Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

The handheld gaming PC market is becoming pretty saturated at the moment, with devices like the Steam Deck, ROG Ally, OneXPlayer and more all fighting for the same sector of the market. To stand out, some manufacturers are starting to add unique features to their products, and AYANEO – perhaps one of the most prolific companies operating in this space – has its eye firmly set on innovating in order to make an impact.

The AYANEO Slide is one of the devices the firm has released to inject a little variety into the handheld PC market; while it retains the same basic design as the AYANEO Air line of handhelds, it boasts a slide-out screen with a full keyboard underneath – giving it a USP that sets it apart from competing products.

Is this feature enough to make the AYANEO Slide worthy of investment, though? That's what we're here to find out.

AYANEO Slide Review: Design & Display

Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

With its screen retracted, the AYANEO Slide looks very much like its stablemate, the AYANEO Air (which has had multiple variants over the past few years). It's a design template the company is clearly comfortable with; it's compact (very compact, in fact – it's much smaller than the Steam Deck, for example), ergonomic and visually appealing. If something isn't broken, you don't try to fix it – and in this case, AYANEO has taken that template and iterated upon it by adding the aforementioned sliding display and keyboard.

The screen slides up with a satisfying click, exposing an illuminated keyboard underneath. There's an extra trick here, however; the display can also be tilted forwards for a more agreeable viewing experience. While we can't possibly comment on the long-term reliability of this mechanism, it worked perfectly during our review period, even if it is a bit wobbly at times. We'd just avoid knocking the screen or accidentally dropping the Slide when it's open, as we can't imagine it will withstand a harsh impact with solid ground.

The keyboard, predictably, has somewhat tiny buttons, but they're easy enough to use. When you're holding the AYANEO Slide, you'll naturally want to use your thumbs to interact with the keys, but when placed on a flat surface, we found that text input was quicker when using our index fingers.

Given that one of our main complaints with Windows-based handheld gaming PCs is text input – on-screen keyboards obscure your view of the action and are often awkward to use – it should come as no great shock to learn that we're very much in favour of this feature. While you still need to use the touchscreen to make selections that would normally be achieved via a mouse on a desktop PC, the fact that you can quickly input text without having a pop-up virtual keyboard take up half of the display is a positive boon.

In terms of controls, things are identical to the other models in the AYANEO Air family. You've got dual analogue sticks (with Hall Effect sensors and fancy LED rings), a D-pad, four face buttons, four shoulder triggers and various other buttons for menu commands. The top edge has the power button / fingerprint scanner and volume rocker, while there's a USB-C port on the top and bottom of the unit. The other big feature of note in terms of design is the cooling system, which pulls in air from the back fan and pumps it out of a vent on the top.

The AYANEO Slide's 6-inch 1080p screen doesn't use an OLED panel, as is the case with some of the company's other handheld devices – it's an IPS panel. As a result, you miss out on the deep, convincing blacks of an OLED screen, as well as the eye-popping colour. This is still a decent screen – if a little small compared to its rivals – but with so many systems of this type shifting to superior OLED tech, it feels like a step back.

AYANEO Slide Review: Performance & Battery Life

Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

The AYANEO Slide is powered by AMD's Ryzen 7 7840U chipset. Announced last year, this chipset is powerful enough to deliver convincing AAA gaming, as well as handle top-level emulation.

To put it through its paces, we loaded up Baldur's Gate 3 via Steam. This is a game that, on the Steam Deck, struggles to run a decent click, even with the graphical settings turned down. However, on the AYANEO Slide, it runs well right out of the box – and at 1080p, to boot.

You can, of course, tinker with the visual settings to get even better performance, but it's no exaggeration to say that even with the default settings, the game runs smoothly and without any problems – likewise with other demanding titles, such as Elden Ring and the Resident Evil 2 remake. We were seriously impressed with how well the Slide handles these games – and while running them at a higher resolution than you'd see on Valve's machine.

When it comes to emulation, the Slide has the clout to replicate all but the most recent home consoles, offering an excellent platform if you're into retro gaming. The keyboard comes in very handy in this regard, as there's inevitably a lot of tinkering and setup to get many emulators working. Being able to type in text quickly and easily really helps.

Stamina has been a consistent issue with pretty much every handheld gaming PC on the market, and sadly, the AYANEO Slide doesn't avoid this pitfall. While it comes with a 46.2Wh battery, if you run the system at its highest processor setting, you can expect your playtime to be limited to around an hour, maybe more (the device also gets very hot during intense sessions, despite the advanced cooling system – although it's not as noisy as some other devices we've used recently).

AYANEO's AYASpace 2 application layer – which can be summoned at any point by tapping the AYANEO button below the face buttons – allows you to set different TDP limits according to what you're doing. So, for AAA games, you'll want the highest setting, but if you're only emulating, say, SNES games, you'll be fine dropping it right down to the lowest setting and thereby will gain a considerable amount of battery life in return.

AYANEO Slide Review: Conclusion

Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

AYANEO's production line never seems to stop, and we've had a new device to play around with every six months or so. While it's tempting to assume that the only real gains are improved processors, the Slide offers a genuine step forward thanks to its integrated keyboard and the sliding, tilting display. The former gets around a big interface nightmare for portable PCs (typing on a screen isn't always fun), while the latter goes beyond being just a simple technical gimmick – the ability to angle that screen means you're getting a better viewing experience.

On the downside, the small-ish display is IPS and not OLED, and battery life remains a concern, especially if you want to play the latest PC games on this thing. It would also be remiss of us not to highlight the fact that, with a starting price of $900 (early bird IndieGoGo pricing is lower), the AYANEO Slide is considerably more expensive than the Steam Deck and many of its Windows-based rivals.

It really boils down to how badly you want a keyboard on your handheld device and how much you value portability. The AYANEO Slide, like its AYANEO Air siblings, is surprisingly small and compact, and that is going to count for a lot if you're planning on carrying this around with you. The amount of power on tap is also impressive and effortlessly outstrips what the Steam Deck is capable of. In fact, the overall performance of this device is better than what we've seen in previous AYANEO offerings, which shows the company is taking significant strides when it comes to fine-tuning its products.

In summary, then, the AYANEO Slide does enough to live up to its promise, offering a comfortable keyboard interface and a cool sliding screen – but that lofty price point is likely to give many people pause for thought.

Thanks to AYANEO for supplying the unit used in this review.