An OLED gaming handheld rises up to challenge the Steam Deck

Promotional image of the Zotac Zone gaming handheld.

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.

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.