Struggling to justify the $400 (not even available in Australia) price tag of the Steam Deck after dropping $AU469 on the Nintendo Switch, $US219 (converted to about $304) on the Analogue Pocket and $US179 (about $248) on the play date? There are many excellent portable gaming systems on the market today, but the new GPD Win Max 2 hopes it can justify its $899 price tag (converted to about $1,248) with a generous 10-inch screen and keyboard, allowing users to tell it is a device they will also use as a productivity tool.
GPD has been producing these netbook/handheld gaming machines for a few years now, and the Win Max 2, first announced in March, is the latest and greatest. It kind of looks like a super-sized Nintendo DS, or even the foldable GBA SP, with physical game controls placed just below the screen, including a pair of analog sticks, a directional pad, four action buttons and two sets of shoulder buttons and even an extra pair. user programmable buttons on the back.
Nestled between the game controllers is a touchpad and below that is a full QWERTY keyboard with a dedicated row of function keys and even a Windows button, but with a highly compressed layout that might take some practice if you were hoping to type on it. The small keyboard seems fine for web browsing and maybe firing an email now and then, but typing out a full dissertation can be a time-consuming task.
Despite the possible keyboard issues, GPD really wants to position the Win Max 2 as a productivity tool and even includes a few magnetic covers for the game controllers that can be stored inside the device when not in use. But if you don’t want your boss to think you’re slacking, or you don’t trust that you won’t be distracted by the temptation of gaming, the joysticks and other buttons can be hidden.
Where the GPD Win Max 2 sets itself apart from the competition – especially Nintendo – is with a 10-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 2560×1600. That’s also a solid step up from the Steam Deck’s seven-inch, 1280×800 screen. Can it really drive games at that resolution at a frame rate over 30 fps? That remains to be seen, but the GPD Win Max 2 comes in two flavors: one with an AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor and one with an Intel Core i7-1260P under the hood.
Other standard features include two USB-C ports and three legacy USB 3.2 Type-A ports, an HDMI jack, a headphone jack, speakers, a 2MP webcam for video calls, motion detection for gaming, a fingerprint reader for biometric security, both microSD and regular SD memory card slots, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional 4G connectivity (with an add-on module), vibrating force feedback, and a 67Wh battery rated at approximately three hours playing processor-intensive AAA games, or higher, according to GPD up to eight hours with lighter tasks.
Pre-orders for the GPD Win Max 2 will start on July 7, but via the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The cheapest option, which will be available to first-time backers, is an $899 ($1,248) AMD model of which only 50 will be available. But with just 16GB of RAM and a meager 128GB of SSD storage, the gaming options are severely limited. (There are many PC games out there that require a lot more to install than just 128GB of storage.) An increase to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD pushes the price tag to $1,299 ($1,803) if you pre-order via Indiegogo, or $US1,459 ($2,025) if you’d rather wait for the Wind Max 2 to officially go on sale later.
That easily pushes the price of this handheld PC into the territory of a full-fledged laptop with an even bigger screen, although in that case you’ll have to settle for a connected gamepad and reduced portability. As with any crowdfunded product, there are risks involved, and while GPD has been manufacturing these types of devices for quite some time, as Liliputing points out, the company has also had issues with quality control, shipping hardware with the wrong components in it, defects, and customer support. which can be a challenge to deal with.