While the Switch is selling briskly, there are many who feel the hardware is in need of a power boost – which is why rival handhelds like Valve’s Steam Deck have attracted so much interest. While these portable PCs cost more than Nintendo’s machine, they offer impressive technical specs – and this has predictably led some people to ponder what a Switch successor could look like.
Chinese firm Aya Neo has already released other Windows-based portable PCs, but its latest effort is notable for being much smaller than other products of this kind; in fact, it’s around the same size as the Switch Lite. Our sister site Time Extension has gone hands-on with the device – which is currently doing the rounds on the crowdfunding circuit – and has come away suitably impressed by it, with some caveats.
On the plus side, the design is easily the best to come out of Aya Neo so far, with fancy LED lights and superb build quality. The analogue inputs are based on ‘Hall effect’ sensors, which means there are no moving parts inside to wear down – so, in theory, controller drift won’t happen. The OLED panel is also fantastic, although Time Extension notes that its 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution is rather wasted as you’ll need to play all but the least demanding games in 720p to avoid draining the battery too quickly.
Alas, stamina is the Aya Neo Air’s biggest weakness; if you’re super careful about what games you play then you could potentially get somewhere close to three hours on a single charge, but most of the time you’ll be rushing to the wall socket after just over an hour of gameplay. This illustrates one of the key sticking points of portable gaming right now; it’s hard to make a handheld console more powerful than the Switch because battery life is going to suffer as a result. The Steam Deck also has the same problem, to a much lesser extent than the Aya Neo Air. Nintendo’s handheld may be less powerful than its fancy competitors, but it strikes a good balance between power and battery life thanks to its mobile-focused Tegra chipset.
So, is the Aya Neo Air a rival to the Switch? Perhaps not, especially with its lofty price tag of around £500 / $600, but if you’re in the market for a Steam Deck-style device but want something more portable (with an OLED panel to boot), then it is perhaps worth a look.