The AYA Neo Next II handheld gaming PC has built-in touchpads and discrete graphics

Chinese handheld gaming PC manufacturer AYA has unveiled yet another model for the company’s growing range of handheld gaming devices.

The AYA Neo Next II however, has a few features that make it stand out from the crowd.

Firstly, in addition to D-Pads, analog sticks, action buttons and shoulder buttons, the AYA Neo Next II has two built-in touch pads. The only other modern portable PC manufacturer that currently has touchpads is Valve, which uses them for its Steam Deck.

Touchpads, in theory, open the door to playing games designed for keyboard and mouse input instead of controllers. They could also make it a bit easier to navigate Windows or Linux-based operating systems without a mouse. But despite the Steam Deck’s popularity, I’ve seen mixed opinions on whether the touchpads are really that useful.

Another thing that sets the AYA Neo Next II apart? It is designed with support for individual images.

While it initially seemed like this meant the little computer would be designed with support for external graphics docks, that wouldn’t really be much of a differentiator. Theoretically each handheld gaming system with a Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 port supporting 40 Gbps data should also be able to work with external graphics docks.

Arthur Zhang, CEO of AYA, says the Neo Next II will take things a step further, offering a laptop-class discrete GPU. The company has not yet determined exactly how it will do that, but there are two options that AYA is considering:

  • One option would be a laptop-like discrete GPU placed on the motherboard along with the CPU. This model would be slightly heavier than most handhelds and would have a removable battery, allowing users to choose between heavier, higher-capacity batteries or thinner, lighter batteries for more portability (but less runtime).
  • Another option is a removable module that contains both a battery and a discrete graphics card. Basically take the battery out of the back of the AYA Neo Next II and replace it with a dGPU module if you want extra gaming power, or use the original battery if the internal graphics card is good enough.

AYA is apparently considering using Intel Arc graphics and AMD Radeon 6000 series graphics for its discrete GPUs. And while the company hasn’t finalized the details yet, Zhang says the Neo Next II isn’t a “concept device” but something AYA actually plans to bring to market.

But this does open the door to using the portable gaming PC as your nothing but gaming pc. Connect it to an external GPU and display it while gaming from home for the best experience. Or unplug it and take it with you to game on the go with a lower resolution and less quality.

AYA has suggested that the Neo Next II will be available with a choice of Intel Alder Lake or AMD Ryzen 7 6000U processor options, though the company hasn’t revealed any specific chips yet.

While AYA has already shipped a number of portable gaming PCs, including the AYA Neo and AYA Neo Next, the company’s roadmap for the year ahead looks like terribly ambitious, with the recent announcements of upcoming models including:

That’s a lot of devices. AYA says the goal is to cater to the different needs/requests of different gamers. And indeed, this lineup means the company promises to deliver a wide range of products at different price points, some of which have unusual features to help them stand out in the increasingly crowded portable gaming PC market.

But it’s kind of strange to see a company that has shipped only a few products so far announcing so many new models in the space of a month or two.

Update: This article originally suggested that the AYA Neo Next II would support an eGPU (external graphics dock), but Arthur Zhang, CEO of AYA, says that was a mistranslation and that the company actually plans to bring separate graphics to the handheld bring your own PC.

via AYA (YouTube & Weibo)

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