running games in a full-screen window. Of course you can also connect a wired or wireless keyboard to play games or run applications that need QWERTY key input that might be difficult to map onto the device’s controller buttons.
AYA says the units that will ship to backers of the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign incorporate some hardware and software improvements when compared with the limited edition Founder devices that shipped to early adopters in China. Among other things, the weight has been reduced, the game controllers have been improved with better force actuation and feedback, the rumble motor has been improved (and can now be turned on or off via a key combination), and software updates have been made to improve performance of Windows, PC games, and display quality (some games had previously been blurry when running in full screen).
This article was originally published March 5, 2021 and last updated March 6, 2021.
No physical thumb keyboard so pass. Too bad the Win 3 doesn’t have one either as far as I’m concerned so passing on that too.
Form factor wise and ignoring the QC/build issues of the Win 2, it has a much better handheld gaming/UMPC balance than this generation of devices. At least that’s the case for how I use the Win 2.
Almost there, going to hold out for a Rembrandt-based one. That is, if they do make a second gen version.
Well, good luck to them. I hope they read https://www.notebookcheck.net/GPD-Win-3-Review-The-Unofficial-Microsoft-Switch.514859.0.html and won’t be making the same mistakes (e.g., lame puny rumble motors).
For those who want a real keyboard, have you considered the GPD Win Max?
I’ll consider buying one of these as a late adopter, if things look good after the backers receive theirs.
This is the perfect form factor for me. The only 2 bits of criticism I have are:
There’s no kickstand.
The USB placement isn’t very ideal for someone who will be placing it in some kind of 3rd party stand/cradle, unless it’s designed specifically to provide a USB-C connector in the exact spot.
I’m coming from a Win 2 so neither the Win 3 nor the AYA NEO are from me due to the lack of a decent physical keyboard.
However, I wish the AYA folks good luck. They’re probably the first to produce and release (at least to local Chinese customers) an AMD powered gaming PC handheld. GPD tried to use and AMD chip on their Win Max but they failed and fell back to Intel.
It seems their IGG is going very well so far in terms of backers.
One GX1 Pro is for you, then.
I’ll be sticking with my Win 2 for now. I hope it lasts. I want a physical keyboard and the Win Max is just large enough to be too large.
I’m not opposed to a slider form factor of the Win 3 but GPD’s execution of it is horrible. The Win 3 is a dud.
The OneGx1 Pro isn’t too large but One Netbook thinks they can charge a premium for it. They seem to forget their company’s name has “Netbook” in it and they don’t have a brand name that warrants premium pricing.
The Win 2 should be fine for smaller Indie games and Geforce Now streaming; so you could still use it to buy AAA games on Steam/PC, but stream them via the Geforce Now client, if you wish.
But are you really going to use the keyboard all that much? Most people are fine with software keyboards on phones. Criticisms aside, the Win 3’s keyboard is definitely better than using a software keyboard. So it should be fine for basic texting, and the kind of portable messaging you would normally do on the go, on a phone.
You said the Win Max is too large, but it’s designed for actual finger/touch typing, albeit very cramped typing. Realistically, any device that’s smaller is for thumb / phone style typing; you’re not going to be typing out high WPM essays on either the Win 2 or Win 3, nor would you use them for WSAD gaming controls.
That said, what if someone made a Keyboard attachment for the Aya Neo, where it doubles as a case cover? Would that interest you?
Thumb typing on the Win 2 is far far far better than an on screen keyboard. I use the Win 2 for more than gaming and I’m not even talking about “productivity” for whatever that means to people who use that word.
Brad and other prototype reviewers pretty much say the Win 3’s capacitive keyboard is much worse than the on screen keyboard.
The Win Max is too large for my wants. Doesn’t matter if it has a keyboard or not.
I never understood people’s comparisons with phones and the Win 2/3. Any sort of comparison just doesn’t make sense to me. A phone is phone. A PC is a PC.
TLDR: I have different expectations/uses from a handheld/thumb use Windows gaming UMPC from you. I’m not looking for a gaming only device. Especially at these high prices.
I’m not comparing it to a PC, I’m saying the keyboard, even on the Win 3, is technically better than an on-screen phone keyboard on a phone. Billions of people use software keyboards every day for mobile messaging, so the Win 3’s keyboard should be perfectly fine in that regards.
But the use-case for these devices is mainly just to play GamePad-specific PC games portably; the keyboard is typically just there for when you need it for a few things.
It’s really not though. It’s innacurate and requires you to often try typing the same character repeatedly, especially if you’re trying to hit shirt or ctrl + another character. There’s no autocorrect like you would get with an on screen keyboard an no tactile feedback like you’d get from one with phsycial keys. It’s kind of the worst of all worlds and I’d rather use an on screen keyboard most of the time, even if it means covering up part of the display.
Still, realistically, the target audience for this device, and even the people complaining about the Win 3’s keboard, aren’t going to use the keyboard all that much. It’s there for when you really need to hit a certain key on the keyboard during gameplay, or for the rare occasion of changing a few settings in a text file, etc.
But I do see your point, especially about the lack of an on-screen auto-correct, etc, and in that case, I would agree that an onscreen keyboard actually is better than the Win 3’s. So I think Aya did the right thing and just omitted a keyboard altogether in favour of a software keyboard and dedicate buttons for Escape, Windows, Task Manager, etc.
And if you really need a physical keyboard for the Aya Neo, I’m sure some company could design a case cover with an integrated keyboard for the device, either a via bluetooth or some sort of wired USB connection.
The early bird price was only for first 42 backers and despite being ready it rejected my payment the first time and second time well it was gone. So I had to go with 512 GB model. I am looking forward to it early May and mostly looking to put sone emulators on it and may be some old gamea from gog.com
I feel the AYA Neo has the better gaming handheld form factor than the Win 3. Real-world performance would be the same too.
GPD really messed up the Win 3 form factor. They ditched the PC use case but then also made the gaming use case worse.
I feel the same. The Win 3 could have been a great upgrade from the Win 2 for me but they turned an okay idea (slider) into a failed execution (capacitive touch keyboard).
The AYA Neo is no-go for me due to no keyboard.
Looks like I won’t be buying a Windows gaming handheld this year.
Who is the mainstream PC manufacturer that announced plans recently to develop something similar to these handheld PCs?
I found it. Lenovo LaVie Mini concept.
Oh it uses an Intel CPU, that’s probably how I missed it.
I believe Razer had a product in development called the UFO. I think the project was cancelled but I could be thinking of something else.
That was Dell/Alienware. It hasn’t officially been cancelled, but it also hasn’t been released yet, so for now it’s still a “concept.”
Thanks for the heads up. I guess we’ll see what comes of it. I’m sure a ton of projects are on hold given the current shortages.
I think the early bird price is the sweet spot for this hardware so I guess time will tell how many takers they have at the higher price points.
Not me, I can’t justify the price when I could get a full laptop for less with a better processor, bigger screen etc.
Shame as I love the idea and would love one if my job let’s me start travelling again.
Under ideal conditions I’d agree with you. At $689 I can see many people being able to justify it because of the form factor and low production volume. The current prices are quite ridiculous IMO and I was surprised at the number of people who were paying the higher price until I saw the interview video with Uncle A. While I still think $599 should have actually been the launch point, AYA has been getting orders because the target audience is wealthier than average, has a valid use case for this form factor, and currently has fewer entertainment options competing for their money.
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