Logitech G Cloud home screen

Failure from the future of gaming

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

Logitech hasn’t been a major player in the Android ecosystem, but in its first big shot, it’s tying its wagon to the growth of mobile cloud gaming. The Logitech G Cloud is a $350 Android gaming machine with access to all the content in the Play Store and, most importantly, cloud gaming optimization on GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Games.

Sadly, while G Cloud offers plenty of gameplay, and the controls feel very precise, it casts a net so wide that it fails to excel at anything. The Google Crashed and burned trying to make Stadia a success, but other cloud services are adding new games and subscribers all the time. If cloud gaming is the future (and I personally think it is), it might make sense to have a dedicated piece of hardware for high-end game streaming — but not this piece of hardware.

About this article: I bought Logitech G Cloud for my own use and tested it for about a month.

Logitech G Cloud controls

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

The Logitech G Cloud is roughly the same size and shape as the Nintendo Switch. However, it is actually more comfortable to hold, thanks to a more hand-friendly shape. It’s all made of hard plastic, though the texture on the back makes it sturdier. The control layout is consistent with almost any game controller today – you have a pair of thumb sticks, a shoulder button and a trigger on each side, and a D-pad and a set of ABXY buttons on the face. There is also the device’s home button, as well as a “G button” on the other side. Unfortunately, the G button is woefully underused. It opens the Xbox Cloud Games menu when you’re in a game, but that seems to be the thing.

The thumbsticks are asymmetrical, like the switch, with a similar range of motion. The shorter stems mean it’s a bit less refined than an Xbox or PlayStation controller, but it feels smooth and sturdy. The rest of the buttons are similarly stable, and the triggers have just the right amount of movement and resistance. Overall, the G Cloud feels great in hand.

Overall, the G Cloud feels great in hand.

The 7-inch 1080p screen isn’t the sharpest or brightest (it tops out at 450 nits), but it’s a reasonable choice for this device. You’re not likely to find a cloud or Android game that would really benefit from a higher-res screen, and I don’t see too many people using this device outdoors where they’re less likely to find a strong Wi-Fi signal—an absolute necessity for streaming games. Likewise, it might be nice to have a refresh rate above 60Hz, but it’s not worth hitting the battery when a few games will benefit. And strangely for a cloud-first gaming machine, there isn’t Wi-Fi 6 or 6E the support.

Logitech G Cloud shoulder buttons

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

G Cloud runs on Android 11, which is now two versions out of date. It’s actually a bit surprising that Google allowed this device to have such an old version of the OS, but it has the Play Store and all the usual Google apps. Although you might not realize it’s Android at all if you’re using Logitech’s default launcher.

The G Cloud UI interface is dated, almost completely hiding tried-and-true Android interface features like notification shade and on-screen navigation. The launcher shows apps in a timeline, but the list keeps changing as apps start and stop in the background. You can’t even multitask — trying to open a second app prompts you to close the first app. If you switch to tablet mode, G Cloud behaves in the more typical Android way, but the hardware controls are mostly useless, and there are more UI glitches. The software is a real weak point, but it can hypothetically be fixed through updates.

Logitech gcloud wallpaper

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

Logitech’s software chops are certainly lacking, but they know how to build reliable hardware. The closest counterpart in the Android space in terms of brand name recognition might be the Shield Portable, which launched in 2013. The controls and hardware quality were similarly excellent on this device, but the form factor was quite chunky in comparison. In some ways, G Cloud is the Shield sequel I’ve been desperately wanting for some time in the years since the original was released. Although the time for this approach to mobile games has come and gone.

The Snapdragon 720G chipset in G Cloud is overrated and the price is unnecessarily inflated.

Putting powerful hardware in a gaming mobile is usually a good thing — the G Cloud has a Snapdragon 720G, which is powerful enough to play high-end Android games at 1080p. However, cloud gaming is supposed to be the focus of a device labeled “Cloud,” but there is no mobile data option. The result is a handheld device that straddles two worlds and fails to control either.

The truth is, physical controls are not so important in Android games anymore. The past decade has seen mobile devices converge on the flat-panel glass form factor, and touch controls in games become much better — or at least people are used to them (in 2020, Only a third of AA readers used a console). Take Fortnite, for example. It became the most popular game on mobile devices in the world even before it got console support in 2019. Therefore, having a handheld device for Android gaming seems pointless.

Logitech gcloud xbox

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

On the cloud gaming side, G Cloud has a lot more than it needs to run games. All you technically need for cloud gaming is enough power to decode a high-definition video stream without introducing too much lag. The Snapdragon 720G chipset in G Cloud is overrated and may have played a factor in unnecessarily inflating the price. And that ultimately signals “game over” for G Cloud — the $350 price tag is simply unjustified. There are other Android mobile devices out there from brands like Anbernic, Retroid, Ayn, and more, and while they aren’t as optimized, G Cloud is still an even worse value.

G Cloud’s value proposition might have been stronger if Stadia wasn’t headed for the gallows. Google’s streaming technology is great, and it was nice to use it on G Cloud. I have to think that when Logitech started designing this hardware, Stadia could reasonably have been expected to still be around in late 2022. Now, we’re left with GeForce Now and Xbox as the market leaders, both of which are no match for Stadia – at least in my experience. It seems to stutter more during periods of high use, and while there are much wider game libraries, it’s not as user-friendly.

Logitech G Cloud Bottom

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

For those who are very into classic game emulators, G Cloud could make a little more sense. It handles nearly all games during the N64 era with aplomb, but emulation often requires a fix to get games to run perfectly, and Logitech’s unfamiliar software makes that even more frustrating. Although it can’t play the most demanding Gamecube games—a typical benchmark for Android mobile devices—without an immediate hiccup that could be a deal-breaker for hobbyists.

Logitech G Cloud review: The verdict

Logitech G Cloud Pixel 7

Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

If you’re going to add another mobile device to your arsenal, it has to do something your phone can’t — G Cloud fails at that. Logitech’s only sure win is the battery life, which can reach 10-12 hours. But for $350?

The fact of the matter is that Logitech G Cloud does not exist in a vacuum. Despite its solid controls and battery life, it’s not competitively priced. For just $50 more, you can get the Steam Deck, which plays PC games from the Steam library, basically every emulator can run, and offers cloud gaming via browser. If Valve’s portable is just too bulky or quick to run out of juice, there’s a Nintendo Switch for $50 less than the G Cloud. Nintendo games may not be as advanced as what you can stream via GeForce Now or Xbox, but the selection is better than native Android games, and Nintendo is already dabbling in cloud versions of some hard-to-access games.

You already own a device that’s almost as capable of gaming as the G Cloud: your phone

Even if you don’t own one of these gaming devices, you already own a device that’s almost as capable of gaming as the G Cloud: your phone. Install an Xbox controller, pair it over Bluetooth, and your phone can be a better gaming center than the G Cloud. The experience will also be better when it comes to managing apps without getting in the way of Logitech tweaks for Android. As an added bonus, your phone gets mobile data, which theoretically allows you to stream games away from Wi-Fi (even if 5G often falls short of the blazing speeds we were promised).

Gamers are programmed to look for the best specs, but that’s not what matters in cloud gaming. Logitech has given the G Cloud more power than you need for streaming, and Razer is about to go even further With Edge and Snapdragon G3X Gen 1 chipset. To me, this seems like a bug. Manufacturers should go the other way to make a handheld equivalent of Chromecast — something lightweight and bulky that streams games without breaking the bank. Otherwise, you should just use your phone.

Logitech G Cloud gaming console

Logitech G Cloud gaming console

#Failure #future #gaming

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