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AYA NEO Pro is not the future of Handhold Gaming

Published: 19th of February 2022

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You have tech channels like, for example; LinusTechTips, posting positive reviews of the AYA NEO Pro (2021). This is strange as reviews are meant to take more into account that just directly how good a product is.

There is one indirect (as in indirect to performance) factor that if reviewers like Linus Sebastian (as an example) were any good at their job. That would have led them telling their audience to avoid the AYA NEO Pro.

That indirect but extremely important factor is price. That is a problem when you consider that this console is a minimum of $1,215 (£905) before you include shipping or any taxes (on the import and any sales tax/vat). That price might not be an issue for someone who is wealthy, but for the average person, that is.

However, even the idea of whether the average person can afford does not get to the core of pricing issue. It is the price the average member of the public will spend on a handhold gaming device. I can tell you straight away that very few people will spend the amount that current handhold gaming computers are selling for.

The 3DO Problem

Influencers (and by extension, their fans) have this strange that just because the new-crop of handhold computers are more powerful than the Nintendo Switch. That the mainstream public will dump their existing consoles and handhold computers will be the future trend of portable gaming.

This mistake of thinking a new console magically “take-off”. Just because it is far-more powerful than the existing market leaders is a mistake common in the gaming industry.

As an example, in 1993, The 3DO Company launched a new game console (3DO Interactive Multiplayer) to compete with the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. The adverts used to promote that then new console, compared the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo to toys.

The processing and graphical ability (especially for rendering textured polygons) of the 3DO console beat both consoles by a large margin. The problem was the price.

The 3DO console launched at a suggested retail price of $699. Adjusting that for US inflation (from 1993 to 2021), that would be equivalent to launching a games console $1,348.

Very few people were interested in such an insane price for the console. Those “toys” (as 3DO compared the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo to), massively outsold it.

If a console is too expensive, the public will not purchase it in a large number. The public does not care if a console is more powerful or even the “total-cost-of-ownership”. Weather or not, that console is portable, want a console that is cheap to buy and has fun games to play.

Steam Deck and the Actual Future of Handhold Gaming

There is, however, an upcoming handhold that could “sow the seeds” for a revolution in portable gaming. That is the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck has several advantages over any of the AYA NEO models (and by extension, other handhold computers). The biggest one for mass-adoption is a lower price-point. As, the $399 (£349 in the UK) base model is just $50 more than the Nintendo Switch OLED.

The Steam deck will also have another vital advantage over its other handhold PC competition. That is a more “console-like” experience. On the Steam Deck, someone will be able to buy, download and play (a majority of) games from within the main graphical interface.

Another factor that will make the Steam Deck more “console-like” is the verification system. That system ensures that any game marked “verified” will run without issue on the Steam Deck. You might think that the other rival handhelds using Windows instead of Linux, would mean 100% game capability.

Yea, no.

“Capability” for handheld computers and video games is far-more complex than weather a video game will run on an operating system (though Windows 10/11 has its own capability issues with many games made more than a decade ago).

One extremely important thing to consider when talking about “capability” will be the control scheme the game itself uses. As they optimise many PC exclusive games for the classic Keyboard and Mouse combination. On the Steam Deck, you know if a game is “verified,” the controls included on the handheld work well with that video game. On other handheld gaming computers (such as the AYA NEO Pro), you hope that game will work correctly with the included controls.

The Actual Future of Handheld Gaming

The Steam Deck may be closer to a “console-like” experience than its rivals. Though, I don’t even see the Steam Deck as the future of portable gaming (saying as someone who put reservation for the unit last year). Seeing the progress made on emulating x86 instructions on ARM based CPUs. Makes me think that will we in the 1 to 3 years see many portable gaming devices with stronger ARM CPU (with AMD Graphics) that bundle the ability to play X86/X64 games alongside other emulators.

Think of something like Wine/DXVK for emulating Windows with BOX86/BOX64 to emulate the traditional instruction set. In fact, there are people who have run video games from the early to mid-2000s on a Raspberry Pi 4. A computer massively out-classed in performance by even budget smartphones.

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