The Steam Deck isn’t your only option if you want a portable gaming PC – which is a good thing considering you’ll be waiting in line for Valve’s handheld for a long time – and it looks like one of the alternative options, the Onexplayer, could soon be a more tempting rival, with obvious plans to take over SteamOS.
As you may know, SteamOS is the Linux operating system installed on the Steam Deck that allows playing Windows games through Proton (a compatibility layer that is key to Valve’s compact PC).
Of course, since Onexplayer actually comes with Windows 11 installed, it runs Windows games natively. But the idea of using Valve’s SteamOS 3.0, as seen on the deck, is a possible avenue to be explored in the future, as Onexplayer VP Jason Zeng mentioned in an interview with WePC.
Zeng noted that “Steam Deck is a very influential product that has managed to leverage and bring its accumulated assets [the] the public’s attention to the portable gaming space” and that the company has been working on a Onexplayer range using either Linux or SteamOS (and therefore Proton) that could eventually launch.
The advantage of going this route is the use of an operating system designed for portable and therefore less equipped PCs (with integrated graphics for space reasons), Proton proving to be a good solution to run Windows games, especially now, what Valve has brought to its development could impact the refinement of 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 saw a performance boost thanks to the game being optimized to run better on SteamOS.
Analysis: SteamOS could give deck rivals some big advantages
So, the potential benefits on the performance front are clear for Onexplayer and other Steam deck alternatives in the portable gaming PC market. As PC Gamer who spotted the interview further points out, the main problems they encountered with the Onexplayer mini were that some games wouldn’t even load or crashed – and also that using Windows can be frustrating too, without a keyboard – and mouse setup.
SteamOS could certainly help address many of these bugbears, although a clear downside for the Onexplayer would still exist and that would be the price as the Steam deck is much cheaper (again another way Valve has exerted its influence 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 – especially as you can right now with no Steam deck Buy without having to wait until October 2022 for the device to ship (and that’s the current best-case scenario).