There’s yet another company looking to get into the increasingly-crowded handheld gaming PC space. And, at least on paper, the upcoming NanoPlay handheld seems to hit a right of the right points. What remains to be seen is whether it will be competitive with bigger names in this space like Valve, Asus and Lenovo when it comes to bang for the buck.
While the makers of the NanoPlay say backers of an upcoming Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign will be able to reserve the handheld for a pledge of $499 and up, it’s unclear what the retail price will be. Update: As of October 20, 2023 the NanoPlay website appears to be down, but the Kickstarter preview page is still live. Make of that what you will.
The handheld is said to feature a 7 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display with a 165 Hz refresh rate ant 100% sRGB and DC-P3 color gamut, 16GB of LPDDR5x-8533 memory, and 512GB to 4TB of PCIe 5.0 NVMe storage, courtesy of an M.2 2280 SSD.
At the heart of the system is an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor (the same chip used in higher-priced configurations of the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go), with 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and 12 RDNA 3 GPU compute units.
Other features include two USB4 ports with support for 40 Gbps connections, two 20 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, two 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader.
The handheld has a 48 Wh battery and comes with a 65W charger, supports WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, and runs Windows 11 software.
It has fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, a fan for “PC grade cooling” and integrated game controllers with dual Alps analog sticks, a D-Pad, shoulder triggers and an unusual looking set of action buttons that look more like arrow keys than the usual round buttons.
The computer measures 260 x 105 x 31mm (10.2″ x 4.1″ x 1.2″) and weighs 700 grams (1.54 pounds).
Interestingly, the folks behind the NanoPlay are positioning the handheld as a “hybrid” solution that could be used as a 2-in-1 device for gaming or work, by pairing the handheld with a Bluetooth keyboard. And that’s technically true. But it’s also true of every handheld gaming PC that runs Windows or Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS.
If the NanoPlay had shown up a year or two ago, I would have said it almost looks too good to be true: a handheld gaming PC with a processor that offers performance on the same level as the Ryzen 7 7840U for $499 and up during crowdfunding? Sign me up.
But with Valve, Asus, and Lenovo offering competitive models for prices starting at $399, $600, and $700, it’s going to be tough for any new company to make a name for itself in the handheld game.