Logitech G Cloud review: A handheld built for Xbox Game Pass - Business Insider
- Created on Friday, 27 January 2023 12:03
- Published on Sunday, 29 January 2023 03:11
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- The Logitech G Cloud is a handheld console with support for cloud gaming.
- It lets you stream games from services like Game Pass, and can function as an Android tablet.
- The device's battery life is great, but it's pricey and can only stream games over Wi-Fi.
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The Logitech G Cloud is designed to be a dedicated handheld console for mobile and cloud gaming. It mixes the build of a portable system, like the Nintendo Switch Lite, with the utility of an Android tablet — all in one $350 device.
But, unlike the Switch, the G Cloud doesn't have its own library of exclusive games to play. Instead, the device promotes the use of cloud gaming subscription services that work like the video game industry's version of Netflix.
Rather than download a title or pop in a cartridge, you can stream popular Xbox and PC games over Wi-Fi directly to the handheld. And since the games are being streamed from more powerful hardware, you can get high-end graphics.
The G Cloud also has access to the Google Play Store, so you can still opt to install popular Android games like Fortnite and Minecraft, but the performance of downloaded titles will be limited by the G Cloud's built-in processor.
After testing the G Cloud, we've been impressed by the device's solid streaming performance, lightweight design, and long battery life, but there are some limitations that hold it back from being the ultimate cloud gaming handheld.
The Logitech G Cloud is a handheld Android device built for mobile and cloud gaming. It has an integrated controller and support for services like Xbox Game Pass. Performance is solid over Wi-Fi but it’s a bit pricey for what you get.
- Surprisingly light device with responsive controls
- Impressive battery life
- Simple setup thanks to Android operating system
- Support for every major cloud gaming service
What needs work
- No exclusive games
- Pricey for what you get
- No option for mobile data
- Can't run apps simultaneously in gaming mode
The G Cloud has an HD touchscreen and long battery life
The G Cloud has a similar form factor to other handheld consoles, like the Nintendo Switch. It feels light in hand but has a sturdy build.
The integrated gamepad will feel familiar to anyone with prior console experience. The G Cloud also has rounded rear grips with grooved plastic that actually make it more comfortable to hold for long play sessions when compared to the Switch.
The G Cloud uses a relatively standard LCD touchscreen with a Full HD resolution of 1080p. The display looks good, but it does lack the improved contrast that comes with OLED screens featured on newer iPhones and the Switch OLED.
The device's bottom-facing headphone and USB ports are unobtrusive, though it makes the handheld more difficult to place on a stand while charging or using tablet mode. The G Cloud's stereo speakers feel powerful for a handheld device, and it also has built-in microphones for voice chat.
The battery of the G Cloud might be its most impressive feature, lasting for more than 12 hours under normal play conditions. You can easily go a week without charging and play regularly before the battery dies.
G Cloud lets you stream games from popular services like Xbox Game Pass
As its name implies, the G Cloud pushes cloud gaming as one of its main features, and it supports all the major players in this space. The device comes pre-installed with the Xbox Game Pass, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Steam Link apps.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the most popular service of the bunch. It's a $15 monthly subscription that gives members access to hundreds of streaming titles from PC and Xbox consoles. If you have an Xbox Series X or One X console, you can also stream games from those systems to the G Cloud on your home network for free.
Once you've subscribed to a service, streaming games from the cloud requires a strong, stable internet connection, and the G Cloud has built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your home network. Unfortunately, the device lacks support for mobile data, but you can connect to a phone's mobile hotspot to stream games on the go.
With a good connection, cloud games look great on the handheld. And since many cloud games are actually running off Xbox consoles and powerful PCs, the graphics are far more advanced than what you'd get by playing directly off the G Cloud's hardware. Even games originally built for Android, like Fortnite, can look better by streaming them versus playing them with the device's on-board graphics.
On the downside, streaming games creates a slight delay in the controls. Input delay can be frustrating when playing fast-paced shooters like Doom or Call of Duty, but the streaming experience feels shockingly close to playing a game locally when you have a strong enough internet connection.
It's a handheld, but its reliance on Wi-Fi doesn't feel very portable
The G Cloud may be a handheld console, but it doesn't feel like it was designed for portable use outside the home. Beyond concerns about the device's white plastic getting dirty on the road, the lack of cellular data means G Cloud must rely on hotspots for cloud gaming when traveling. This can impact the quality of gameplay due to a weak connection.
G Cloud can easily play downloaded Android apps on the go, but those games are already available on your smartphone, usually with an option for touchscreen control. Ultimately, it's easier and cheaper to carry around your phone and a separate controller with a clip for mobile gaming than it is to carry around the G Cloud in public or during a commute.
The lack of dedicated mobile data also makes it harder to use the G Cloud as a standard tablet when not gaming. So, while it's entirely possible to travel with the G Cloud, the question is how often you would actually be able to fully take advantage of its features outside of your home.
G Cloud lets you switch between a regular tablet interface and a gaming mode
Logitech developed its own version of Android for the G Cloud, so you can choose to run the device with a standard tablet interface or in a specialized gaming mode. This means that games and apps from the Google Play Store, like Spotify and YouTube, are fully compatible with G Cloud.
Gaming mode uses an interface that looks similar to the home screen on the PlayStation and Switch, giving you easy access to your most recent games and letting you save apps to the toolbar. However, G Cloud can't run apps and games simultaneously in gaming mode, so you can't listen to Spotify while playing a game, for example.
Gaming mode does appear to improve battery life, however; we saw less overall battery drain in gaming mode compared to running the same game in tablet mode. Common apps — like YouTube, Google Drive, and Netflix — all work without any issues, and the G Cloud's touchscreen keeps navigation simple. The handheld can also be rotated into portrait mode for apps that require it.
Logitech G Cloud vs. the competition
Even with its similar design and price point, it's important to recognize that the G Cloud isn't really a direct competitor to the Nintendo Switch. They are both handheld gaming devices, but the Switch offers a fully built platform with exclusive games, a dock for easy connection to your TV, local multiplayer with its built-in wireless controllers, and a social network for players to connect online.
The G Cloud, meanwhile, runs on Android and expects users to lean into existing services like Xbox Game Pass and Google Play to make the most of its capabilities. That also means that there are many other devices that can play the same games as the G Cloud for a similar or lower starting price.
However, G Cloud is less expensive than the Steam Deck, a $400 handheld PC released in 2022, but it's significantly less powerful. Steam Deck can run hundreds of PC games on its own in addition to cloud streaming capabilities. Battery life is much better on the G Cloud, though, since its hardware is less demanding.
Buyers should also keep in mind that a more direct competitor is on the way. Razer is launching its own cloud gaming handheld with Verizon, called the Razer Edge. It costs more than the G Cloud but has a better display and an option for mobile data.
Edge will use Razer's Kishi v2 controllers, which are removable and use USB-C when connected. Razer Edge will start at $400 for the Wi-Fi model, but the 5G model hasn't been priced yet.
Logitech G Cloud specs at glance
Should you buy it?
After about a month with the Logitech G Cloud handheld, we've come away happy with its overall performance, but it's tricky to recommend unless you're a very specific type of gamer.
Ultimately, the G Cloud is best for players who want a handheld that they can use around the house to stream popular Xbox and PC games. It's also a solid fit for people who want to play Android mobile games on a device that has a built-in controller.
But, at $350, the G Cloud is a bit expensive and its lack of mobile data makes it less appealing for travel than a handheld console like the Nintendo Switch. With a Switch, you can simply pop in a cartridge to play a AAA game on the go, but with G Cloud, you need access to Wi-Fi to really unlock its full potential.
If you already have a PC or Xbox as your primary gaming device, the G Cloud is a nice supplement to stream your games without occupying the TV, and it offers excellent performance for mobile titles and emulation. But if you're a casual gamer, you'll likely be better served by saving money and just pairing your phone with a controller.