AYANEO just stole the Steam Deck's thunder, will launch a handheld console with 'SteamOS' and Hall Effect sticks [Updated]

AYANEO Next Lite
The AYANEO Next Lite will be just the second handheld gaming console to run SteamOS. (Image credit: AYANEO)

Update January 11, 06.00 ET: AYANEO has confirmed more details to GamingOnLinux about the software, and it's not quite as good news as we originally hoped. The Next Lite is not going to be running SteamOS, at least, officially, and there's no partnership with Valve. It will instead be using HoloISO, a community distro based on SteamOS which has, in the past, had questionable reliability. Without official support and updates from Valve it also creates a huge question over not only the user experience and performance, but over the long-term prospects unless AYANEO is going to be contributing to HoloISO. The company also confirmed there will be a Windows driver made available for the Next Lite, which honestly, might end up being the safer option. 

Original article follows. 

What you need to know

  • AYANEO just unveiled the Next Lite handheld gaming console.
  • The AYANEO Next Lite has SteamOS preinstalled, differentiating it from most competing devices.
  • The console has Hall Effect joysticks, which do not wear out easily and do not develop stick drift.
  • AYANEO has not shared pricing for its new console yet, but the device will launch on January 11, 2024.

AYANEO has a new console on the way that will compete with the Steam Deck, Lenovo Legion Go, and ASUS ROG Ally. The AYANEO Next Lite runs SteamOS, which will be viewed as a plus by many. Most handheld gaming consoles apart from Steam Deck run Windows, which is generally considered to have a worse user interface on portable consoles.

Running SteamOS by itself will be enough to turn heads, but the AYANEO also has Hall Effect joysticks. Those sticks last longer than traditional joysticks and do not develop stick drift. It also has a 7-inch display and a 47Wh battery. AYANEO's announcement shared few other details about the device.

The AYANEO Next Lite is an intriguing device, but we won't know if it's worthwhile until the company reveals the console's pricing. Since the Next Lite runs SteamOS, it could be more budget friendly. AYANEO not having to pay for a Windows license could reduce the cost of the console. But other components on the device could bump up the Next Lite's price.

Orders for the AYANEO Next Lite are expected to open on January 11, 2024 at 9:30 PM based on AYANEO's website.

SteamOS vs Windows 11

Gaming handhelds: Steam Deck, ROG Ally, Nintendo Switch OLED, and more

Until now, the Steam Deck has been the only handheld gaming console to run SteamOS. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Until now, the Steam Deck has been the only handheld gaming console to run SteamOS. In our Steam Deck review, we said "the default SteamOS is clean, responsive, and in line with its console counterparts."

While SteamOS is solid on handheld devices on its own, the operating system is boosted by the fact that Windows is not great on small screens. Windows 11 supports a massive library of apps and games, but the OS scales poorly on to seven- or eight-inch screens.

SteamOS was made for devices like the Steam Deck and, presumably, the AYANEO Next Lite.

How much will the AYANEO Next Lite cost?

The big question surrounding AYANEO Next Lite is its price. The handheld gaming console market is increasingly crowded, with big players filling many a niche. With devices like the ASUS ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go running Windows, AYANEO's Next Lite could stand out with SteamOS being preinstalled. But if the console costs more than the Steam Deck ($400 for base model), it's hard to see people choosing it over Valve's offering.

That's not to say that the Steam Deck is perfect. AYANEO could make a genuinely better portable handheld than the Steam Deck. But Valve kicked off the handheld gaming console trend with the Steam Deck, so the brand has power. The AYANEO Next Lite needs to launch at a competitive price while also having other differentiators.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

  • fdruid
    Oh right? The Ayaneo that's been selling basically smoke in forms of preorders? Let's talk when that gets to a real person's hands.