A portable handheld PC to use as a Switch-like games machine is a wonderful idea we’re surprised we haven’t seen more of recently, and this one - which comes to us from the pages of TechPowerUp and Liliputing - looks rather interesting, as well as undercutting the Steam Deck on price. It’s called the Air Plus and comes from AyaNeo.
Inside, you’ll find one of AMD’s new Mendocino APUs, which are a fusion of Zen 2 and RDNA2 designed for thin and light laptops and produced on TMSC’s 6nm manufacturing process. This combo is the same as the custom Aerith processor in the Steam Deck, but in different proportions - while Aerith has eight GPU cores, Mendocino may have as few as two. At least the four CPU cores can match the Steam Deck chip’s numbers.
Being a mainstream part rather than a custom design means the Mendocino APUs could give AyaNeo a way to undercut the Steam Deck on pricing, and by offering its own Linux based AyaNeo OS, alongside the possibility of running Windows or SteamOS, it can save money on licensing fees.
We currently know very little about the handheld - indeed the APUs themselves were only just recently announced at Computex - but a six-inch, 1080p OLED screen and a removable M.2 2280 SSD have been mooted, alongside a Micro SD card reader, but the amount of RAM included is a mystery. It’s clearly too soon to start making comparisons with the Steam Deck, which is already shipping, but that’s not going to stop anybody. The Mendocino silicon is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year, however, so AyaNeo has plenty of time to flesh out the details.
Looks-wise, it’s a Wii-U-esque white rectangle with analog sticks, and Xbox-style face buttons. There's a D-pad on the left, along with what could be a volume rocker, and Start and Select buttons on the right. We haven’t seen the top edge of the casing, so can’t speculate on USB or HDMI placement.
Possibly the best news about the Air Plus is its price, which manages to undercut the Steam Deck by starting its pricing at just $289. Whether this price reflects an underpowered entry-level model is, along with the release date for the handheld, another item we’re awaiting confirmation of.
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Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.