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2023 is poised to be an exhilarating year in the world of handheld gaming PCs. Following ASUS’s unveiling of the ROG Ally earlier in the year, Lenovo is making its debut with the Legion Go, and our hands-on experience with this device suggests that Lenovo’s distinctive approach could leave a lasting impact.
Before we delve into the specifics, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the units we had the chance to test were pre-production samples. Notably, certain aspects, such as the shoulder buttons, exhibited disparities between sides, with one side featuring metallic paint, a representation of the retail version, while the other was constructed from plain black plastic. Also, Lenovo has outlined plans to equip the Legion Go with a custom app launcher akin to ASUS’s Armoury Crate, although this feature was absent from the demo units. The device’s build quality also showed signs of rough edges, implying that Lenovo is diligently working to refine these aspects ahead of its official launch, slated for October.
Now, let’s explore some of the remarkable features of the Legion Go, with its standout attribute being its impressive display. Flaunting an 8.8-inch 2,560 x 1,600 IPS panel boasting a 144Hz refresh rate and 500 nits of brightness, the Legion Go’s screen not only matches the speed of the ROG Ally but also offers the largest display in its category. The vibrant colors further enhance its appeal, setting it apart from its competitors.
However, it’s worth noting that the Legion Go’s size, characterized by its substantial display and somewhat boxy form, contributes to its bulkiness. Measuring 11.8 x 5.15 x 1.61 inches, it aligns more closely with the Steam Deck than the sleeker options like the ROG Ally. The device’s design incorporates a familiar Xbox-style button layout on the front and an intriguing asymmetrical rear paddle arrangement at the back, featuring four rear buttons and a scroll wheel, whose intended function remains a mystery.
Lenovo draws inspiration from the Nintendo Switch, evident in the folding kickstand at the back and the ability to detach the Legion Go’s controllers from the main body. However, it’s worth mentioning that the process of removing the controllers is not as seamless as on the Switch, requiring a combination of button presses and simultaneous tilting and sliding. Mastery of this maneuver may necessitate a bit of practice.
The kickstand proves useful for propping up the display on a table while using the controllers remotely. Thanks to the two USB 4 ports, you can even connect peripherals such as a mouse and keyboard, effectively transforming the Legion Go into a compact desktop alternative. Alternatively, the single touchpad on the right controller facilitates mouse navigation, enhancing usability compared to the ROG Ally, which lacks joystick-based cursor control.
A notable advantage of the Legion Go is the inclusion of an protective case, setting it apart from the ASUS ROG Ally.
Another intriguing feature is the FPS Switch located on the bottom of the right controller. Activating this switch and placing the controller in an included cradle transforms it into a vertical mouse, ideal for precise movements in shooter games. However, whether this setup surpasses the conventional horizontal mouse or joystick remains a matter of personal preference.
Impressively, the Legion Go packs formidable specifications, including an AMD Z1 Extreme chip, 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, and a 49.2 WHr battery, placing it on par with the ROG Ally in terms of power. Notably, what sets it apart is its competitive pricing, starting at $699, which includes an accessory case—a feature absent in ASUS’s offering. This pricing strategy positions the Legion Go as an appealing choice, particularly considering its larger screen, extended battery life, and advanced controllers.
While Lenovo has some refining to do before the official launch of the Legion Go in October, it’s clear that the competition for supremacy in the handheld gaming PC arena is only just beginning, with another prominent player entering the fray.
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