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With Legion Go gaming handheld, Lenovo takes purpose on the ROG Ally

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Each firm and its mom appears to be placing out handheld gaming PCs today, and Lenovo is subsequent to the plate. The corporate has introduced the Legion Go, its first Home windows-powered gaming handheld, which shall be out there for buy in October. It’s acquired an 8.8-inch QHD Plus display screen, an AMD Ryzen Z1 Excessive processor, and a 49.2Wh battery (which is greater than these of the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck). Oh, and the controllers pop off, which is neat.

Whereas Valve’s Steam Deck tends to be the primary product that involves thoughts when this class is mentioned, the Legion Go appears extra like a cross between the Nintendo Switch and Asus’ ROG Ally. For one, with fashions beginning at $699, the Ally is clearly what Lenovo is attempting to match on worth. Nevertheless it additionally, just like the Ally, is operating old-school Home windows and has extra controls (a touchpad, primarily) which can be tailor-made towards working that system.


Right here’s the case it is available in.

With controllers hooked up, the Legion Go is about half a pound heavier than the ROG Ally (and a bit heavier than the Steam Deck). It’s a noticeable distinction once you decide the gadget up; it feels heavier. That didn’t significantly affect my gaming expertise since I used to be largely utilizing the gadget with the kickstand propping it up.

Nonetheless, I do know that is one thing some potential clients shall be sad about, significantly those that are shopping for a handheld for frequent journey. The case positively feels bulkier than the one I carry my Change round in.

The presumable upside of this further bulk is battery life. Asus was very targeted on retaining the Ally’s measurement and weight down, and it has a smaller battery than the Go does because of this. I can think about that loads of folks may discover sacrificing some portability for some further longevity to be a really cheap commerce (particularly given how sad many reviewers have been with the Ally’s battery life).

Sadly, Lenovo’s representatives wouldn’t give us a battery life estimate on the demo occasion, claiming they hadn’t had sufficient time to check for it, however assured me they’d have one previous to the October launch. I imply, positive. Okay.

When it comes to different specs, the display screen has a 2560 x 1600 decision and a 144Hz refresh charge. Inside, you get 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and as much as 1TB of storage. Ports embody a 3.5mm audio combo jack, a USB-Sort C (USB 4.0, DisplayPort 1.4, Energy Supply 3.0), and a microSD reader, in addition to an extra USB Sort-C (identical specs as earlier than) on the underside.

There have been some fingerprints on the demo models by the point I acquired to attempt them.

I used to be solely in a position to attempt a couple of video games that had been loaded on. PowerWash Simulator, Quake II, Evil West, and A Quick Hike had been among the many choice of titles. They had been operating at 15W by default, which I used to be advised is “most likely” how the gadget will ship. Lenovo careworn within the demo space that the Legion we had been taking part in with was not in its last kind and {that a} bunch of issues — significantly Lenovo’s launcher, which didn’t actually work throughout my demo, and its in-game overlay, which isn’t operational but — could be buttoned up earlier than launch (which, simply as a reminder, is meant to be in lower than two months).

The gaming expertise that I had was high quality for essentially the most half, although I’ve heard that different reviewers had bother getting the entire titles to run. Popping the perimeters off was easy as soon as I did it a couple of instances, and the 8.8-inch display screen felt considerably greater than the Change’s 7-inch one. The controllers match proper into the little stand that comes with the mannequin, and also you do actually really feel such as you’re utilizing a joystick. I’d actually take it over a joy-con (and the buttons are extra comfy to press).

The controls had been all responsive all through the varied titles I attempted, and gameplay itself was clean with out hangups or extreme fan noise. I did run into one massive snag, nonetheless: lots of the video games I attempted didn’t appear to know that they had been operating on a handheld. At a number of factors in a number of video games, I used to be advised to press “Escape,” which is a key the Legion Go doesn’t have. A Lenovo consultant, after some tinkering, decided that what I wanted to press was B. One sport stored telling me to press B0 — I assume that is some type of joystick key? — which I finally found out was A on the Legion Go. This occurred each when the controllers had been hooked up and once they had been in joystick mode.

That’s what it seems to be like with the controller popped off.

For sure, this can be a massive downside. Video games shouldn’t be telling folks to press the wrong keys for issues (or to press keys their gadget doesn’t even have). It’s nice that this handheld can allow you to play mouse and keyboard titles (I imply, that’s type of the purpose of those Home windows issues), however I don’t see how this gadget is presumably viable to promote if it’s not mapping that performance to gamepad buttons appropriately. You possibly can, after all, simply plug in a mouse and keyboard to repair a few of these issues, however if you happen to see your self doing this too usually, it’s most likely price coughing up a pair hundred further bucks to simply get your self a strong gaming laptop computer (of which Asus has an excellent choice).

A number of the video games I used to be taking part in appeared to suppose that they had been operating on a PC with a mouse and keyboard

This will get at what’s presently my greatest open query concerning the Legion Go, which is identical concern I had concerning the ROG Ally previous to its launch: Home windows. Will it’s straightforward and intuitive to navigate with these controls?

It’s onerous to know from my transient hands-on interval. Nevertheless it’s price noting that this gadget isn’t operating a model of Home windows with a particular system of gestures that has been optimized for a handheld gaming gadget; it’s operating the common {old} working system.

There’s no “desktop mode” for the controls just like the Ally had, both; you’re simply anticipated, I collect, to navigate the old-school Home windows interface with the Legion’s touchpad or touchscreen. I didn’t have an issue doing this throughout my demo, nevertheless it did really feel like a little bit of a waste to be navigating on a teensy little trackpad when there have been completely practical joysticks out there (and I’ve fairly small fingers as nicely).

Right here we’re with the controllers hooked up.

Right here’s the controller with its joystick stand.

That is an impediment that just about the entire Home windows machines on this class want to beat. “The most important difficulty with Steam Deck opponents is that they run Windows,” my Verge colleague Sean Hollister wrote in a latest piece concerning the Ayaneo Kun, an analogous however way more costly gadget. “It’s slightly counterintuitive (isn’t Home windows the place the video games are?), however Home windows is critically unoptimized for a handheld gaming PC, trackpads or no.”

Even if you happen to’re working hand in hand with Microsoft, this can be a onerous feat to drag off. Lenovo’s competitor Asus, for instance, labored carefully with Microsoft all through the ROG Ally’s growth to tailor Home windows’s UI to the smaller kind issue and create distinct controls for desktop use. Regardless of all this, the Ally controls have nonetheless displayed some points with sensitivity, precision, and bindings, and we ran right into a laundry checklist of conditions in our preliminary testing course of the place buttons didn’t do fairly what they had been imagined to do.

Lenovo, in contrast, advised me that Microsoft was not concerned within the Legion Go’s growth in any important manner. So I can solely think about that we might also see some glitches at launch right here.

I believe a number of the outlook for this gadget will hinge on whether or not Lenovo is ready to make its gadget play good with Home windows (and nail its launcher, which continues to be largely an unknown). I’m positive that’s not a straightforward job, and I don’t envy the engineers who must get it finished — however as we realized from the Ally only a few months in the past, that diploma of compatibility can completely make or break a gaming expertise.

Images by Monica Chin / The Verge

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