Cloud gaming is in an interesting place, at least for us Android users. In our eyes, this does not look very good, Google announcing the closure of Stadia and refunds to be made for games purchased. It’s just not a reassuringly good look for anyone who might consider dropping money on a cloud version of their favorite game. While Google may be taking a step back, other companies are stepping forward, with Logitech recently announcing the G-Cloud portable gaming device.
Available later this month, but pre-order now for the price of just $299 (regular price $349), the G Cloud is what NVIDIA’s SHIELD Portable should have ultimately evolved into. It’s a relatively underpowered device that takes full advantage of cloud-based systems that companies like Microsoft and NVIDIA pour a ton of resources into. Think of G Cloud as a Steam Deck on Android, but with much less onboard computing power.
For hardware, we have a plastic body complete with all the triggers, bumpers, and buttons one might need to play. It’s a very solid body with a bit of heft thanks to a large 6,000mAh built-in battery and a 7-inch Full HD (60Hz) display. All buttons, thumbsticks, D-Pad, triggers and bumpers feel solid. To put it simply, it doesn’t look like a $349 device, if that makes sense. Inside we have a Snapdragon 720G processor and 4GB of RAM running Android 11, with a custom launcher created by Logitech to act as the interface you’ll primarily see for entering and exiting games. There’s also a tablet mode, if you want it at some point. A full specs recap can be seen on our original announcement post. For anyone on the fence, it’s possible the specs are what seem a bit lacking. After all, it’s an SD720G with 4GB of RAM running a version of Android from over two years ago. I totally get it, and let me assure you, I felt the same way when I first discovered this device.
Now that I’ve used the device for cloud and Google Play gaming, I can honestly say these specs work great for what most might need, and the overall experience at the Early Bird price of $299 is pretty good. Do I wish the device could support higher refresh rates? Yes, that’s my number one complaint, but other than that the performance is surprisingly good, which makes perfect sense considering all this device has to do is have a solid WiFi connection to play. to the most demanding AAA titles in the world. We can all agree that’s what makes the idea of cloud gaming appealing, as all the graphics settings are set to ultra but don’t actually need the thousands of hardware dollars it takes to get there. The problem is that while it’s possible on G Cloud, you still can’t really experience the ultimate power of the cloud, as we’re still limited by the display specs of the machine. To reiterate, in the performance department, all this device needs is a 90-120Hz display and I’d be completely on board. Screen colors are good, brightness is super solid, and contrast levels are very pleasing. It really just needs that higher refresh rate that my eyes have become accustomed to.
The battery life is exceptional. To give examples, I tested a few things. To start, I downloaded a ton of games from Google Play, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, GTA: Vice City, Alto’s Odyssey, Crazy Taxi, and a few more of my favorites. For my gaming sessions, which never lasted more than an hour, this device lasted for days. I would come back every once in a while throughout the day, play the game, then put it away. A few hours later I was back and still had plenty of juice for more games. For cloud gaming it was the same, if not better. Since all I do is stream the game, I felt like the G Cloud was sipping juice while I was immersed in Cyberpunk 2077 via GeForce NOW or Xbox Trek to Yomi and Back 4 Blood. Logitech claims up to 12 hours of continuous play, so as long as you break that time, this device should have no problem giving you plenty of gameplay on a single charge. I was quite impressed here.
To conclude, if you are a fan of cloud gaming, I have no problem recommending this device. If you’re looking more for a Google Play portable gaming hub to play your favorite mobile games, while it works, I think you’re better off sticking to your phone or dedicated tablet with a paired Bluetooth controller (if the game supports such a thing). G Cloud just doesn’t have the processing power (or display chops) to take us where we want to be with Android-based games. On the cloud side, however, the performance is quite sufficient and the job is done. My only concern on this side is GeForce NOW. Will NVIDIA continue to support it? Although I hope they will, with the death of Stadia, I still feel like the writing is on the wall for other cloud gaming services.
TL version; DR: At the Early Bird price of $299, the G Cloud has excellent hardware and battery life. It’s the perfect entry point into the world of portable cloud gaming, as long as you don’t mind staring at a display that can’t exceed a frame rate of 60Hz.