Having trouble justifying the Steam Deck’s $US400 (not even available in Australia) price tag after dropping $AU469 on the Nintendo Switch, $US219 (converted to around $304) on the Analogue Pocket, and $US179 (around $248) on the Playdate? There’s a lot of excellent handheld gaming systems on the market today, but the new GPD Win Max 2 hopes it can justify its $US899 (converted to around $1,248) price tag with a generous 10-inch screen and a keyboard so users can tell themselves it’s a device they’ll use as a productivity tool too.
GPD has been churning out these netbook/handheld gaming machines for a few years now, and the Win Max 2, first announced back in March, is its latest and greatest. It more or less resembles a super-sized Nintendo DS, or even the folding GBA SP, with physical gaming controls positioned just below the screen that include a pair of analogue sticks, a directional pad, four action buttons, as well as two sets of shoulder buttons and even an extra pair of user-programmable buttons on the back.
Nestled in between the gaming controls 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 could take some practice if you were hoping to touch type on it. The tiny keyboard seems just fine for web browsing and maybe firing off the occasional email, but typing out a full dissertation on it could be a hand-cramping endeavour.
Despite the potential keyboard issues, GPD really wants to position the Win Max 2 as a productivity tool and even includes a pair of magnetic covers for the gaming controls that can be stashed away inside the device when not in use. But if you don’t want your boss thinking you’re slacking off, or if you don’t trust yourself not to be distracted by the lure of gaming, the joysticks and other buttons can be hidden away.
Where the GPD Win Max 2 differentiates itself from the competition — especially Nintendo — is with a 10-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 2560×1600. That’s also a solid step up over the Steam Deck’s seven-inch, 1280×800 display. Can it really power games at that resolution with a frame rate well over 30fps? That remains to be seen, but the GPD Win Max 2 will come in two flavours: 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 older USB 3.2 Type-A ports, an HDMI connection, a headphone jack, speakers, a 2MP webcam for video calls, motion sensing for gaming, a fingerprint reader for biometric security, both microSD and regular SD storage card slots, wifi, Bluetooth, optional 4G connectivity (with an add-on module), vibrating force feedback, and a 67 Wh battery that GPD claims will run for about three hours when playing processor intensive AAA games, or up to eight hours with lighter tasks.
Pre-orders for the GPD Win Max 2 will start on July 7 but through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The cheapest option, which will be available to the earliest backers, is an $US899 ($1,248) AMD model of which only 50 will be available. But with just 16GB of RAM and a measly 128GB of SSD storage, its gaming capabilities will be severely limited. (There are lots of PC games whose full install requires far more than just 128GB of storage.) A bump to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD pushes the price tag to $US1,299 ($1,803) if pre-ordering through 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-blown laptop which includes an even bigger screen, although you’ll have to settle for a connected gamepad in that case, and reduced portability. As with any crowdfunded product there are risks involved, and while GPD has been producing these kinds 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 inside, defects, and customer support that can be challenging to deal with.