Talking tech since 2003

We gamers love to game — there’s no mistaking that. But we still have lives to lead and responsibilities to take care of, and that means we can’t always be stretched out on the couch in front of our TV.

Handheld gaming systems allow us to stay gaming while we’re on the go. They’re the devices we toss in a bag and pull out in waiting rooms, on the train ride home, and while we’re waiting for our next flight in the airport. And at press time, in early 2018, they’re a dying breed.

There are still a few consoles striving for your attention. But in our latest look at the state of handheld gaming systems, we find that one company owns the space, while the one competitor left is fading fast.

Nintendo Switch

But wait, you say! The Nintendo Switch is a home console! To those who make this argument, I say — you’re right. It is a home console. But out of its dock, it’s also a handheld gaming console, and it’s the closest we’ve come so far to realizing the dream: being able to play the same game while we’re both home and away.

The Switch is a bit underpowered compared to its next generation competitors, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This means the home console side of the equation isn’t going to blow anyone away. But the Switch is a stellar handheld, sporting a 720p display and the same console-quality titles you get on a home system. If you care about portable gaming, the Switch is now where it’s at, and for the foreseeable future, where things are headed. Additionally, if you often love to stay on a virtual playground of the game then seek Animal Jam free membership.

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo continues to support the 3DS, though fans who’ve moved onto the Switch may not understand why. The answer lies in install base: the Switch is relatively new, but the 3DS, which has existed for over 5 years, has sold tens of millions of units. The 3DS family, including the 2DS, also offers lower-priced options to those who can’t drop $300 on a new system.

The system already has an amazing back catalog of titles, and you can expect to see new releases for the Nintendo 3DS going into the next year or two. But make no mistake: time is winding down on Nintendo’s handheld-only system.

PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita had the potential to do big things. Sony promised games on the system would reach AAA console quality, but alas, the support just wasn’t there from big publishers.

The funny thing is, the PlayStation Vita — just over six years old now — is still worth picking up at the right price. It’s graphically more impressive than the 3DS, and for a long time, it was the place to find quirky indie titles that you could play while traveling. But don’t confuse the Vita’s vast indie library with the possibility of future support. Releases are slowing to a crawl for the console, and the Switch is quickly becoming the place for indies to put their titles. If you have the extra cash, the Switch is the better bet. If you’re looking to spend less and can nab a Vita and some games for under $150, the Vita isn’t a bad system to own.

What are your thoughts on the current state of handheld console gaming? Let us know in the comments below!

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