When you’ve been following the hand held PC craze of late, you’ll realize it’s a really kinetic class. And with ASUS throwing its hat within the ring, anticipate to see much more gaming handhelds attempting to steal a little bit of the Steam Deck’s lunch. Ayaneo, a comparatively unknown participant simply a few years in the past, has turn out to be one of many extra prolific names on this house and its latest handheld – the Air Plus – is its newest effort to tempt people over to the nice and cozy waters of transportable PC gaming.
If the Air Plus appears acquainted, that’s as a result of it’s the third iteration of Ayaneo’s “Air” collection and it comes with a selection of both AMD or Intel chipsets. The mannequin we’re right here has the Ryzen 6800U processor which means it’s technically similar to the Ayaneo 2 we reviewed in Spring. Why make two handhelds with very comparable specs? As a result of many individuals need the efficiency of the Ayaneo 2 in a extra transportable formfactor. Whereas each are transportable within the broadest sense of the phrase, the Air Plus is a shade smaller than a Nintendo Swap (albeit considerably thicker), in contrast to the Ayaneo 2 which has a profile nearer to the Steam Deck.
We must always make clear proper up prime that this era of Home windows-based gaming handhelds don’t come low-cost. Whereas the bottom/64GB Steam Deck prices $400, the entry stage Ayaneo Air Plus will set you again $790 for early birds earlier than it retails for $979. That’s a lot extra money – even should you selected the Steam Deck with the identical inner storage (512GB), that will nonetheless solely price $649. That mentioned, lots of people actually don’t like the dimensions and weight of Valve’s handheld and respect the additional flexibility and energy most of those options provide. The success of Ayaneo’s last Indiegogo campaign tells us there’s an urge for food for these units regardless.
Whereas dimension is a key promoting level right here (the Steam Deck is over 2 inches wider and an inch taller), maybe extra importantly, Valve’s handheld is over 5oz (145g) heavier. That additional heft does enable for extra controls — there are not any touchpads or rear buttons right here. That mentioned, the Ayaneo sneaks in a number of intelligent controls alongside the highest and on the decrease edge for duties like citing the onscreen keyboard or leaping out of Ayaspace to the desktop. The Air Plus additionally sports activities two USB-C ports which opens up the likelihood to make use of peripherals similtaneously charging it.
The Air Plus isn’t fairly a straight processor improve from the Air Professional — there’s additionally a bigger battery (46.2Wh up from the Professional’s 38Wh and the unique Air’s 28Wh), together with a brand new 6-inch 1080p show. There are additionally another minor beauty tweaks that put the facility button and headphone jack on the left and proper respectively – the inverse of the fashions earlier than them. The Plus can be about half an inch (13mm) wider than the unique Air and Air Professional, which implies should you had a case for a kind of, it received’t match the brand new mannequin, sorry.
The primary time you activate the Ayaneo Plus, you’ll undergo a minor little bit of Home windows setup. After that you just’ll be dumped into Ayaspace, the corporate’s launcher that’s designed to make the expertise really feel a bit extra like a console than a tiny PC. It’s price stating that Ayaspace is purposeful however you’ll usually end up coping with Home windows. Navigating it’s straightforward sufficient, with the left analog stick controlling the mouse aided by a bodily shortcut button up prime that brings up the on-screen keyboard. However it’s additionally not the smoothest expertise should you’re coming over from one thing just like the Steam Deck.
For essentially the most half, compatibility with the Air Plus ought to be higher than that of Valve’s rival, simply by advantage of it operating vanilla Home windows. And as true as that’s, you possibly can nonetheless end up hitting a number of bugs and glitches. Once I put in Pink Useless Redemption 2 (RDR2) I needed to google round to learn how to enter full display screen mode (trace: change the graphics API in superior settings to DirectX 12). Once I tried to put in Hotline Miami, I used to be prompted to put in the .NET framework, which is about as enjoyable because it sounds after which it loaded in a window far too massive for the show (utilizing Ayaspace’s decision picker after which alt-tabbing out and again into the sport mounted).
Quirks like this are positively the exception not the rule, however widespread sufficient that should you’re on the lookout for that devoted gaming console expertise, know that it’s not fairly there but. You’ll be able to disable Ayaspace if you want and use one thing like Steam’s Massive Image mode if that’s the place your video games are. You could possibly additionally simply launch issues proper from the desktop, too. However for all its shortcomings, Ayaspace does have some helpful options and is a good expertise most of the time. Some industrious people have even managed to get SteamOS operating on Ayaneo units, however the compromises nonetheless don’t make it a pretty different. In any case, when you’re in a recreation you quickly overlook concerning the OS behind it.
Nevertheless you get there, as soon as launched, every part look nice on the 6-inch IPS show. It’s a disgrace that it’s not an OLED panel just like the one on the Air Professional, however the bigger dimension greater than makes up for it, and it’s good and vibrant with a good distinction ratio and coloration copy. Aspect by facet with the equally-sized show on the Ayn Odin, the 2 are fairly shut, however the Ayaneo is a bit more vibrant.
I’ve been chipping away at Disco Elysium for too lengthy now, however having the prospect to convey it with me on my travels with the Air Plus has exponentially elevated my play time. Whereas it’s not essentially the most processor-intensive recreation, its distinctive artwork model appears improbable right here, and it runs at a full 60 fps at720p utilizing simply 10W TDP (thermal design energy) – broadly talking the setting that determines the quantity of energy you’re keen to provide to the CPU on the expense of battery life. With these settings I used to be usually getting about three hours of play time per cost.
With one thing extra intensive, like RDR2, you’ll should jack the TDP up because it received’t run easily at 10W. With medium settings and even simply 12 TDP I used to be having fun with 40-50 fps and about 2.5 hours of battery life. If I needed Arthur’s expeditions up into the snowy mountains to look additional slick, 15- or 20W TDP would make 1080p and 60 fps doable however with a extreme hit on play time – dropping all the way down to about 1.25 hours. This will attain again as much as 2 hours should you sacrifice both fps or drop again all the way down to 720p.
So yeah, that’s not a improbable outlook for extra demanding video games on increased settings, however with a number of minor concessions you possibly can nonetheless have an awesome expertise, one that may see you thru an excellent chunk of a flight or kill a lazy afternoon with out having to hangout close to an outlet. When you’re into much less demanding video games like Persona 4 Golden or definitely issues like Hotline Miami, Trine or Celeste you possibly can probably get away with a decrease TDP and flirt with round 4 hours of play time. There’s sufficient anecdotal proof that the Steam Deck can usually run video games effectively at decrease TDPs, giving it longer play instances for sure titles, however both means these machines are all energy hungry proper now.
For the courageous, the Plus will go as much as a most of 28W TDP, which implies it may run various AAA titles at increased settings, however you’re going to need to try this whereas plugged in. And, arguably, that defeats half the aim of a conveyable machine. However if you wish to convey your video games with you once you journey, somewhat than depend on WiFi for streaming, or just choose to play on one thing like this even when at house on the sofa (which is me, to be truthful), that is clearly much less of a difficulty. Actually, proper now, one may argue that these handhelds are most tasty to these on the lookout for a hybrid choice that permits them to interrupt free from the PC even when that’s simply to play within the lounge and tackle the odd flight.
No matter your motives, should you’re excited by handheld gaming PCs, then the Air Plus is a reliable, if decadent different to the Steam Deck that provides usually increased efficiency. If Ayaneo can refine the software program expertise and, (no less than going ahead), the value, then this entire class may get much more attention-grabbing.