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March 26, 2024

Introducing the Orange Pi Neo Linux Handheld Gaming PC: Prices Starting from $499


The Orange Pi Neo is an upcoming handheld gaming PC with some of the features we’ve come to expect in this space. It has a 7 inch FHD+ display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and it will be available with a choice of AMD Ryzen 7 7840U or Ryzen 7 8840U processor options.

But it’s unusual in a few ways. Instead of Windows, it’s expected to ship with a handheld-friendly version of Manjaro Linux. It has Steam Deck-like touchpads for navigation (as well as the usual game controllers). And it will be competitively priced: the company behind the Orange Pi Neo have announced that it will sell for $499 and up.

The starting price is for a model with a Ryzen 7 7840U processor featuring 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and Radeon 780M integrated graphics with 12 RDNA 3 computer units.

Models with Ryzen 7 8840U chips start at $599. On the one hand, this chip doesn’t look much better on paper, as the only difference is that it has a higher-performance neural processing unit for enhanced AI features. But after evaluating handhelds with the two chips, The Phawx has noted that the Ryzen 7 8840U actually does appear to deliver a modest boost in performance.

The Orange Pi Neo is a product of a Chinese firm, which is famous for creating single-board computers to rival the Raspberry Pi range. The Neo is the company’s preliminary venture into the consumer devices market.

It has potential to be an inviting choice in the rising handheld gaming PC sector, due to its affordability, high-end features, and flexibility. The Valve’s Steam Deck was the premier major handheld gaming PC to ship with a Linux-based operating system, where the SteamOS on the Valve’s handheld is strictly integrated with Valve’s Steam game shop. It is allowed to run other game stores and software (including Windows installation) on the Steam Deck, however, it is primarily built for the Steam user base.

On the other hand, Orange Pi has consistently shipped Linux-compatible hardware meant for developers and hobbyists. It appears that Manjaro Linux could be the default operating system, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see future community support for different operating systems, rendering it a platform suitable for hobbyists ready to invest time and effort in customizing a handheld to suit their necessities.

For those seeking a plug-n-play device, the Steam Deck might be a superior option. Though its processor, graphics, and display may not seem as impressive on paper, Valve has dedicated extensive time and energy to ensure a wide array of recent PC games perform smoothly on the hardware.

The Orange Pi Neo is expected to begin shipping sometime in the first half of 2024.

via Handheld-HQ, @TakiUdon_, and @fkardame

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I am interested in understanding how users interact with the built-in display on Steam Deck consoles. I am particularly interested in learning if gamers who use these devices are frequently playing games on the compact built-in screen, and their reasons for doing so. In my personal experience, I have found that playing games on small screens does not hold my interest for long. Usually, after about 5 minutes, I lose interest and terminate the game session.

I have acquaintances who own only a SteamDeck or similar device and nothing else, barring their smartphones. These individuals tend to play their games on the device, whether they are at home or out and about. They often carry a charger to ensure that they can game on long journeys, like flights—with modern airplanes often having power outlets beneath the seats. Before owning their SteamDeck, many of these individuals largely played mobile games or used portable consoles like the DS. These ‘light gamers’ prefer not to invest in a stationary console, PC, or laptop but still wish to engage in more substantial gaming experiences than those offered by typical mobile games. This tendency mirrors those individuals who purchase tablets primarily for media viewing and web browsing.

Shattered Pixel Dungeon is the only small-screen game I have played to completion. The game is expertly designed and seems to be developed exclusively for mobile interfaces. I find that few games worth playing are designed to accommodate small touch screens unless the games are puzzle-based. As a casual gamer, I may not fully understand why others find this format appealing.

However, it is important to remember that portable gaming consoles have held a solid market for several decades, with many millions of units sold. We have played games on these devices even when they had genuinely small screens. When using a PC handheld with a comparatively large display at a comfortable arm’s length, the screen does not feel “tiny”. Different individuals have different gaming preferences, and a format that works for some may not work for others—like in my case. This difference in preference does not make this style of gameplay any stranger or more peculiar than any other.

You could try asking in the Steam Deck Reddit sub. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of answers.

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