AYANEO has released a lot of handheld gaming PCs over the last few years, but most have prioritized performance over affordability. The new AYANEO Next Lite takes a different approach: it’s expected to sell for $299 and up
during crowdfunding, making it one of the most affordable options available. Update: AYANEO is skipping crowdfunding: the AYANEO Next Lite is available directly from the company’s website.
When the company first announced the AYANEO Next Lite earlier this month, it explained that one way it had planned to keep the price low was by shipping the system with a Linux-based operating system rather than Windows. But now AYANEO has changed course and announced that the AYANEO Next Lite will ship with Windows 11 Home Edition pre-installed, although the company will offer a Linux image for users who would prefer a different OS.
According to AYANEO, the only thing that’s changing is the operating system that comes pre-installed. The handheld is still expected to feature a 7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD display, an AMD Ryzen 4000U processor with Radeon Vega graphics, 16GB of RAM, support for up to 512GB of storage, a 47 Wh battery, and support for WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 as well as three USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio jack.
But the company had initially said that the Next Lite would ship with SteamOS… and then clarified that it wasn’t running an official build of the Linux-based operating system developed for the Steam Deck, but rather an unofficial build based on the open source HoloISO project.
That… was an interesting choice, to say the least. HoloISO hasn’t been updated in months, and may be abandoned, which led many observers to wonder why AYANEO didn’t at least opt for a more actively maintained project like ChimeraOS.
But more importantly, installing a third-party version of SteamOS is one thing if you’re an end user. It’s quite another for a hardware company to tap an unofficial build of Valve’s operating system to be the default OS for a consumer product. While AYANEO says it’s “adapted” HoloISO to ensure compatibility with the AYANEO Next Lite, it’s unclear what kind of long term software support the company was prepared to offer, or whether users would get the rapid bug fixes, feature updates, and game compatibility improvements that Valve regularly rolls out for the Steam Deck.
So moving to Windows is probably a good move. Windows isn’t exactly optimized for handheld gaming PCs that typically lack physical keyboards, but at least users are less likely to run into game compatibility issues.
But it also makes the AYANEO Next Lite less distinctive from the competition. The only thing really setting it apart at this point are its low price tag and its 4-year-old processor that will probably offer worse-than-Steam Deck level gaming performance.
|AYA Neo Next Lite specs
|AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
6 Zen 2 cores / 12 threads
2.3 GHz base / 4 GHz max boost
Radeon Vega 6 graphics @ up to 1.5 GHz
10 – 25W TDP
|AMD Ryzen 7 4800U
8 Zen 2 cores / 16 threads
1.8 GHz base / 4.2 GHz max boost
Radeon Vega 8 graphics @ up to 1.75 GHz
10 – 25W TDP
|128GB / 512GB
M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 SSD
M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 SSD
1280 x 800 pixels
|2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (full function)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (data only)
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Dual copper heat pipes
“PC grade” fan
|Controllers, sensors & motors
|Hall sensor joysticks
Hall sensor triggers
Dual X-axis linear motor
|Windows 11 64-bit Home Edition
HoloISO image available for download (3rd-party, open source SteamOS build optimized by AYA Neo for the Next Lite)
|267 x 112 x 22-30mm