Update: After contacting Ayaneo, the company replied that the Next Lite OS is not SteamOS. Instead, it is based on HoloISO, which is another Valve’s SteamOS clone. It was developed by those who wanted the features of the SteamOS 3 but also wanted it to work on various other machines (laptops, handhelds, full-fledged PCs), unlike the SteamOS. This makes things interesting, as this is not in any way an official SteamOS, but it does use most of the SteamOS code. To the untrained eye, most people wouldn’t even notice the difference. Well, at least Ayaneo was honest about it.
It seems like Ayaneo is continually unveiling innovative handheld devices, and their latest announcement introduces a direct competitor to the Steam Deck—the Ayaneo Next Lite. What sets this device apart is its departure from the Windows operating system, opting instead for Valve’s SteamOS. This move makes it an official rival to the Steam Deck, distinguishing it from the array of Windows-powered handheld gaming PCs in the market. This device can potentially make significant waves in the handheld PC space.
The Ayaneo Next Lite not only runs SteamOS but also boasts Hall Effect joysticks, a feature gaining traction among various companies. Its 7-inch 800p display, a deviation from the Steam Deck’s display, and a 47Wh battery further enhance its appeal. While the specifics of the APU/SoC powering this device remain unknown, speculation leans towards using AMD’s Ryzen 7 6800U or even the faster Ryzen 7 7840U.
It’s interesting to see how closely Valve has worked with Ayaneo, and it’s not like Valve is opposed to other companies using SteamOS. Originally, this was Valve’s plan with the Steam Machine and SteamOS before the idea was scrapped. This would have allowed Valve to focus on developing the SteamOS while letting various hardware manufacturers create the PCs running the software.
From available images, the Ayane Next Lite sports 2x USB-C ports, a volume rocker, a 3.5mm stereo headphone/headset jack, L & R analog triggers, L & R bumpers, and a top-mounted power button. On the front, a D-pad, view, and menu buttons grace the left side, while 4x front-facing buttons adorn the right. Additional buttons on the right add to the mystery. The predominantly white color scheme, complemented by black analog sticks and orange bumper/triggers, completes the device’s aesthetic. The more I thought about it as I wrote this piece, the more I realized the device looks similar to the Ayaneo Next Pro.
While Ayaneo has not disclosed the device’s price, this will likely be a pivotal factor in its success. Competing with the Steam Deck, which offers a 512GB version at $550 and a 1TB version at $650, with similar specs, places the Next Lite in a challenging position. Its pricing must align closely with the Steam Deck to remain competitive in the market.
Despite reservations about Ayaneo’s customer support, the prospect of a powerful device running SteamOS intrigues me. I might consider acquiring one for a comprehensive review if the price is reasonable.
Subscriptions and preorders for the Ayaneo Next Lite are set to open on January 11, 2024, at 9:30 PM EST on Ayaneo’s website.