Handheld game consoles are great for gaming in a comfy bed, on your morning commute or just someplace out of the house. Unlike your mobile phone, a handheld console is designed specifically for gaming and offers a large library that isn't full of Bejeweled or Candy Crush clones. Whether you want a quick, relaxing experience (like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley) or something you can really sink your teeth into (like the latest Zelda and Mario games), consoles like PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch offer a lot of different experiences to choose from.
Keep reading to find out which system is for you.
Credit: Tom's Guide
If you're looking for quality handheld gaming at a low price and without any frills like stereoscopic 3D visuals, then the Nintendo 2DS is the system to get. Despite being simpler and cheaper than the Nintendo 3DS, the 2DS has access to the same huge library of excellent 3DS games, save for New 3DS exclusives. It's also ideal for younger kids, as the system is made of one solid piece without any breakable hinges.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL is the middle entry in Nintendo's 3DS lineup, sporting the increased performance and clamshell design of the New 3DS XL but ditching the 3D capabilities in favor of a lower price. Like the New 3DS XL, the New 2DS XL sports a C-Stick and two extra shoulder buttons, and can play all 3DS and DS titles in addition to a handful of New 3DS exclusives. The New 2DS XL bumps the screen size from a 3.5-inch top screen and 3-inch bottom screen to a 4.8-inch top and 4.1-inch bottom screen, meaning it has the same screen size as the New 3DS XL but in a much smaller design.
The New 2DS XL's clamshell design is less suited to young kids, but the supersleek form factor and lower price make this device a really compelling alternative for people who aren't interested in 3D.
Credit: Tom’s Guide
While it might not be as popular as Nintendo's handhelds, Sony's PlayStation Vita is still a strong contender in the handheld gaming space. Home to big-name exclusives like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Killzone Mercenary, Vita has also accrued a wealth of beloved indie games. Japanese visual novels and role-playing games are plentiful on the system, as are Western indie titles like Don't Starve and Rogue Legacy. The system also lets you access many downloadable PS One and PSP classics, making it a much better way to play retro games than the lackluster PlayStation Classic.
On the hardware side, Vita uses a 5-inch capacitive touch screen and a unique, rear-mounted touchpad for use with games like LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway. Thanks to the Vita's Remote Play functionality, you can even use this device to play your PS4 games when you're away from your TV. While the Vita is a bit hard to track down these days, it's still receiving new games to this date, and remains a great buy in 2018 due to just how versatile it is.
The New Nintendo 3DS XL is the highest-end member of the 3DS family. That means it's fully compatible with all original 3DS downloads and game carts, plus exclusive New 3DS releases like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and a bevy of Super Nintendo classics. The 3DS library is vast, with high-profile Nintendo releases like Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Pokémon Sun and Moon and Luigi's Mansion, big third-party titles like Monster Hunter Generations, a long list of classic Virtual Console games, and many smaller and indie offerings like Pushmo and BoxBoy.
The dual-screen design of New 3DS XL uses a stereoscopic 3D top screen and a touch-sensitive bottom screen accompanied with traditional button controls. New 3DS XL systems have a little more horsepower compared to original 3DS systems, and include a C-Stick for dual analog control, as well as two additional shoulder buttons.
The Switch is Nintendo's latest home console, but it's also the company's latest handheld console. The device allows you to switch play modes seamlessly; one moment, you're playing Super Mario Odyssey on your TV, and the next moment, without even pausing the game, you can pull the system out of its dock and continue playing anywhere you wish.
The system's unique controllers detach from the sides of the screen, allowing various play styles, from a traditional dual-analog setup to one reminiscent of the Wii remote. The system's stellar game lineup includes must-have exclusives like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee and Octopath Traveler; big AAA titles such as Dark Souls and Doom; and a great selection of indie games like Stardew Valley, Celeste and Shovel Knight.
Credit: Tom’s Guide