Update #3 [Thu 25th Jan, 2024 12:15 GMT]: Following consultation with fans, AYANEO has decided against shipping its upcoming Next Lite handheld with the Steam fork HololSO, and will instead release it with Windows 11 – just like all of its other handheld PCs.
Here's the relevant part of the statement:
Following the announcement of the operating system for AYANEO NEXT LITE, players and friends have shown great interest and engaged in lively discussions. Some players provided feedback indicating the continued preference for a Windows operating system. "Real Gamers, Know Gamers," and in response to this valuable feedback, we are pleased to announce that AYANEO NEXT LITE will come pre-installed with the genuine Windows 11 64-bit Home Edition operating system. Of course, players can still choose to install HoloISO on their own. AYANEO's official website provides HoloISO system images that are officially adapted and compatible for players to download and experience. The streamlined and efficient HololSO system aims to offer players a more convenient game management, smooth and stable gaming performance, lower overall power consumption, and native compatibility with both controllers and touchscreen operations. This approach aligns with the gaming habits of handheld device users, providing players with a richer selection of operating systems.
We've often said that the Windows aspect of AYANEO's products is perhaps the weakest part, as Windows 11 simply isn't designed with touchscreens in mind.
Compared to the Steam Deck's UI, navigating your way around Windows 11 on a touch display can be intensely frustrating, and while AYANEO's AYASpace launcher goes some way to getting around this, it's not the perfect solution.
It's not just us who feel this way, either:
Update #2 [Mon 15th Jan, 2024 10:00 GMT]: The Verge has revealed that after AYANEO CEO Arthur Zhang has posted on the company's Discord channel that "it should be noted that we are using third-party SteamOS, not official SteamOS."
This appears to fly in the face of promotional material, which states the device has full-fat SteamOS installed.
The company's post on the topic was, according to Neowin, edited at a later date to reflect this. HololSO, which the Next Lite will ship with, "attempts to bring the Steam Deck's SteamOS Holo redistribution into a generic, installable format, and provide a close-to-official SteamOS experience," according to its creator.
So, while many (ourselves included) will have been hoping for a proper SteamOS install, this is, in fact, a fork which isn't endorsed by Valve itself. That doesn't mean it won't offer the same overall UI experience, of course, but we imagine it will give potential customers pause for thought nonetheless.
Update #1 [Fri 12th Jan, 2024 12:30 GMT]: AYANEO has revealed the chipsets and pricing for its upcoming Next Lite handheld, which is the first non-Valve device to run SteamOS.
The unit's entry-level option comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U chipset,16GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs $299.
The mid-range model also has an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U chipset and 16GB of RAM, but offers 512GB of storage. That version will cost $349.
Finally, the top-level spec is packing the more powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4800U chipset, along with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. It costs $399.
As well as revealing this info, AYANEO has explained a little more about how SteamOS will function on the device. The company's bespoke 'Holo OS' will make it possible, and users have the option to install Windows on the device if they so wish.
Original Story [Wed 10th Jan, 2024 19:30 GMT]: Valve's Steam Deck has become something of a sensation since it launched a while back, giving players the chance to take their Steam libraries on the road with them – as well as doubling up as an amazing emulation platform.
We've seen a host of Windows-based handheld PCs appear in the same time frame, each of which has been described by the gaming press (including us, oops) as a Steam Deck rival.
However, this isn't really the case, as Steam Deck is the only product in its class which feels like it is built around portable play. While it's perfectly possible to install the Windows Steam client on, say, the AYANEO Air Pro or OneXPlayer 2, you're never getting the same UI experience; navigating that Windows UI is often a pain as it expects you to be using a mouse and keyboard.
However, AYANEO's latest product looks set to change that. The AYANEO Next Lite is the first non-Valve device to ship with the open-source SteamOS installed as standard, which means it should offer the same kind of user experience as the Steam Deck.
Rocking a 7-inch 800p display, Hall effect sticks, a 47Wh battery and a case design based on the existing AYANEO Next handheld, the Next Lite is shaping up to be a pretty exciting prospect – although the company is yet to reveal the silicon that is powering it, or what price it will retail for.
AYANEO's handhelds tend to be on the expensive side, usually because they feature cutting-edge internals, such as the latest chipsets. Given that it's blessed with the 'Lite' name, it may well be cheaper than you think.
If you're keen to know more, then AYANEO has said that it will be opening 'subscriptions' for the system tomorrow night, whatever that means. The company has traditionally taken the crowdfunding route with its products, so perhaps it is taking a slightly different route with the Next Lite.