The streaming-focused handheld from Abxylute is the first that feels more than the sum of its parts, but is it skirting a dangerous pitfall?
Handheld gaming devices have come a long way in just a few short years, what was once a niche is exploding, thanks to the likes of the Steam Deck, Ayaneo, and more. But, low-powered devices running Android have become increasingly popular. These handhelds are getting to the point where bigger brands like Razer, with its recently-released Razer Edge handheld and the Logitech G Cloud, are instead focused on a cloud gaming experience.
We’re no strangers to low-end handheld gaming devices. We love the Miyoo Mini and adore Anbernic’s output. But, those devices are not cloud gaming focused. With Abxylute going down the cloud gaming route, as well as being a new brand, we were pretty skeptical, to say the least.
Though, those fears were put to rest though almost as soon as we took the console out of the box. Abxylute is upfront and quite transparent about the lower-end nature of the device. Even on their website, they gush over their story and the fact that this is a cloud gaming device first and foremost.
- Chipset: Snapdragon G3x Gen 1
- RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
- Storage: 64GB/2TB MicroSD
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 5, USB-C
- Battery: 5,200 mAh
- Price: $199 (Kickstarter)/$249 retail
We think the Abxylute console feels incredible. The aluminum shell elevates this over the Logitech G Cloud in terms of having a premium feel. While the specs might not be the best in the world, Abxylute has ensured their device doesn’t feel cheap.
There’s this subtle weightiness to it. You know that in your hands, the console isn’t going to run Genshin Impact or many local Android games, but it just has that premium heft that makes it a joy to use. The Abxylute console feels like more than the sum of its parts.
Where it flops majorly is that the device is running a similar Android launcher to Logitech G Cloud. There’s a hard cut between it and browsing menus in Game Pass. Native menus in Android also feel bad to navigate. Thankfully, this disruption mostly vanishes once you’re into a game.
It helps that the screen is crisp, and vibrant 1080p. When the streaming services hit right, it never felt like we were playing on a device that didn’t boast the greatest specifications or the biggest price tag. Abxylute has ensured that while it’s a cloud console, that it doesn’t cheap out where it matters.
Inside the Abxylute console are Hall Effect sensors for the analog sticks and triggers. Not only does this provide you with much better accuracy in comparison to regular joysticks, but it should help prevent drift.
It does this by using a series of magnets, instead of the traditional potentiometer-based solutions seen in handhelds like Logitech’s own G Cloud.
Adding these in for cloud gaming might not be the most sensible thing in the world. You have to take a hit with precision while streaming, which is why RPGs and forgiving racing games work best on those services. Though, knowing that our handheld will never have to face the evils of joystick drift – like on the Nintendo Switch – is comforting.
It also shows the lengths that Abxylute is going to, even for a device like this. There’s no need for Hall Effect sticks and triggers to be included. As we said, cloud gaming comes with some caveats for precision, and they could have cut costs even further by eliminating them. Though we’re glad they’re there, and it shows that Abxylute is committed to creating great-feeling hardware first.
Nothing backs up that claim like the battery life. In our testing, we found that the console on a medium brightness would last around eight hours off a full charge. It only houses a 5200 mAh battery, which is just a slither underneath the Steam Deck’s 5313 mAh battery.
However, without the additional weight of powering an entire Linux PC and AAA games natively, the Abxylute soars while streaming 1080p games and video.
Pricing of the handheld is one of our only complaints with Abxylute’s handheld. While its premium build quality makes it a joy to use, it also costs $249.99 at MSRP. Though it’s cheaper than Logitech’s G Cloud, it still feels like a little too much.
We’re saying the pricing is steep because if the device leaves that perfect comfort zone for streaming games, the local experience isn’t exactly perfect. The device cannot play most modern, popular games on Android and isn’t designed to.
However, the Kickstarter-exclusive price of $199 like the perfect sweet spot for a device like this.
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While the Abxylute console feels great to play games on, it is held back not by itself. Microsoft and Nvidia’s streaming capabilities can be hit or miss, so we were tentative before using it.
Here’s the good news though, each app runs flawlessly and as intended. Browsing Game Pass for something to test feels as it does on console, mobile, and PC. There’s no game we threw at it – including Blinx the Time Cat – that ever felt off.
We played a variety of titles, including Forza Horizon 5 and the original Dead Space, and time and time again, it any time we had issues with streaming, it was rarely the hardware’s fault. Even in prime conditions (our router is in our office where we test everything), Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now would run into issues.
Where we think this could be assisted with, is that Abxylute hasn’t used a particularly strong Wi-Fi module. No Wi-Fi 6 is something you can deal with, but the distance before the device begins to drop signal is like walking on a tightrope.
Using some emulation, we found that the Abxylute console has a hard ceiling of some 2D Dreamcast games, and 30FPS while playing PSP games. When we loaded up God of War 2 on PS2, it began to suffer with a maximum of 20FPS.
For older games, like Super Castlevania IV and Metal Gear Solid on PS1, we found the sweet spot. All these retro games run nearly flawlessly (pushing up the resolution in some PS1 games gave us frame drops), and the Hall Effect sticks offer a comfortable, reliable experience.
Despite being warned by Abxylute to avoid native Android gaming, we still did try. Of course, they weren’t lying by saying that this wouldn’t be the best choice to go for. Genshin Impact became a lush PowerPoint, while Diablo Immortal crashed straight to the home screen.
We knew this was a foolish venture and sure enough, it was.
Should you buy it?
If you go all in on the Kickstarter pricing, we think that you should absolutely consider Abxylute’s debut handheld effort. Abxylute’s roadmap for fixes and designs that still need to be implemented feels like they’re not rushing for the latest hotness. It does feel as if the company is trying to make cloud gaming a high-end experience, rather than a last-ditch effort.
However, if you know that you still want to game locally, but have access to your Game Pass subscription, you should begin looking elsewhere.
Verdict – 4/5
Luxury hardware and a great screen bring this device together in ways that the competition couldn’t hope for. It is, however, still a cloud device first, and if you’re not going to be using that all the time, there’s not a lot else for you here.
The main drawbacks are the cloud gaming services available. It’s fascinating to watch this grow, and we think that when it does solidify from the ooze it currently inhabits, we’d still be recommending the Abxylute console in the future.