Yesterday, Logitech announced its $349.99 G Cloud Gaming Handheld, which will be released in the US on October 17 (until then, it’s $50 off to pre-order). Today I got to test it out. It was only a 10-minute demo, but it was long enough for me to snap a few photos, launch some apps, and see what it felt like in my hands. We will have a full review in the coming weeks.
When I got to the test station, death loop (available fresh on Xbox Game Pass) via Wi-Fi to the Xbox Cloud Gaming app from the handheld. Unfortunately it was the actionless intro sequence, but I still had to sprint and jump around. While it wasn’t a fun killer like all my cloud game streaming experiences, there was just a hint of input lag that, for me at least, is hard to ignore. On the plus side, the G Cloud’s buttons, triggers, and analog stick layout feel good. As for visual fidelity, it’s hard to know how much to blame a congested Wi-Fi network, but the game’s dark environments looked a little blurry on the 7-inch 1080p IPS panel.
That was not the case when I switched to Fortnite through the Nvidia GeForce Now app. Closing Xbox Game Pass and launching a new app went satisfactorily quickly. My first impression is that if your basic expectations for speed in a handheld are just the Nintendo Switch, I think you’ll probably be impressed with how responsive the performance and interface navigation feel – maybe not so much if you’re into a Steam deck. At its best, Fortnite on the G Cloud Gaming Handheld looks and runs smoother than on the Switch (not a very high bar, I know), although that depends entirely on the capabilities of your Wi-Fi network. Since this is an Android-based handheld, it is of course possible to use the real Fortnite loaded on this thing and don’t worry about the whole cloud aspect. However, I’m not sure how well it would work with its Snapdragon 720G and 4GB of RAM.
The rest of my time with the G Cloud Gaming Handheld was spent getting lost in the Android launcher that Tencent apparently helped develop with, which appears to be ripped from the Android Honeycomb days (although the device I tested Android 11 turned). It’s easy enough to find all your apps apart from the gaming-oriented apps it puts at the center. If you look at your entire app library, you can click a face button that serves as a portal to the Google Play Store, where you can download practically anything I think. Aesthetically, the UI tries to create a gamer-like atmosphere that didn’t quite click with me.
The G Cloud Handheld fits comfortably in your hand. The built-in handles provide a good amount of palm support and the textured plastic around the back and on the triggers is a nice touch. In terms of ergonomics alone, I’d definitely rather lose a few hours gaming here than on the Switch. On the bottom is a headphone jack next to a USB-C port mainly used for charging. It can’t support sending video to external monitors – I asked – although it does work with USB-C audio transmitters for headsets that offer that sort of thing. At the top left of the handheld rail is a volume rocker next to a sleep switch (you can also disable it through the software). And finally, there’s a microSD card slot on the right side, next to the right shoulder buttons.
This handheld feels and looks well designed, and it took me no time to get the sense that this is one gadget I want to spend a lot more time testing. Though, like most Logitech products, polished as it feels, spending time with it didn’t change the fact that I’m not a fan of the $349.99 retail price. You have to be fully involved not only for this handheld, but also for the services you want to play games on. So from there the costs only go up.
Looking beyond this handheld, it’s really hard to underestimate how much value some of the other popular handheld consoles offer right now, including the $199 Switch Lite or the more capable $299 Switch that can be put on a TV. connected. Not to mention, the Steam Deck’s $399 starting price is a tempting alternative if you want to play PC games on the go. Still, Android tablets turned into handhelds are easy to buy only unusually enough that the G Cloud Gaming Handheld could be a hit. We’ll have to see.