October 1, 2023

For followers of handheld gaming PCs, 2023 simply retains getting higher. Following the discharge of ASUS’ ROG Ally earlier this 12 months, Lenovo is coming into the class with the Legion Go. And, after getting the possibility to go hands-on with it, I feel a few of Lenovo’s twists might find yourself making an enormous distinction.

Earlier than we get in too deep, it’s vital to say that the models I attempted are very a lot pre-production samples. You’ll be able to see proof of this on parts just like the shoulder buttons, the place one facet of the machine options metallic paint (which is what you’ll get on retail gadgets) whereas the opposite facet is obvious black plastic. Lenovo additionally says that alongside a inventory set up of Home windows 11, it’s planning to equip the Legion Go together with a customized app launcher much like ASUS’ Amoury Crate. However, that wasn’t current on the demo models I used. The Legion’s Go’s physique additionally felt a bit tough in locations, so if you happen to spot labels or elements of its shell that don’t look fairly proper, Lenovo is probably going seeking to polish these up earlier than its official launch someday in October.

OK, now that we bought that out the best way, let’s speak about a number of the Legion Go’s spotlight options, essentially the most notable of which is its display screen. It’s an 8.8-inch 2,560 x 1,600 IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh fee and listed at 500 nits of brightness. So not solely is the Legion Go’s panel as quick as what you get from the ROG Ally, it’s additionally the largest display screen on just about any machine on this class. On high of that, colours completely pop, which makes the machine much more interesting than a lot of its rivals.

The plain draw back to that is that between that large show and a considerably boxy physique, the Legion Go is relatively cumbersome. Measuring 11.8 x 5.15 x 1.61 inches, the Legion Go is way nearer in dimension to the Steam Deck than sleeker rivals just like the ROG Ally. As for the remainder of its design, you get a well-known Xbox-style button format in entrance, with an attention-grabbing asymmetrical rear paddle format in again, with a complete of 4 rear buttons together with a scroll wheel, although I’m undecided what’s the supposed goal for that final element. That mentioned, I’m not going to show my nostril up at extra enter strategies.

Apparently, Lenovo can be drawing inspiration from the Nintendo Swap as evidenced by the folding kickstand in again and the flexibility to detach the Legion Go’s controllers from its primary physique. Nonetheless, I did discover that eradicating the controllers isn’t fairly as clean or simple as it’s on a Swap. First, it’s important to press the button within the again after which sort of tilt and slide on the similar time. Granted, I largely bought the grasp of it after a couple of minutes, but it surely undoubtedly takes some follow.

This kickstand does make it simple to prop the show up on a desk whereas utilizing the controllers remotely, although. And because of the 2 USB 4 ports, you may even join peripherals like a mouse and keyboard if you wish to flip the Legion Go right into a tiny desktop. Alternatively, you should use the one touchpad on the appropriate management to mouse round in Home windows, which is a pleasant nod in the direction of normal usability, as a result of in contrast to the ROG Ally, you may’t use the Legion Go’s joysticks to maneuver your cursor.

One nice touch with the Legion Go is that unlike the ASUS ROG Ally, Lenovo's handheld gaming PC comes with an included protective case.

Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One other intelligent function on the Legion Go is that on the underside of the appropriate controller, there’s what Lenovo is asking an FPS Swap. If you happen to toggle that after which drop the appropriate controller into an included cradle, out of the blue you get what is actually a vertical mouse which you could drag throughout a desk whereas taking part in shooters. That mentioned, I’m undecided I’ll ever favor this setup over a conventional horizontal mouse or perhaps a joystick.

Lastly, with specs together with an AMD Z1 Excessive chip, 16GB of RAM, as much as 1TB of storage and a 49.2 WHr battery, the Legion Go seems to be simply as highly effective because the ROG Ally. However what makes this so spectacular is that along with coming with an included case (which you don’t get from ASUS), Lenovo is being very aggressive with pricing, because the Legion Go will begin at $699. That’s the identical because the Ally, regardless of the Legion Go’s greater display screen, greater battery and extra refined controllers.

So whereas Lenovo nonetheless has some sharpening to do earlier than the Legion Go formally goes on sale someday in October, with one other large title becoming a member of the battle, it’s clear the struggle for handheld gaming PC supremacy is simply starting.