The high cost of PC gaming is undoubtedly one of the biggest barriers to its adoption by causal gamers. So what if you could get a triple-A PC experience on a device that not only cost the fraction of a gaming rig, but one that you could carry around in your pocket?
That's the promise of the Portable Gaming System (PGS), a sub-$300 handheld games console doing the rounds on Kickstarter. The device, created by Detroit-based PGS Lab, claims to be the most powerful PC-based console of its kind and according to its creators is capable of running "pretty much any PC game on the market".
The PGS looks a bit like a mash-up between smartphone and console, and is capable of booting up in both Android 6 and Windows 10 modes. While svelte in stature, the device packs in a 2.56GHz Intel Atom X7-Z8750 CPU, 16-core Intel HD graphics accelerator and up to 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, making it more like a shrunk-down gaming laptop than anything else.
In fact, PGS Lab reckons its handheld could quite comfortably replace your home or office PC, thanks to its impressive hardware and wide support for various wired and wireless standards, including USB 3.0, micro HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and cellular connectivity. This means you can also use the console to stream to and from other PC-compatible devices in the house.
The PGS is being offered in two varieties on its Kickstarter page: the Lite model comes with a 5.5-in 720p display, 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC flash storage, while the Hardcore variant gets a slightly larger but much better 5.7in 2560 x 1440 QHD screen, double the RAM and 128GB storage of the superior solid-state drive (SSD) variety.
During tests, PGS Lab claim to have hit at least 30 frames per second on titles including Batman: Arkham Knight, Dark Souls 2, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Mirror's Edge. While impressive, these are far from the latest PC games out there. It's also worth noting that Batman, Dark Souls and MGR ran at these rates with the graphics settings set to medium, while the others only hit 30fps at their lowest graphics settings.
Still, with the Hardcore and Lite models costing just $280 (£214, €252) and $230 (£176, €207) respectively, the PGS costs significantly less than comparable systems out there like the Nvidia Shield. The price point does beggar belief somewhat and we've seen more than our fair share of great-sounding crowdfunding projects that ultimately turned out to be a massive disappointment or otherwise a straight-up lie. That being the case, we'll remain cautiously optimistic about the PGS until it ships, expected to be in March 2017.