Home Featured Legion Go Gaming Handheld, Lenovo Takes On ROG Ally

Legion Go Gaming Handheld, Lenovo Takes On ROG Ally

by William Linden
Legion Go Gaming Handheld

In the ever-expanding landscape of handheld gaming PCs, Lenovo has thrown its hat into the ring with the Legion Go, marking its entry into the world of Windows-powered gaming handhelds set to hit the market in October. With an impressive feature set that includes an 8.8-inch QHD Plus screen, an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, and a robust 49.2Wh battery (outstripping the likes of the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck), the Legion Go seems poised to make a statement in the handheld gaming arena. Notably, the controllers can be detached, adding versatility to the gaming experience.

While the Valve Steam Deck often comes to mind when discussing this category, the Legion Go appears to be a unique blend, drawing comparisons to the Nintendo Switch and Asus’ ROG Ally. Starting at $699, Lenovo is clearly targeting a competitive price point, positioning itself as a worthy rival to the ROG Ally. Additionally, the Legion Go operates on traditional Windows, offering a wide range of controls, including a touchpad, optimized for the Windows environment.

One notable aspect of the Legion Go is its weight, as it is approximately half a pound heavier than the ROG Ally (and slightly bulkier than the Steam Deck). While this might not significantly affect the gaming experience when using the device with the kickstand, it could pose challenges for users seeking maximum portability, as the accompanying case feels bulkier compared to typical Nintendo Switch cases.

The added bulk, however, likely contributes to extended battery life. Unlike the Ally, which prioritized slimness and sacrificed battery capacity, the Legion Go’s larger battery suggests the potential for longer gaming sessions on a single charge. Lenovo’s representatives refrained from providing a precise battery life estimate during the demo event but promised to disclose this information before the October launch.

In terms of technical specifications, the Legion Go boasts a 2560 x 1600 resolution screen with a speedy 144Hz refresh rate, 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. The device features a variety of ports, including a 3.5mm audio combo jack, USB-Type C (USB 4.0, DisplayPort 1.4, Power Delivery 3.0), and a microSD reader. Another USB Type-C port with similar specifications is located on the bottom for additional connectivity options.

During the hands-on experience, a selection of games, including PowerWash Simulator, Quake II, Evil West, and A Short Hike, were available for testing, all running at 15W, which is likely the default configuration for the device. Lenovo emphasized that the unit used during the demo was not the final version and that various aspects, such as Lenovo’s launcher and in-game overlay, were still being refined before the imminent release.

Gaming performance on the Legion Go was generally satisfactory, although reports from other reviewers indicated difficulties in running certain titles. Detaching the controllers was a seamless process, and the 8.8-inch screen provided a more expansive gaming canvas compared to the Switch’s 7-inch display. The controllers securely fit into the provided stand, offering a joystick-like feel, and the buttons were comfortable to use.

However, a notable issue emerged during the gaming experience: some games did not correctly recognize the Legion Go’s control inputs. Users were prompted to press “Escape,” a key not present on the Legion Go. After troubleshooting, it was discovered that the appropriate key was actually “B” in some instances, leading to a confusing and frustrating gameplay experience. This inconsistency in control mapping could be a significant drawback for potential buyers, especially for those who expect seamless compatibility with their favorite games.

This issue brings to light a critical concern with the Legion Go and similar Windows-based handheld gaming devices: the usability of Windows on a handheld platform. While the device allows users to play mouse and keyboard titles, it lacks a tailored user interface or “desktop mode” like the ROG Ally. Navigating the traditional Windows interface using the Legion’s touchpad or touchscreen, while functional, feels less intuitive than using the available joysticks.

This challenge is not unique to the Legion Go but is shared by most Windows-based handheld gaming PCs. Windows, designed primarily for traditional desktop use, can present challenges when adapted to a smaller, portable form factor. Asus, Lenovo’s competitor, collaborated closely with Microsoft during the development of the ROG Ally to optimize Windows for the device, but still faced issues related to sensitivity, precision, and button mappings.

In contrast, Lenovo revealed that Microsoft had not played a significant role in the Legion Go’s development, raising concerns about potential glitches upon release. The success of the Legion Go may hinge on Lenovo’s ability to harmonize the device with Windows and address these usability challenges effectively.

In conclusion, the Lenovo Legion Go enters the handheld gaming market with a promising set of features, but its ultimate success may depend on how well it manages to integrate the Windows operating system into a portable gaming device. As the launch date approaches, gamers eagerly await more information about battery life, control mapping, and the functionality of Lenovo’s launcher. These factors will likely determine whether the Legion Go becomes a compelling choice for gamers seeking a versatile, Windows-powered handheld gaming experience.

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