Valve’s Lawrence Yang had told PC Gamer a few months’ back that “we want to make SteamOS more widely available. We’ll probably start with making it more available to other handhelds.”

That (might) finally become a reality with the Aya Neo Next Lite. This handheld will have SteamOS pre-installed. Or, supposedly it will be using SteamOS. Which is interesting, considering the company said they were working on Aya Neo OS, which, on the official website, says “coming soon.”

You might actually be surprised at the price of the Next Lite. No, it’s not a grand. It’s even less than the 256 GB Steam Deck LCD model. Prices start at $300.

Per their blog post:

AYANEO NEXT LITE is a value-for-money product that inherits the high-end design and texture of the flagship AYANEO NEXT, further lowering the entry barrier for X86 handheld gaming devices. This ensures the widespread adoption of leading features of high-end flagships, providing an upgraded gaming experience for more players to enjoy immersive and smooth gaming experiences.

Aya Neo Next Lite front and back

Specs are as follows:

  • 7", 800p screen
  • Ryzen 5 4500U or Ryzen 7 4800U
  • “hall sensing” joysticks and triggers
  • 47 Wh battery
  • three USB 3.2 type C ports
  • M.2 2280 PCIe 3 NVMEe storage (128 GB or 512 GB, depending on the version you get)
  • Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.2
  • 16 GB LPDDR4 @4266 MHz

Here’s where the asterisk comes in as far as whether or not it’s actually using SteamOS. The post mentions the SteamOS image they’re using is “based on HoloISO”:

AYANEO NEXT LITE is the first to come pre-installed with the SteamOS gaming system, adapted and optimized by the AYANEO official team based on HoloISO. The streamlined and efficient SteamOS offers players convenient game management, smooth and stable game performance, lower overall power consumption, and native compatibility with controllers and touchscreen operations, aligning with the habits of handheld gaming.

This makes me wonder if Aya Neo didn’t actually collaborate with Valve on this and instead forked HoloISO specically for their use case.

In any case, it’s nice to see some more budget-friendly handhelds coming out to the market. Though keep in mind the RAM is one class lower than the DDR5 the Steam Deck uses, is slightly slower in speed, and the processor that it comes with isn’t going to be fantastic in terms of performance.

See more details on Aya Neo’s website.

Images are credit of Aya Neo.

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