Handheld or portable gaming consoles were all the rage in the 90s or early 2000s. Nintendo was arguably the first, mainstream company to cash in on an opportunity to bring players a portable solution for their game cravings by spewing forth the Nintendo Gameboy. This was soon followed by an upgraded iteration; the Gameboy Advance SP. Of course, Sony caught wind of this and came up with their own juggernaut, the PlayStation Portable. What followed was a hot competition between the two companies that benefitted gamers on an astronomical level.
Fast forward to 2023 and we apparently have a resurgence on our hands. Since home gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox have established themselves as kings of the game, companies like Steam and Logitech have come up with alternative ways to grab a good chunk of attention. It would not be wrong to say that 2023 will see a bunch of handheld consoles coming back into stores. And, we’re here to highlight the ones with the strongest potential.
All right, we get it; the Switch was the first to pop back into the handheld gaming nook. Nintendo realized that it couldn’t budge the big boys from their console wars so they instead came out with a modular console that not only connected to a screen but had its own screen to be used as a (semi?) handheld gaming device. The Joy Con controllers on the sides of this marvelous gizmo can be detached and used by one or two people, accordingly. The Switch was such a hit that Nintendo has righteously cashed in on its fame by pushing out the Lite and OLED versions.
This addition is what can be called an all-in-one. The Ayaneo 2 is essentially a gaming monitor packed into an 8.4-inch screen with a helpful bunch of controls on the sides. There’s a whopping AMD Ryzen 7 6800U CPU powering this bad boy meaning you could be playing five on five MOBAs and get zero lag as far as performance goes. However, you’d probably still want an internet connection that can sustain such a beast’s outclass performance. Check out wow internet services that guarantees a solid internet connection to keep your online gaming afloat, every time you log in.
The Ayaneo 2 drifts into stores at an eye-watering price of $949. Given its capability to run any current AAA game with ease, especially demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077, one could argue that this price is justified. If that’s not enough to sweeten the pot for you then keep on reading for some of the more affordable, wallet-friendly consoles in lieu.
Go ahead and check out what this cutie looks like before you read on. The Playdate is a unique take on handheld gaming devices solely because of its shape. Looking something like an old-school walkie-talkie, the Playdate promises original games to be played on its minimal, 16:10 ratio screen. Even though it’s a limited console at the time of this writing, we wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up steam quickly in the indie department with a slew of games like Chuhai Labs and Return of the Obra Dinn.
Grab yourself a Playdate at a reasonable price of $179 and woo your friends with its cute form factor and pop colors.
We couldn’t wrap up this article without mentioning the current OG of the handheld gaming revolution. The Steam Deck is Valve’s entry into mainstream console manufacturing. Its slab-like appearance with smooth edges is guaranteed to provide additional points to get you hooked on its massive collection of games that connect with Steam. The entire Steam library is accessible from the Steam Deck’s home screen and with a personalized AMD Zen 2 under the hood; there is no AAA title that cannot be played on its 7-inch LCD screen.
Honestly, there are a few issues with the Steam Deck right out of the box but given enough time to be ironed out by developers; this glorious slab could become the de facto leader of handheld consoles for at least a few years from here on out.
For those of you who got a good shock up above by reading up on the Ayaneo 2’s price, maybe this one will be more to your liking. The Ayaneo Air is the smallest handheld gaming PC in our collection. Coming in at almost half the price of the Ayaneo 2, this game is priced at $569 but has the potential to go well above $1000 if you choose to spec it with top-end hardware. Even though it is tiny, the Ayaneo 2 boasts an OLED screen with RGB lights. If you’re short on space, the Air is going to be the best option for you.
That’s a wrap on our selection of the 5 top handheld gaming devices coming to stores, or already present, in 2023. If you’re willing to play the waiting game, the majority of these consoles might go on sale during the Christmas season. Expect to get a good amount slashed off from their final price but if you can’t wait, then by all means, these machines are worth their original price tag too!