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Gaming on the go

Level up your trip or commute with the best gaming handhelds…

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With a handheld game console, you don’t have to leave your favourite games at home. If you’re commuting to work or jetting off on another summer adventure, you can easily bring them with you.

Stuck in the airport? Fire up your campaign and get a few missions in. Train delay? Take down that difficult boss and make sure your journey doesn’t go completely off the rails. Whatever the situation, they’re a proper game changer no matter where you are.

So, here are a few portable gaming greats, with a look at why they’re worth a spot in your backpack…

Asus ROG Ally - for glare-free gaming

If we’re lucky, we get the odd spell of sun here in blighty. And while you can’t knock a glorious summer day, it does make it a pain trying to see what’s going on with your phone or handheld console.

Not with the Asus ROG Ally though. Their designers had the bright idea of combining anti-glare treatment with a max brightness of 500 nits. Making whatever you’re playing – even if it’s the darkest horror title around – clear at all times on the full HD 120Hz display. So, while the sun’s beating down at the beach, you can still dish out a beat down without missing a single strike!

And if the weather’s an absolute scorcher, the Ally’s got you covered. There’s a pair of handy fans onboard that stop the handheld from overheating. Plus, when you flick on the Performance Cooling mode, it’ll keep its cool even better. So, the Ally won’t ever feel like it’s about to melt in your hands when the great outdoors (and the onscreen action) starts to heat up.

Lenovo Legion Go - for big battery life

When you’re out, the last thing you want is your handheld to hit 0%. The Lenovo Legion Go can go the distance though. If you’re playing a less intensive indie title, like Hades 2 or Stardew Valley, you should be able to squeeze about 5 hours of play from it. That’s easily a journey to work, the return leg, plus a bit extra.

It’s also got one trick up its sleeve that some of these other handhelds don’t have, and that’s fast charging. Once you’re home (or back at the villa), plug it in, and you’ll be ready to go again in only 30 minutes. That’s a level of speed that Sonic would be proud of!

And if you still need a bit more juice, and there’s no plug socket in sight, remember to take a portable power bank with you too. It can be a life saver.

MSI Claw A1M - for portable power

If you want more power, and are used to a stonking PC setup at home, the MSI Claw A1M is a good shout. It’s rocking an Intel Core Ultra 7 processor, backed up by Intel Arc Graphics. Giving you enough oomph to run the latest titles with pretty high graphics settings.

Because of its 120Hz refresh rate, it’ll easily keep up with the fastest races too. There’ll be none of that pesky lag knocking you off track - which can make a huge difference, especially when you’re aiming for that top spot on the podium!

You won’t even need to pack some headphones or a headset either, as it’s got a set of dual 2W speakers built-in. They’re Hi-Res Audio certified, meaning you’ll hear every part of the soundtrack and any important sound effects loud and clear. Nobody’s going to be able to sneak up on you again for a surprise attack. Unless they’re like a trained ninja or something…

Logitech G Cloud - for streaming games anywhere

You’re on your hols and you’ve had a long day seeing the sights. You’ve done your 10,000 steps (that hill really wasn’t small) and now you just want to chill out. Well, make sure you’ve packed the Logitech G Cloud.

Connect to your Air BnB or hotel’s Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to stream AAA titles straight from the cloud. Xbox Cloud Gaming and NVIDIA GeForce NOW come packed with plenty of games to try out – a few hundred in all. So, there’ll always be something new to get stuck into. And it’ll be like you never left your Xbox or gaming PC back at home.

Nintendo Switch OLED - for multiplayer battles

You could argue that the Nintendo Switch spawned a whole bunch of modern portable gaming consoles. And with the Nintendo Switch OLED, you’ll have the latest version of the console, with all those extra bells and whistles on.

If you hadn’t guessed it from the name, the OLED Switch comes with a beefed-up screen – it’s bigger, has much sharper contrast, and way nicer colours. Luigi’s green overalls have never looked this shiny. Somehow, they’ve managed to make the console a lot slimmer too, which can only be a good thing when you’re on the move.

It’s especially good if you’re travelling with your mates too. When you slide off both Joy Cons, each one becomes its own mini controller. Meaning you can go head-to-head in some local multiplayer races or matches while you chill out on the balcony. Let the battle commence…

And speaking of Switch games, we haven’t even mentioned the best ones yet. The Switch has a huge library of exclusive titles that you literally can’t play anywhere else. You’ve got your Mario Kart 8 (for competitive evenings in) and your Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (for single-player questing while you’re out). But for a hit of nostalgia, it’s got to be Pokémon. Those little critters aren’t going to catch themselves!

Nintendo Switch Lite - for travelling light

If you want to get even more portable, the Nintendo Switch Lite is the way to go. It’s literally been designed from the ground up for on-the-go gaming, letting you take the fight from the poolside to the park.

Weighing in at just 276g, it’s incredibly light. So, you’ll barely notice it’s there when you put it in your rucksack. And because the Joy Con controllers are built into the console, you won’t accidentally leave them on the plane after your flight. Phew!

iPhone 15 Pro Max - for backpack-free days out

If you’re more of a casual gamer – and don’t want to carry a console round with you – you don’t have to. With your phone, you’ve already got a gaming machine right there in your pocket. And it’s not all just Angry Birds and Candy Crush nowadays either (although they’re great for playing a quick level or two on your lunch break).

Phones are way more powerful now. Meaning they can run games with prettier graphics and bigger worlds. Devs are already porting plenty of top titles over from consoles to mobile. From the sneaky Assassin’s Creed Mirage to the creepy Resident Evil 4 remake. Being able to play epic story-driven experiences literally anywhere sounds pretty ace to us.

On the iPhone 15 Pro Max, both look epic, as hardware-boosted ray tracing makes the lighting extra realistic. So, keep an eye on the shadows, as you never know what might be lurking in there…

The 120Hz, 6.7” display is a real looker too. All that high-octane gameplay stays super slick, and because of its smoother edges, it’s really comfortable to hold. You can play for hours and won’t have to hit pause on your session. Nice.

iPad Mini - for casual gamers

Got a few holiday board game faves that always take up valuable room in your luggage? Get yourself an iPad Mini instead. You won’t have to squeeze in travel Monopoly and five different sets of Top Trumps this time round. And that’s because you can play digital versions of them all on the one tablet.

Just fire up the App Store, have a browse, and download any games that take your fancy before you head off. That way, when it’s tipping it down outside on your staycation, you and the kids won’t get too bored when your plans change last minute. You’ll thank us later…

The touch screen interface is really easy to use too, so even the non-gamers (like your nan) can get involved without having to learn a load of complicated controls. Plus, you don’t have to faff around with all the physical counters and pieces either. Or risk doing your back in trying to grab the dice that have rolled under the sofa.

Want to learn even more about these portable gaming consoles? Check out this piece – Asus ROG Ally or Steam Deck: which handheld wins? – where we pit two of the biggest handhelds against each other. And if you need something new to play on yours, get some inspo and head over to our upcoming games page for the latest details.

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