Skip to main content

An OLED gaming handheld rises up to challenge the Steam Deck

Promotional image of the Zotac Zone gaming handheld.
Zotac

In an unexpected turn of events, computing hardware manufacturer Zotac has announced it will unveil a new OLED gaming handheld next week at Computex 2024. All we know so far is that it’s called the Zone and it has a 7-inch AMOLED touchscreen and two-stage adjustable triggers.

The announcement promises “high-performance,” “quality controls,” and “top-end specs” for the device — but we’ll have to wait until next week to see if the numbers warrant these descriptions.

From big names like the Switch and the Steam Deck to competitors like the ROG Ally or the GPD Win 4, there are plenty of handheld gaming PCs and consoles out there already. The Zone will certainly be able to turn heads with its OLED display — a feature only offered by the Switch and the Steam Deck right now — but the device itself will have to match the quality of its screen to really make it worth the attention.

Some X (formerly Twitter) users have posted a brightened image posted below that gives a better view of the design of the handheld.

Thanks to @prudis06 for brightening this image up.

Looks like @ZOTAC is getting into the handheld game.

I wonder if this is just a re-badge. pic.twitter.com/5gkgnPdzPQ

— Cary Golomb (@carygolomb) May 29, 2024

One big question that wasn’t answered in the announcement is whether the device will run on Linux — like the Steam Deck — or on Windows, like practically everything else. Zotac motherboards are usually designed for and bundled with Windows, but there’s no reason they couldn’t go a different way for this product.

Windows is great for compatibility and it’s very easy to get different launchers working on it, but it hasn’t been very effective in the handheld space so far with its unsuitable UI and problematic performance. Steam OS on Linux, on the other hand, performs really well — but as a Valve product, the Deck doesn’t need to worry about supporting launchers other than Steam.

We also don’t know what chip will be used inside. AMD’s Ryzen Z1 chips seem to have been the best options so far, while the Intel Core Ultra in the MSI Claw has had bigger performance and battery life problems.

Since Zotac will only have “functional prototypes of the design” available at Computex next week, it might be a bit early to expect concrete information on battery or performance.

Zotac isn’t the only one planning to make an announcement next week, though — Asus is also planning to show off the ROG Ally X on June 2. Unlike the Zone, it won’t have an OLED screen, but it does still promise to improve on the original model. We’ll have to wait until next week to get more details on both upcoming devices.

Editors' Recommendations

Willow Roberts
Willow Roberts is a contributor at Digital Trends, specialising in computing topics. She has a particular interest in Apple…
OLED monitors just had a major breakthrough
A tandem OLED display shown off at Display Week.

There's some hubbub in the world of display tech right now over Tandem OLED. If you missed Apple's announcement of the new iPad Pro, you've probably never heard of Tandem OLED, but it's already making inroads into other devices. TCL, at Display Week 2024, showed off a slidable Tandem OLED display that could fit into a laptop, and it claims a brightness of more than 2,500 nits.

If you've caught our reviews of monitors like the LG UltraGear OLED 27, you'll know that's an insane level of brightness. And that all comes down to the Tandem OLED tech. Tandem OLED is so simple that it almost doesn't seem real. In order to increase the historically low brightness of an OLED panel, you just stack two OLED panels on top of each other to combine their brightness. Simple.

Read more
Nvidia might power your next handheld gaming PC
Starfield running on the Asus ROG Ally.

Rumor has it that Nvidia is working on a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that could power PCs and even future handheld gaming devices. The speculation comes from Dan Nystedt, who says that Nvidia is working with MediaTek to develop an AI processor that could be revealed as soon as June.

Adding further weight to the rumor is XpeaGPU, who also claims Nvidia is working on a handheld SoC. The leaker says that Nvidia thinks the chip has "good market potential." This isn't the first time we've heard about Nvidia looking at the growing market of handheld gaming PCs, either. In March, leaker Moore's Law is Dead claimed that Nvidia is "worried that it's missing the boat here" with handheld gaming PCs.

Read more
I would give up my Steam Deck if the ROG Ally 2 had these features
Lies of P running on the Asus ROG Ally.

Last year, I wrote about how I went back to my Steam Deck after using the ROG Ally for several months. Asus' device is a real competitor (read our Asus ROG Ally review to learn why), but there are a handful of aspects of the Steam Deck that make it the right handheld for me. That could change with the ROG Ally 2, however.

Rumor has it that Asus is gearing up to release an updated version of the ROG Ally for 2024. Even if this isn't an entirely new handheld, it's hard to imagine Asus will exit the world of handheld gaming PCs any time soon. And if it makes a few key changes to the next iteration of the ROG Ally, I might finally retire my Steam Deck for good.
No Windows lock screen

Read more