The Best Handheld Game Consoles for Gaming on the Go

Are you a gaming enthusiast who wants to take your gaming experience outside the living room? Look no further! In this article, we will explore some of the best handheld game consoles available in the market today. From the iconic Nintendo Switch to the innovative Valve Steam Deck, these devices offer a portable gaming experience like no other. Whether you’re a Nintendo fan or a PC gamer, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of portable gaming!

The Nintendo Switch: The Undisputed King

When it comes to handheld gaming consoles, Nintendo takes the crown with its iconic Nintendo Switch. The original Switch (7/10, WIRED Recommends) revolutionized the gaming industry with its unique hybrid design. It allows you to seamlessly transition between playing on the TV and playing in handheld mode. With its vast library of first-party titles and impressive battery life, the Nintendo Switch offers a gaming experience that is hard to beat.

The Switch is not just limited to Nintendo’s first-party games. It has also become a popular platform for indie games, offering a wide range of options for gamers. From popular titles like Stardew Valley to classic games like Mario Kart 8, the Switch has something for everyone. Despite its lower-powered hardware compared to other consoles, the Switch provides a great platform for third-party developers to bring their games to a portable device.

If you’re looking for an upgrade from the original Switch, Nintendo has got you covered with the Nintendo Switch OLED (8/10, WIRED Recommends). This upgraded version features a bigger 7-inch OLED screen, a more reliable kickstand, and increased storage capacity. While the Switch OLED may not be a necessary upgrade for existing Switch owners, it offers great value for those looking to buy their first Switch.

The Best Handheld Game Consoles

The Valve Steam Deck: Best for PC Gamers

For PC gamers who want to take their gaming on the go, the Valve Steam Deck is a game-changer. This handheld console allows you to play your entire Steam library on the device, giving you access to a vast catalog of games. With its powerful hardware and customizable controls, the Steam Deck offers a PC gaming experience in the palm of your hand.

One of the standout features of the Steam Deck is its compatibility with most games that have controller support. It features all the buttons and control sticks you would expect from a typical controller, along with touchpads that help simulate mouse input. This means that even games not designed for handheld play can still be enjoyed on the Steam Deck.

Despite running on a custom Linux build, the Steam Deck performs exceptionally well with a wide range of games. Many AAA titles that require high-end hardware can be played on the Steam Deck, albeit with lower graphics settings. Whether you’re playing Doom Eternal or other demanding titles, the Steam Deck delivers a surprisingly immersive gaming experience.

Similar to Nintendo, Valve has also released an upgraded version of the Steam Deck called the Steam Deck OLED (7/10, WIRED Recommends). This model features a spec bump and an OLED screen, providing a better display quality. Additionally, it boasts a larger battery capacity, offering improved battery life for longer gaming sessions. While the OLED model comes at a slightly higher price, the enhanced features make it a worthwhile upgrade for PC gamers.

The Best Handheld Game Consoles

Sony PlayStation Portal: Perfect for PS5 Streaming

If you’re a PlayStation fan, the Sony PlayStation Portal offers a unique way to enjoy your favorite games on the go. The PlayStation Portal allows you to stream games directly from your PlayStation 5 to its 8-inch LCD screen. While it doesn’t let you install and play games directly on the device, it provides a convenient way to access your PS5 library remotely.

To use the PlayStation Portal, you’ll need a solid Wi-Fi connection and a PlayStation 5. The device’s streaming capabilities enable you to play your games even when you’re away from home, although the quality may vary based on your internet connection. Whether you want to continue your gaming session at a friend’s place or enjoy gaming on the move, the PlayStation Portal offers a portable and immersive PlayStation experience.

The Best Handheld Game Consoles

Lenovo Legion Go: The Best Windows-Based Gaming Handheld

For gamers who prefer the Windows ecosystem, the Lenovo Legion Go is a standout choice among Windows-based gaming handhelds. While many manufacturers have attempted to create Windows-based alternatives to the Nintendo Switch, the Lenovo Legion Go stands out for its innovative design and performance.

One of the main challenges with Windows-based handhelds is the extra bloat and interface issues that come with running a full Windows operating system. However, the Lenovo Legion Go mitigates these issues with its user-friendly interface and purpose-built gaming features. It features two detachable controllers, similar to the Nintendo Switch, along with a wide and sturdy kickstand for comfortable gaming sessions.

The Legion Go’s “FPS mode” is an innovative feature that bridges the gap between controller and mouse input, offering a more precise control experience. With its Windows compatibility, the device can run any PC game, not just those on Steam. This opens up a wide range of gaming options for users who want to explore games outside of the Steam library.

Honorable Mentions: Other Gaming Handhelds Worth Considering

While the Nintendo Switch, Valve Steam Deck, Sony PlayStation Portal, and Lenovo Legion Go are among the top handheld game consoles, there are several other options worth considering. These handhelds may not have made it to the top of our list, but they still offer unique features and gaming experiences.

  • Nintendo Switch Lite: The Switch Lite is a more affordable version of the Nintendo Switch (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It is a handheld-only console that lacks detachable controllers and TV docking capabilities. If you’re primarily interested in portable gaming and don’t mind these limitations, the Switch Lite is a budget-friendly option.
  • Asus Rog Ally: The Asus Rog Ally is a Windows-based handheld that offers better specs than the Steam Deck. While it suffers from some interface issues, it can be a compelling choice for gamers who want a more affordable alternative. Keep an eye out for sales on this device, as it offers better value for the price.

These honorable mentions provide additional options for gamers who may have specific preferences or budgets. While they may not offer the same level of performance or versatility as the top contenders, they can still deliver enjoyable gaming experiences.

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