Whether you’re shopping for the perfect handheld gaming present or looking to find out more about handheld gaming, we on the Best Buy Blog are here to help! Handheld gaming has come a long way since it first began. It’s now become a fun and easy way for everyone to dive into gaming on the go. However, because there are so many options and choices, choosing a gift for that special someone can be a daunting task.
To help with your shopping, we’ll take a brief look at the history of handheld gaming, some of the pros and cons, what handheld gaming devices are available and some of the games for each one. Let’s go!
Evolution of handheld gaming
Before we dive into gift ideas for the handheld gamer on your list, let’s chat about the journey from the Nintendo Game Boy to today’s Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, ASUS ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion GO, Logitech G Cloud and mobile devices. Handheld gaming has completely changed how people worldwide enjoy video games, offering a way to have fun wherever they are.
Handheld gaming kicked off in the late ’80s with the Nintendo Game Boy, a total game-changer that let you take your favourite games anywhere. As time rolled on, handheld gaming got even better with colour screens in devices like the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, TurboExpress, and eventually the Game Boy Color in 1998.
In 2004, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS with its dual screens. Then, in 2005, Sony released the PlayStation Portable also known as the PSP that had eye popping graphics and cool multimedia features. Fast forward to 2011, and Nintendo unleashed the Nintendo 3DS, adding 3D graphics without the need for those funky glasses.
Latest and greatest in handheld gaming
The newest device in handheld gaming from Nintendo is the Nintendo Switch family of consoles, hitting the scene in 2017. What sets the Nintendo Switch apart is you can play it on your TV like a regular console or take it with you like a handheld gaming device. The detachable Joy-Con controllers make it easy to play with friends and family. Recently, PC gaming jumped into the handheld scene with the Steam Deck, ASUS ROG Ally, and Lenovo Legion GO.
Pros and cons of handheld gaming
Like anything, handheld gaming has its ups and downs to think about. First off, handheld gaming is super handy and convenient. You can play video games pretty much wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Handheld gaming devices are easy to handle, perfect for gaming on the go. Plus, the game selection is a big win, offering everything from classics to the latest hits.
But, handheld gaming has its downsides. The screens on handheld gaming devices are smaller than your TV, so the visuals might not look as good or detailed. And, there’s the battery life, charging becomes a regular thing. Also, for some people, the controls can feel a bit cramped during longer gaming sessions.
Ultimately, handheld gaming is a mix of convenience and a few drawbacks, but for many like myself, the freedom to game anywhere makes it all worth it.
Handheld gaming devices
Now that we’ve looked at a bit of history of handheld gaming, let’s take a look at the options available, some of the pros and cons and some of the games available for each platform.
Nintendo Switch family of systems
When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, there are three different models to choose from. The Nintendo Switch OLED model offers the premium Nintendo Switch experience as it features a 7″ OLED 1080p screen, enhanced audio, double the internal storage, a larger more robust kickstand for table top play and a redesigned docking station to play on your TV. The battery life of the Nintendo Switch OLED varies between 4.5 to 9 hours depending on screen brightness and the game you are playing.
The Nintendo Switch features a 6.2″ LCD 720p screen and allows for play on the go and at home on your TV at 1080p. The battery life of the Nintendo Switch varies between 4.5 to 9 hours depending on screen brightness and the game you are playing.
Finally, the Nintendo Switch Lite was made for gaming on the go. It features a 5.5″ LCD 720p screen, non detachable joy-con controllers and can not be hooked up to your TV to play. The battery life of the Nintendo Switch Lite is the least of all the models varies between 3 to 7 hours depending on screen brightness and the game you are playing.
Games on Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch family of systems have more than 4500 games to choose from, with more releasing every day. There truly is something for everyone on the Nintendo Switch. The latest games from all the main Nintendo series and franchises are all available on the Nintendo Switch.
Here are a list of some of the best selling and most popular games: Super Mario Bros. Wonder, The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, Animal Crossing New Horizons, Mark Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mash Bros. Ultimate, Pokémon Sword / Pokémon Shield, Super Mario Party and Super Mario RPG.
ASUS ROG Ally
Looking for top-notch PC gaming on the go? Check out the ASUS ROG Ally. It’s loaded with awesome features, making it one of the coolest handheld gaming devices for PC gaming around. If features a 7-inch 1080p screen with 120Hz refresh rate for vivid colours and sharp details.
The battery life on the ASUS ROG Ally greatly varies. Gaming wise, depending on the game your playing, the ASUS ROG Ally has a maximum battery life of 4 hours.
Games on ASUS ROG Ally
The ASUS ROG Ally lets you play any virtually any PC game that runs on Windows 11, from Steam and Epic Game Store to Xbox Game Pass and more. It’s not just for PC games – you can dive into cloud gaming services, Android apps, and more. That’s thousands upon thousands of PC games at your finger tips.
However, as with PC gaming, some of the newer and more demanding games will require tweaking to get the best performance. Games such as: Spider-Man Remastered, Diablo IV, Grand Theft Auto V, and Cyberpunk 2077 can be enjoyed with some tweaking.
Lenovo Legion Go
The Lenovo Legion Go is another PC handheld gaming device that allows you to play your favourite PC games on the go. It comes with Windows 11 and an 8.8″ touchscreen with adjustable refresh rates for crisp and vivid visuals. Much like the Nintendo Switch, the Lenovo Legion Go’s controllers are detachable.
As with all handheld gaming devices, the battery life on the Lenovo Legion Go greatly varies. Gaming wise, depending on the game your playing, you can expect about 3 hours on a single charge.
Games on Lenovo Legion Go
With so many different PC game launchers, Lenovo has designed their own Legion Space software. It smoothly links up your PC gaming library with all major game launchers, making it easy to play your favourite games. Again, just like the ASUS ROG Ally, some newer and more demanding games will need to be tweaked to get them running optimally on the Lenovo Legion Go.
Finally, as an added bonus, the Lenovo Legion GO comes with its own hard carrying case. This makes it easy to bring the Legion Go with you wherever you go!
Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld
The Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld is a dedicated cloud gaming device that allows you to play your favourite games in the cloud. Sporting a large multi-touch 7-inch 1080p 60Hz LCD screen, the G Cloud is equipped to produce some amazing visuals. The battery life on the G Cloud is quite impressive. In cloud gaming, all the processing and rendering of the games are done on remote servers, this means with the Logitech G Cloud you get 12 or more hours of battery life off a single charge.
You can play Android games on the G Cloud in addition to the cloud gaming services, but it’s not really designed for it. Nor does it have the horsepower to run the more demanding Android games.
Handheld gaming on your mobile phone
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about handing gaming on your mobile phone. With smartphones becoming powerful, playing on the go has never been easier or more accessible for people of all ages. The biggest plus of mobile gaming is how easy it is. This has opened up gaming to a whole bunch of people who might not have seen themselves as gamers before.
The variety of games available is another cool thing about mobile gaming. Whether you like brain-teasing puzzles, epic adventures, or competing with friends, the app stores are filled with games. Plus, the touchscreens on phones have sparked creative game designs, making unique experiences that fit the device perfectly.
However, there are some challenges. The touchscreen controls work well for some games but might not be ideal for complex ones. For the best mobile gaming experience companies like Razer and Backbone make gaming controllers that allow you to slip your phone in. Additionally, you can easily pair a PS5 DualSense controller, Xbox Series X|S Wireless Controllers or other standard controllers from 8BitDo, PowerA, Razer and SteelSeries. Additionally you can play games on Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Plus Premium and Amazon Luna right from your phone with the appropriate subscriptions.
Handheld gaming buying made easy
And there you have it! I hope this guide was able to help you find the perfect handheld gaming present or learn more about handheld gaming and the choices available to you. If you have any questions leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
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