Those leaks were real! Logitech is jumping into the handheld game console arena, and cloud gaming is the primary platform? The company has announced the “Logitech G CLOUD Gaming Handheld,” a Steam Deck/Nintendo Switch-style portable that runs Android, has a full suite of controller buttons, and is meant to take your cloud gaming collection on the go.
The device is powered by an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G—that’s two Cortex A76 CPUs, four A55 CPUs, and an Adreno 618 GPU all built on an 8 nm process. That’s a mid-range chip that’s very close to what you get in a Pixel 5a. It’s good enough for some local games, but those will be local Android games, and those are not the focus of this device. Besides the “Cloud” in the name, Logitech says the handheld takes “massive libraries of AAA titles and advanced graphics from the cloud and puts it all in your hands. This allows you to play a ridiculous amount of games from Xbox, Nvidia GeForce NOW, and even Steam Link.” (Logitech continually snubs Stadia and Luna in its promotional materials, but presumably they will work, too.)
The spec sheet also includes a 7-inch, 60 Hz,1920×1080 LCD, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, plus a MicroSD slot. There’s a USB-C port for 18 W charging, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, and Wi-Fi 5 (aka 802.11ac) support. For buttons, you get a pretty standard layout of a D-pad, two joysticks, ABXY face buttons, four shoulder buttons (two analog), and then four system buttons for things like “Home” and “Menu.” Logitech’s FAQ goes out of its way to say that video out is not supported, so no Switch-style TV hookups.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, Logitech’s portable has no fan. That means it really won’t be great for locally crunching its own game graphics compared to its competition. The upside is that you’re getting more tablet-like battery life: Logitech claims up to 12 hours of game streaming from the 6000 mAh battery.
There are no good answers regarding Internet access for a portable cloud gaming device. Logitech’s Qualcomm chip deal opens the possibility for cellular connectivity with either LTE or 5G via a Qualcomm modem, but there is no cellular option at all for Logitech’s handheld. Cellular would make the device even more expensive, both upfront and with a monthly cellular bill, but not having it means that out of the box, your “portable” cloud gaming device will only work if you can find a friendly, high-quality Wi-Fi hotspot. You could never use the thing during a road trip, at least not without tethering it to some other device, and even then, cellular game streaming will be tough. It feels like you’re constantly going to be starving for Internet.
Logitech’s cloud handheld is $350, (but on sale now for a $300 introductory price), which is a tough sell because that’s Nintendo Switch money. A Steam Deck is $50 more. How much do you love AAA Xbox/PC games and putting up with constant Internet questions, when a fully local handheld can be had for the same amount of money?
Somehow this device is only shipping with Android 11, which, at two years old, is probably close to the age limit of what Google is willing to license to third parties. The system comes with Google Play, so you’ll have easy access to all your favorite games, emulators, and streaming services. The press release says Logitech’s handheld was “developed in partnership with Tencent Games,” with the two companies teaming up to “combine Logitech G’s expertise in hardware with Tencent Games’ expertise in software services.” Tencent is a Chinese tech juggernaut and the world’s biggest gaming company, thanks to owning a stake in a ton of development houses, like Riot Games and 40 percent of Epic Games. Tencent also has a ton of Android app experience, while Logitech has none. I wonder if any Tencent software is backed into the operating system?
The handheld is up for preorder now and will be available at Amazon and Best Buy in October.