I may or may not have had arguments online about it. I may or may not let it live rent free in my head, tearing me apart until I posted cringe online about it. I maaaaaay or maaaay not be too strapped to buy handhelds right now because my financial guy lied to me and need to space out another review with an opinion piece that doesn’t require me to spend my hard earned Biden bucks on Chinese electronics (Retroid, send me a pocket flip for me to make fun of). This might get ugly. Tears will be shed, bridges burned, lives stolen, hands clammy, palms sweaty, Mom’s spaghetti. And I say this from the behind the comfort of my monitor, sipping a chai tea latte in my jammies. *Sips tea* Life’s good, And we are very fortunate to live in a time where we can steal endless amounts of content from the internet and be in a position where the only thing we really argue about is the best place to enjoy it. Steam Deck vs. Odin 2. C’est la vie.

Anyway, back to the politics –

If you are here reading this you probably fall into one of three categories:

. . .

I’ll let you figure that out. But basically what we are doing is comparing high-end emulation doodads in the $300 to $600 range that pretty much hit the power ceiling from an emulation perspective, at least in theory, and as we gravitate away from power constraints, all we have left is their utility. You might be thinking “these devices are absolutely nothing alike and appeal to totally different niches” to which I will unequivocally ignore and continue to compare them. Because I have the power of God and anime on my side. Konnichiwa, m’Lord.

This will get spooky, and bad online opinions will haunt your dreams:

Let’s start with the Ayn Odin. The WORLDS MOST POWERFUL ANDROID HANDHELD… in 2021. I know when I go to apply for a lucrative position outside my pay grade, I will open with “Hi, I’m Joe, backer #742 of the Ayn Odin Pro. Early bird amiright?” My fiancee doesn’t like that one, but I can’t blame her since we’ve been eating clearance Kroger beans for 3 weeks haha I need money (this is a joke but feel free to feel bad for me). The console was flawed but hype as hell, and established Ayn as a competent but unreliable source of quality handhelds. Wait what? Yes. Like dear old Francis from Malcom in the Middle, when he finally comes around you know it’ll be a banger, if he ever shows up. Yeah… that sucked. Oh but Odin 2, the Squeaquel won’t have these issues right? …. right?

I do not possess an Odin 2 (I am not above accepting pre-licked devices RH). But I have owned an Odin 1, a Razer Kishi w/ a gen 1 Snapdragon phone, and a Retroid Pocket 2S (Flavortown, USA). So I have about as much of a valid opinion on the Odin 2 as [controversial character] has an opinion on [controversial opinion]. What I can tell you is that the build quality you can expect from Ayn is consistently very good (like Retroid) and durable enough to withstand being stepped on like 3 times at 3am (I woke up to pee, leave me alone). They make deliberate and conscious choices in their engineering to make a handheld that’s both comfortable and air tight on the inside, as WELL as being competitively priced. WOW. I think I might just buy one now (I will not contradict this later). Spec wise, the Odin 2 seems to follow a string of Snapdragon Gen 2 powered handhelds that takes our pathetic T618 devices and… Idk, posts them for sale or something? Me being an ignorant sheep of a man, I have no personal frame of reference other than my Gen1 smartphone, and even that forgoes the overclocking and active cooling measures taken by the Odin 2. This fun little ARM based processor can run just about everything without having to worry about tweaks, and when more console emulators get released on Android, this console will be everyones first choice to dig into (unless the T618 doesn’t die). Additionally, ARM based processors have the benefit of maximizing the amount of power vs performance vs battery life that makes your cell phone last all day on a single charge, unless you have an iphone 14 and below Apple nerfed. Congrats, decades have been spent on mobile processor R&D so that you can blow off work and take a 30 minute bathroom break and avoid your relatives on holidays. And trust me, they are probably avoiding you too.

You may have noticed I’ve been talking up a device I don’t even own. That’s because I’ve been harnessing my inner Redditor and nurtured my obsessive need to be the devil’s advocate. Now, the Redditor goggles are off and we need to touch grass for a second. Just because the console HAS the brute force and giggytfloppsies to handle higher end emulators, doesn’t mean it will… ever. Android just doesn’t have the emulator support you’ll see from a Windows, or even Linux device. For as long as we had computers, we had emulators. And those OSs are where we have the most support, bar none. Because of this… yeah I’m not going to buy this console. Because I *lights cigar* already own a Steam Deck *Tips Fedora obscuring my eyes* and I like it.

Now before I get into…. that handheld, I need to sit you down and have a heart to heart. Somewhere between much needed fatherly advice and a scolding. Now child, I’m not mad, angry, or even disappointed. But you cant just go door to door on Facebook and spam “just buy a steam deck” on every retro gaming post like a coked up overzealous Mormon looking to convert co-op housed millennials in San Francisco. They don’t want worship and eternal life, they just want access to clean water and affordable housing. Steam Deck owners are the vegans of retro gaming (I stole this joke, cancel me in the comments) and will always find ways into your posts about…. anything! “Hey should I get the Miyoo Mini or RG3XX?” “Well I love my STEAM DECK and think you should buy one too,” or “What front end should I use on my RP3+?” “For me its the Steam Deck, the best Retro Handheld.” So when that dude is just looking for something that runs N64 well and only has a budget of $100, MAYBE their best option is the RP2S. Or maybe they want that $1000 Aya Neo Geek Air OLED with Funky mode featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series™. Don’t judge, be kind. Don’t say: “hey, you wasted your money when Steam Decks start at $400, you big buffoon.” Say “Hey, you are a shining, brave, and handsome individual and I love you… like a cousin. An estranged cousin. One who I won’t think about for many years but politely say “hi” to at family BBQs and funerals.” Where was I? Idk. Anyways, Full Steam ahead (Ayooo).

Artists interpretation of how I feel about Steam Deck, Digital, by @dylanwatsonsoftware (2023)

The Steam Deck has been my biggest source of stress and enjoyment since having my 3rd girlfriend, and consistently has been my go-to for high-end emulation and playing titles I would normally want to play on my switch, but at a frame rate that is bearable. Given this article’s focus on just emulation, this console has enough horsepower to handle just about everything I throw at it with the only bottlenecks being the quality of the emulators and my own personal sanity. Which is a great thing because there’s only room for it to get better (not my sanity, I have medication for that). Sound familiar? Good, we are learning. The Steam Deck is the prolific beefy console, with a screen so poor that it’s almost comical to the rest of the package. Don’t get me wrong, that 3.5 update had me deleting vibrant deck and doing a full playthrough of psychonauts in a week because it feels good. The performance upgrades for emulation also undid the need for previous hardware tweaks in the past, which i welcome with tears of joy only experienced by a proud father, except for me its a para-social relationship to a multimillion dollar company.

Caption: Also Artists interpretation of how I feel about the Steam Deck, Digital, by Matt B. (2023).

Overall I’m happy with this device, but it’s also the bane of my existence. I’ve spent more time in EMU deck, switching back and forth from desktop to gaming mode, adjusting some settings and emulators and repeating, downloading the latest and greatest plugins that all require updating every time valve farts out a bug fix. That’s not even including the hardware modifications I’ve made to make the system marginally better like doing fancy analog stick mods because Aish told me to in a video, as well as changing out the thermal paste to thermal pads to thermal paste again and nearly bricking my console. No one can say that all of this was totally necessary and it should be fine out of the box with EMU deck installed, which…. yes…. but, and a big but. A but so big you can’t deny it: it doesn’t necessarily change the shorter battery life, battery drain in sleep mode, the bulk, the fan noise, and the heat it gives off in comparison to similar high end Android devices in this power range. Hmm yes, quite the chonky hot and loud one she is. But I love it. Buying this handheld a year ago was buying a promise from Valve that there will be significant software improvements over the course of time. And they delivered the goods. And I consumed greedily. For dumb tinkerererers like me, this is great… but sometimes I just want to play Wind Waker on a plane with a device haphazardly thrown in my bag and be able to turn it on without having to give a care. You CAN change the TDP and mess with the backend stuff to optimize your experience, but that can get hairy and not as streamlined. None of this is that big of a deal to me, I own the damn thing. The console is comfortable, it plays nearly all of my PC titles, and I paid a nice $400 entry fee and I’ve been hooked for nearly a year playing Wii U and PS4 era titles. After all that tweaking above, to me it’s still a big win. The heft and battery… is not. As of typing this, my desktop mode totally doesn’t work after the 3.5 update…. well…. crap.

Steam Deck

I Just Think It’s Neat, (2022)

Mind you, most of the Shakespearian esque blood feuds between Steam Deck and the Odin 2 come down to their blood…. and one dilemma alluded to above: Linux and Windows are just not primarily meant to be operated portably… mostly Windows. But dont tell me your Rockchip powered Linux doodad doesn’t have rough battery life, because it probably doesn’t to you but it does to our Lord and Savior, Retro Game Corps. May his batteries forever be charged. Anyway, ARM based processors packaged with a cool and hip version of Android will always net you a generally good battery life and sweet and neat backend optimization that x86 architecture just doesn’t really care about. I’m not giving Snapdragon too much credit here, it is literally their only job. You aren’t running Baldurs Gate 3 on high on a Snapdragon 888 no-sir-ee. That’s saved for the power hungry 200 watt sucking tanks hooked to your wall, bleeding the Earth of its Mako or something.

I love technology, I actually just fixed the desktop issue with the Steam Deck but totally broke the 3.5 update. Great. I guess thats it. anyway here are directions on how to crack an apple in half:

Sauce: https://www.instructables.com/Crack-an-Apple-in-Half-with-Your-Bare-Hands/

Step 1: Technique


This trick is all about the technique. As the video explains, humans are not strong enough to simply grab a hold of an apple and rip it apart. The secret is to use your hands in such a way that the harder you grip the more pressure is applied from the stem of the apple outward. Keep this idea in mind as we proceed to the next steps.

Step 2: Wiggle the Fleshy Part of Your Thumbs Into the Stem Area

Wiggle the Fleshy Part of Your Thumbs Into the Stem Area

Remove the stem and then wriggle the base of your thumbs (actually part of your palms) into where the stem was. The rest of your fingers go around the apple and rest on the bottom of the apple.

If you put your hands in this position without the apple and pull your fingers toward your wrists, you will notice that your thumbs roll out. This rolling is the force that will split the apple open.

Step 3: Grip and Roll

Grip and Roll
Grip and Roll
Grip and Roll

With your hands set as described in step 2 squeeze hard and let your thumbs roll outward. You will feel the ripping force increase as your grip tightens. As you grip harder, the apple will break in half.

Step 4: Some Things I Have Learned

Some Things I Have Learned

There are a few things that I have learned from teaching this to people.

1. Pretty much anyone can do this. I learned it from my mom and even my 12-year-old boy scouts can do it – even the skinny ones.

2. It sometimes helps to use your knee to strengthen your grip. Try pushing on your knee with you fingers as shown in the photo.

3. It sometimes helps to start out with a softer apple or a very crisp ripe one. If the apple is not ripe, it might be more difficult.

4. Size matters. You will eventually be able to crack all sizes, but it may be easier to start with one that fits comforably in your hand – not to big, not too small.