Lenovo’s Superior Steam Deck & Swap Competitor

Lenovo just announced this Legion Go handheld portable gaming console at IFA 2023. We got to try out a prototype for a little while, and it’s pretty awesome. We didn’t have enough time to try out a lot of games or really test the performance, so this is mainly going to be a discussion of first impressions.

The Legion Go is basically an ultra-mobile Windows 11 tablet PC with removable game controllers on the sides. It’s got an 8.8 inch 2560x1600px IPS 97% DCI-P3 16:10 touchscreen display and runs on the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor with RDNA graphics chipset and 16GB of 7500Mhz RAM. You’ll be able to choose between 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 storage.

The Legion Go looks great! It feels very similar to a Steam Deck, but we’ve also got a nice kickstand on the back, as well as a few other tricks. Its dimensions are going to be 11.8” x 5.15” x 1.61”, and it will weigh 854g (1.88 lbs). It will have a 2-cell 49.2WHr battery, and the controllers will each have 900mah batteries. There are plenty of ports as well, including a 3.5mm audio jack, 2 USB-C ports (USB 4, DisplayPort 1.4, power delivery 3.0), and a microSD card reader.

We got to play PowerWash Simulator on the Legion Go, and it worked quite well. The controls felt as good as any Xbox or Playstation controller, and the game was perfectly responsive, though we’ll admit that this particular game doesn’t really require split-second reaction times.

When you take the controllers off the side, the Legion Go becomes a nice little portable computer, and of course, the controllers still work for playing games.

Just like a Nintendo Switch, the removable controllers work great while attached, but they do not convert into multiple controllers for two-player games. There are lots of buttons, including six programmable grip buttons on the bottom.

If you place a controller into the little plastic circular accessory, it becomes a computer mouse that you can slide around to control the Windows 11 computer’s mouse pointer. This should also work with games if you prefer a mouse-like interface to the controller joysticks.

Since the Lenovo Legion Go runs Windows 11, that means you can also take advantage of the Xbox Game Pass for PC if you want to pay a monthly subscription fee for access to hundreds of games to play whenever you feel like it.

Above, you can see the regular Windows 11 interface running on the Lenovo Legion Go. The Windows 11 interface is not very well designed for a small touchscreen like this. Windows 10’s tablet interface or even Windows 8’s interface would have been much better on a touch screen this size.

Using Windows 11 on a tablet is more like using Windows XP on a tablet, which, honestly, I was totally ok with back in 2002. Of course, one of the controllers can turn into a real mouse, and you can pair any Bluetooth or wired keyboard with the Legion Go in order to get a better desktop Windows interaction experience.

With the Steam Deck, a lot of people wanted to install Windows 11 in order to play Windows games. Steam made that possible by providing drivers. Now, with the Legion Go that ships with Windows 11 built-in, I wonder if people might want to install Steam OS in order to get better performance on Steam OS-compatible games.

Overall, the Legion Go is very impressive based on our short time with a prototype. Anyone who likes mobile gaming and/or PC gaming is going to want to consider pre-ordering one of these beauties seriously. Lenovo Legion Go will be available for $699 across most major retailers starting October 2023.

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