Despite delays and limited supply, Valve’s Steam Deck handheld gaming console has maintained a loyal fan base and a steady stream of believers. The allure of being able to play PC games from anywhere has grown so strong that the Steam Deck has already attracted a couple of rivals. Most these have the same general design as the Steam Deck, which is a chunky device with a screen in between controls. A few have gone in a different direction, such as using a mini laptop design with gamepad buttons and joysticks. One option tries to combine the best of both worlds by providing a gaming PC in a handheld-friendly size that conceals a real physical keyboard inside.
The concept of being able to play games anywhere dates back decades, to introducing the first “Game & Watch” devices on the market. Handheld consoles like the Game Boy and the now-defunct PSP helped keep the flame alive, but it was likely the success of the Nintendo Switch that reignited public interest in this type of mobile gaming. The ability to switch between handheld and docked modes is definitely appealing, especially since some games, such as the hundreds of titles available for PCs, cannot be played with just a gamepad.
The current generation of handheld gaming PCs, which includes the Steam Deck, isn’t the first of its kind. Although the concept may appear novel to the general public, one or two Chinese companies have been dabbling in that niche market. GPD, which began as a maker of Android gaming handhelds, is one of them, and it will take another stab at the handheld PC that could give its competitors a run for their money.
GPD Win 4 combines handheld design with physical keyboard
According to Liliputing, GPD is back with another portable gaming PC, despite the fact that it is currently running a crowdfunded campaign for one. Unlike the Steam Deck and its competitors, however, the GPD Win Max 2 is a 10-inch laptop with built-in gaming controls. As you might expect, this isn’t ideal for the “handheld” scenario, but it will appeal to gamers who also want to use the same computer for serious business.
In contrast, the upcoming GPD Win 4 is a true handheld device that, at first glance, appears to be similar to others on the market. However, its secret is that its 6-inch screen slides up to reveal a tiny physical keyboard underneath. It remains to be seen whether the design is suitable for thumb typing, but it is already far superior to the capacitive glass used by its predecessor.
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The GPD Win 4 will be powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor with RDNA 2 graphics, a chipset that appears to be popular among handheld PC manufacturers. Based on these details, it appears that it will be a worthy rival to the Steam Deck, but there are a few caveats that may spoil the fun. The most significant difference will be the price, as these devices typically start around $900, which is significantly higher than the most expensive Steam Deck configuration. Of course, the GPD Win 4 is more powerful, but some may wonder if it’s worth paying the price of a laptop instead.