Chinese handheld gaming PC maker AYA has unveiled yet another new model coming to the company’s growing lineup of portable gaming devices.

The AYA Neo Next II has a few features that make it stand out from the rest though.

First, in addition to D-Pads, analog sticks, action buttons, and shoulder buttons, the AYA Neo Next II has two built-in touchpads. The only other modern handheld PC maker to include touchpads at the moment is Valve, which uses them for its Steam Deck.

Touchpads theoretically open the door to playing games that were designed for keyboard and mouse input rather than controllers. They could also make it a bit easier to navigate Windows or Linux-based operating systems without a mouse. But despite the Steam Deck’s popularity, I’ve seen mixed opinions on whether the touchpads are actually all that helpful.

Another thing that sets the AYA Neo Next II apart? It’s designed with support for discrete graphics.

While initially it had looked like that meant that the little computer would be designed with support for external graphics docks, that wouldn’t actually be much of a distinguishing feature. Theoretically any handheld game system with a Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 port with support for 40 Gbps data  should also be able to work with external graphics docks.

AYA CEO Arthur Zhang says the Neo Next II will go a step further than that though, by offering a laptop-class discrete GPU. The company hasn’t finalized exactly how it will do that yet, but there are two possibilities that AYA is considering:

  • One option would be a laptop-like discrete GPU positioned on the motherboard along with the CPU. This model would be a bit heavier than most handhelds and would have a removable battery, allowing users to choose between heavier/higher-capacity batteries or thinner, lighter batteries for more portability (but less run time).
  • Another option would be a removable module that includes both a battery and a discrete graphics card. Basically pop the battery off the back of the AYA Neo Next II and replace it with a dGPU module when you want extra gaming power or use the original battery when internal graphics is good enough.

AYA is apparently considering using Intel Arc graphics and AMD Radeon 6000 series graphics for its discrete GPUs. And while the company hasn’t finalized the details yet, Zhang says the Neo Next II isn’t a “concept device,” but something that AYA actually plans to bring to market.

But this does open the door toward using the handheld gaming PC as your only gaming PC. Hook it up to an external GPU and display while gaming from home for the best experience. Or unplug it and take it with you for lower-resolution, lower-quality gaming on the go.

AYA has suggested that the Neo Next II will be available with a choice of Intel Alder Lake or AMD Ryzen 7 6000U processor options, although the company hasn’t revealed specific chips yet.

While AYA has already shipped a couple of handheld gaming PCs including the AYA Neo and AYA Neo Next, the company’s roadmap for the coming year is looking very ambitious, with the recent announcements of upcoming models including:

That’s a lot of devices. AYA says the goal is to cater to the different needs/requests of different gamers. And indeed, this lineup means the company is promising to deliver a wide variety of products at different price points, some of which have unusual features to help them stand out in the increasingly crowded handheld gaming PC market.

But it’s pretty odd to see a company that has only delivered a few products to date announce so many new models in the span of a month or two.

Update: This article originally suggested that the AYA Neo Next II would support an eGPU (external graphics dock), but AYA CEO Arthur Zhang says that was a mistranslation and that the company is actually planning to bring discrete graphics to the handheld PC itself. 

via AYA (YouTube & Weibo)

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    1. There was a render of the bottom edge with the lid closed. Not much other than that.

      If it has a thumb keyboard and pocketable like the Win 2, I’d get it over the Slide. Otherwise, the Slide is looking like it’d be my next handheld.

  1. I have a Deck and I can’t justify to myself to get any other slate handheld even if it has better specs because Valve’s behind it. Even more so with the Next II.

    However, with the Slide or maybe the Flip depending on more info, I can justify to myself getting one of them. Especially if they’re at least jacket pocketable for easier grab and go type of handheld.

    1. I’m definitely more interested in the Slide and Flip than any of Ayaneo’s other handhelds.

    1. I’d be pleasantly surprised if they ship all Slide preorders this year. An initial small batch to say they shipped in Q4 2022 could be stretch too.

      I do like what’s known about the Slide so far.

  2. With the number of AYA concepts on the horizon, I fear that AYA could go the same route as GPD. Just make a ton of niche products that never get any long term investment into design or reliability.

    My comment probably doesn’t belong with this specific product, because this one is less unique than their recent clamshell and slider concepts.

    The problem that I think this has created for GPD is that every product spends little time on the market. No product remains in their lineup long enough for them to even hear any reports of issues. And also, it leaves the community with little visibility into how well their products are working before they choose to buy them.

    So far, AYN seems to be one of the better brands for this. They have one design concept. While their lineup does vary in size, they aren’t jumping from a clamshell design, to a slider design, etc.

    1. I’d flip to the Flip from the Slide if it had a thumb keyboard or, if it has a 7″ screen (I believe the 7″ spec from that retro something site had no reliable source per the Aya Discord), a touch type keyboard even if cramp.

      Definitely look forward to more Slide and Flip info.
      As a Deck owner, they’re the only devices I’d be willing to buy in addition to the Deck.

    1. If the Slide has 4G and it worked with Verizon in the US, then I’d definitely go for that option. The Slide seems pretty portable. May even be jacket pocketable for easier grab and go for hybrid gaming and UMPC use cases.

    2. I would totally get LTE. The awkward joint pain inducing Win Max 2 will have LTE but I hear it won’t work well or not at all with US carriers.

  3. And they’re going to kill themselves like this. They’re stretching themselves far too thin by having too many models, and knowing Aya they’re likely using these to justify having stupidly high prices for the more “premium” models. Also, with the NEXT II, it’s obvious they don’t understand why the Deck’s controls work; Aya’s layout here is purely atrocious.

    1. Indeed – why not just use left and right zones on the touchscreen instead of discrete thumb pads? Alternatively, touchpads on the back-side of the device, say, within reach of the index or ring fingers might work just as well.

      1. This isn’t what he was talking about you dingus… -_- … Good touchpads should be basically mandatory on any quality PC handheld (only people arguing otherwise haven’t tried to use Windows for ex without a proper mouse). He doesn’t think the trackpads should be removed, he thinks the overall placement of everything isn’t as good as on Deck.

        1. The ideas were to effectively relocate them to regions of the touch screen or to the rear of the device.

          Most (all?) of the other handheld device manufacturers must not consider left and right touchpads to be as necessary as you are suggesting. I can count with one thumb how many devices offer such a feature. 👍 Not bad for a dingus, eh?

          What is Windows?

    1. I’m only interested in the Slide right now too. I’m not sure if I’m interested in the Flip yet.

      Would be nice if they have an LTE option that works in the US. I’d get that.