Yet another player enters the handheld PC gaming market; and this time it's none other than Anbernic, makers of retro handheld consoles (till now). A couple of months ago, a patent design of the company's alleged Windows-based handheld leaked, which you can see below:
Now, it seems like this handheld has gone past the conceptual stage and will soon be announced. A few hours ago, YouTuber Taki Udon shared leaked images of a new handheld from Anbernic bearing the same form factor as the patented design above. In two of the pictures, the unannounced device is seen to be running Windows.
Given that these are not official news, you might want to take these leaks and news with a grain of salt, but a source close to Anbernic (they, of course, wished to stay anonymous) told GBAtemp that indeed this Windows-based Anbernic handheld is coming soon. While they did not share more details such as specs and an ETA for an official announcement, they did mention that the device could potentially launch with SteamOS installed, making it one of the rare third-party device to run on the system. The source says that SteamOS for the device is already being worked on, with testing underway.
As that this marks Anbernic's first foray into WIndows handhelds and also from the symmetrical joystick form factor that the device bears (akin to the company's previous devices), it might be expected that it won't be a direct competitor to devices like the Steam Deck or AYA NEO. Rather, it would be likely that this handheld will be more of a better emulation device thanks to its SSD (over microSD) and has the bonus of coming with the Steam library. But when it comes to PC gaming, think games like Dead Cells rather than Elden Ring.
But if this device won't directly compete against its beefier counterparts, depending on the price, it could offer an interesting alternative for gamers looking for better handheld emulation and light PC gaming on a decent hardware. In fact, Anbernic has a stellar track record when it comes to the hardware front, as their devices, in particular the metal shell ones, are the best retro devices I've ever used (see the RG350M and RG351M). But even the plastic shell ones were professionally crafted; and hopefully Anbernic brings its hardware expertise to the handheld gaming PC market.
Speaking of hardware, it appears that they have improved some aspects of the form factor with this handheld as it seems to bear an integrated grip for better comfort. The shoulder and trigger buttons are now stacked rather than next to each other, which should also enhance the comfort of using the device. Also noticeable from the leaked images are two new face buttons: what appears to be a home button and a windows button.
As mentioned earlier, given that these are not official news, take them with a grain of salt. But the concept of such a device could prove to be interesting to talk about. Would you be interested in a lower-priced gaming PC handheld with lower specs for emulation and light PC gaming?