Ayaneo’s attempt to launch a bargain-price competitor to the Steam Deck has been confusing, to say the least, but the company has now published a product page that clears most things up. The Ayaneo Next Lite will cost $299, will not ship with an official build of SteamOS but rather an unofficial fork you have to download separately, and come with a four-year-old AMD processor that’s arguably less potent than the one in the original Steam Deck LCD.
While the company originally advertised that “subscriptions” for the handheld will open on Thursday night, that may have been a case of Chinese to English translation getting too literal — the final product page only has a “Subscribe” button so you can get emailed with more information about the handheld. A new blog post has no mention of subscriptions.
Also, while the company’s initial blog post announcing its next handheld gaming PC said the device has SteamOS preinstalled, the company has since confirmed it won’t have official support for Valve’s Linux-based operating system. After this article was originally published, CEO Arthur Zhang told fans in Ayaneo’s official Discord that “it should be noted that we are using third-party SteamOS, not official SteamOS.”
As reported by GamingOnLinux and Handheld HQ, it will instead have a version of the HoloISO project, which its creator describes on GitHub as something that “attempts to bring the Steam Deck’s SteamOS Holo redistribution into a generic, installable format, and provide a close-to-official SteamOS experience.”
And it will no longer come with HoloISO preinstalled, either: after our first two updates to this story, the company changed its mind and decided to ship it with Windows 11 Home.
Without official support from Valve, or even a decision to center the device around a fork of SteamOS, the prospects for this device running the software well seem much further from reality than the original blog post on Ayaneo’s site suggested.
Many of Ayaneo’s component choices do seem designed to rival the Steam Deck and hit a lower price point. The handheld similarly has a seven-inch 800p screen and a 15W AMD processor with 7nm Zen 2 cores — your choice of the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U or Ryzen 7 4800U. But both of those four-year-old processors contain Vega 8 graphics rather than the Steam Deck’s superior RDNA2 graphics.
It’s worth noting that we’ve already tested an Ayaneo Next handheld with a newer processor inside, the AMD Ryzen 7 5825U, and found it lost to the Steam Deck, sometimes by a decent margin, more than it won. Now, a system with a weaker chip will be going up against Valve’s remaining stock of $349 Steam Decks.
The Next Lite does contain a 47Wh battery, though — closer to that in the $549 Steam Deck OLED, though Ayaneo does not mention battery life. It also has Hall effect joysticks, a dual copper heat pipe cooling system, and 16GB of RAM.
The company is also advertising “vibrant colors” that include a good-looking seafoam green and “high-end craftsmanship.” It also has a port advantage with three USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, including ones on top and bottom of the system, and can fit full-length M.2 2280 NVMe solid state drives, which are generally more widely available in far larger capacities than the Steam Deck’s smaller ones.
The company said on Discord that purchases will open at the end of this month, with shipping before Chinese New Year, which falls on February 10th.
Correction January 11th, 9:03PM ET: Ayaneo’s announcement blog post states the Next Lite would ship with “SteamOS” preinstalled, however, this was incorrect. After publication, the company has since clarified via other channels that it will ship with HoloISO, a distribution based on SteamOS, and we have updated this article to reflect that.
Update January 11th, 10:52PM ET: Added specs and spec discussion based on the final product page.
Update January 31st, 1:06PM ET: Added that the device will be shipping with Windows rather than HoloISO, which has to be downloaded and installed separately.