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Phil Hayton

Acer is “watching” the handheld gaming PC scene, and I hope that means budget options

Steam Deck with Acer Predator logo on screen.

The idea of an Acer handheld gaming PC isn’t surprising given that all the big laptop makers are getting in on the action. However, comments made by the company suggest it might actually be on the cards, and that gives me hope for a new, cheaper Steam Deck rival. By that, I mean a portable Windows 11 rig that comes in at the same price as Valve’s machine, unlike most other alternatives with a similar agenda.

The best gaming handheld space is transforming into something special, but it arguably has a problem on its hands in terms of portable PC pricing. Sure, the Steam Deck strikes a nice balance between affordability and performance, and there are cheaper alternatives like the AYN Loki Zero for lightweight activities. Yet, I can’t help but feel the rest are allergic to the idea of matching Valve’s base price, with the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion GO both costing the same as a lower spec gaming laptop.

It’s for that very reason that I’m hyped about remarks made by Acer UK regional director Craig Booth to Tom’s Guide. According to the general manager, the renowned laptop manufacturer is “watching” the handheld PC scene “with interest,” which at least confirms the idea is on the company’s mind. In addition, Booth says that creating a portable device like the Steam Deck would be “relatively straightforward” for the firm since it has access to “the technology” required to do so. That part isn’t exact news, but again, it sounds like logistics aren’t going to be an issue.

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

Let's encourage cheaper Steam Deck rivals

Just so we’re clear, Acer hasn’t remotely confirmed plans for a gaming handheld, nor are Booth’s comments a sly teaser. That said, they do strongly suggest that the tech brand could whip up a Steam Deck competitor whenever it likes, but it’d rather sit back and wait for the perfect opportunity. This makes sense when you consider the infancy of the portable PC platform, not to mention future devices like the Asus ROG Ally 2 could change the goal posts before Acer can even find its feet.

I like premium hardware as much as the next PC nerd, and my Ayaneo 2S review illustrates the benefits of pricey portable tech. Nevertheless, I’d trade away the extra performance for something that balances cost and abilities in a heartbeat, as that’s what’ll ultimately help more players play incredible PC games without an expensive rig. Not to get too deep into it, but I come from a working class family, so I understand the importance of financial approachability all too well. 

And that’s what I hope Acer will consider when drawing up its gaming handheld plans. Forget about detachable controllers and high resolution screens. Instead, focus on offering up robust performance and great quality controls for a competitive price, one that’ll keep Valve and the rest of the scene on its toes. After all, the Nintendo Switch 2 may eventually come and draw potential players away with affordable console specs and change the landscape as we know it.

Looking for something with more oomph? Check out the best gaming PC builds for a desktop powerhouse. Alternatively, take a peek at the best gaming laptops for rigs you can take on the go.

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