The Steam Deck isn’t your only option if you want a portable gaming PC – which is just as well given that you’ll be waiting for a long time in the queue for Valve’s handheld – and it looks like one of the alternative options, the Onexplayer, might soon be a more tempting rival, with apparent plans to adopt SteamOS.
As you may be aware, SteamOS is the Linux operating system that is installed on the Steam Deck, and allows for playing Windows games via Proton (a compatibility layer that’s key to Valve’s compact PC).
As the Onexplayer actually comes with Windows 11 installed, of course, it runs Windows games natively. But the idea of using Valve’s SteamOS 3.0, as seen on the Deck, is a possible route that could be taken in the future, as mentioned by Jason Zeng, VP of Onexplayer, in an interview with WePC (opens in new tab).
Zeng observed that the “Steam Deck is a very influential product that has managed to leverage its accumulated assets and bring [the] public’s attention to the field of portable gaming”, and that the company has been working on an Onexplayer range that uses either Linux or SteamOS (and therefore Proton) which might be launched at some point down the line.
The advantage of going this route is using an operating system that’s designed for portable and therefore lesser-specced PCs (running integrated graphics due to space issues), with Proton proving itself to be a good solution for running Windows games, especially now Valve has brought its development might to bear on honing the compatibility layer.
As we’ve seen, more games are being optimized for Proton, and a great recent example highlighted in the interview is Elden Ring, which witnessed a performance boost thanks to tweaking made to the game to help it run better on SteamOS.
Analysis: SteamOS could grant some major benefits to Deck rivals
The potential benefits on the performance front are clear for Onexplayer, then, and indeed other Steam Deck alternatives in the portable gaming PC market. As PC Gamer (opens in new tab), which spotted the interview, further points out, the main problems they encountered with the Onexplayer mini was that some games just wouldn’t even load up, or would crash out – and also that using Windows can be frustrating, too, without a keyboard and mouse setup.
SteamOS could certainly help address many of those bugbears, although one clear disadvantage would still remain for the Onexplayer, and that would be the price tag, with the Steam Deck pitched a good deal cheaper (again, another way in which Valve has exercised its clout to gain a big advantage in the portable PC market).
That said, the price of the Onexplayer is, as you’d expect, reflected in the specs (with a much higher resolution display for starters), and more competition in the handheld PC market would certainly be welcome – particularly as right now, you can’t buy a Steam Deck without having to wait until October 2022 for the device to ship (and that’s the current best-case scenario).