Cloud gaming is a really unusual concept right now. On one hand, you have major companies investing significantly in it, names such as Microsoft and Nvidia, and then on the other hand, it's clear that the technology is still quite rudimentary and niche and lacks refinement to truly catapult it onto the global consumer market. Still, the point of cloud gaming is that it is widely accessible, and can be used on a smartphone, tablet, game console, PC, TV, and so forth, and this is the exact point that makes Logitech's latest creation all the more unusual.
Known as the Logitech G Cloud, this device is a cloud gaming handheld system, which in effect means a tablet in a chassis styled like a Nintendo Switch Lite that plays video games by streaming them from the cloud. If you have been playing around with cloud gaming previously, you might be wondering why you'd need to invest in a product like this, as it doesn't do much differently to other platforms that can utilise cloud gaming at their most fundamental levels. It doesn't natively read and render games, and it operates using the Android 11 OS suite, yet somehow, this device clocks in at £330 / €359. It is the definition of niche, and while that will alienate a lot of interested users, I'm here to tell you that the G Cloud has some very impressive moments.
But before getting to the tech under the hood and why the device itself is rather impressive, let me just touch on the elephant in the room again. As the G Cloud relies on external cloud gaming platforms to access video games, you will need to slap the price of a subscription service onto the retail price tag of this device, and then to add to this, you'll need a stable and strong Wi-Fi connection to be able to play the latest games. Logitech and cloud services will tell you that 20 Mbps will do the trick, but in reality, this will make for a rather choppy and ugly gameplay experience, and to really get the most out of the G Cloud, you'll need much faster Wi-Fi to enjoy this system at its best. And if you live in an area with slower than usual broadband speeds, or attempt to play too far away from your router, you will notice a severe impact on the quality of the gameplay cloud systems can offer - regardless of whether you intend to use xCloud, GeForce Now, or even simply stream games directly from a console or PC in your home.
The point is, cloud gaming is still underdeveloped. It's an interesting concept that will likely become very impactful in the future, but as of right now, it isn't the ultimate solution to gaming-on-the-go like major tech companies would like you to believe it is. At the end of the day, all the might of Google couldn't save Stadia, and that's probably a good example of where cloud gaming as a whole currently stands.
And this is why it's difficult to make a firm judgement on the G Cloud, because the core principle of this system is to take advantage of cloud gaming, however this isn't a particularly great service as of the current time. Fast-paced games, shooters, multiplayer titles, and more, are all very difficult to play using cloud systems, but this hasn't changed the fact that Logitech has designed a system here that is generally speaking, rather good.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor with eight cores that clock up to 2.3 GHz, all alongside featuring 64GB of ROM to ensure that the 16:9 Full HD IPS LCD panel works at the 60Hz refresh rate that it promises, as far as handheld gaming systems go, there is a lot to appreciate here. While the display is only 7-inches in size, it reaches a brightness of 450 nits, meaning it's very easy to see what's happening on-screen regardless of light levels. Add to this touch screen controls that allow it to take full control of the tablet OS that it features, and you get a system that rivals, and quite frankly should even outperform, a Nintendo Switch.
But as you're playing games via the cloud, a lot of this technology doesn't equate to much, because the G Cloud isn't doing the processing itself. So, in effect, this hardware is used to ensure that the system remains silky smooth and fast, allowing you to seamlessly switch between xCloud and GeForce Now without needing a moment between shutting down open apps. You can't have multiple streaming apps open at once mind you, but whenever you do want to make a swap, you can do so without feeling hindered with loading times.
When it comes to actually playing games with the G Cloud, there's a lot to appreciate here as well. I found that racing games work really well over the cloud, and spent a lot of time in Forza Horizon 5's Rally Adventure and in Dirt 5. Thanks to the asymmetrical analog sticks, the well-placed A, B, X, and Y buttons on the right side of the system, and the D-pad on the left (which all replicates Xbox's beloved controller formula), this platforms suits Xbox titles incredibly well, hence Forza Horizon being a clear-cut winner for putting the platform through the ringer. Aside from this layout, it also has a bumper and trigger on top of its left and right sides, and my only complaint here would be that the triggers are too small and could have been placed a little further back to make them better suit the ergonomics of your hands.
As for the audio offering, the G Cloud brings stereo speakers, which are never really drowned out as this device doesn't make any noticeable noise. The benefit of using cloud services to render games is that it takes the stress away from your actual device, which means it never really runs hot and therefore doesn't need advanced cooling solutions and noisy fans to stop it from overheating and crashing. I'd go as far as saying that I never heard a peep out of the G Cloud during my time testing it. But if you do want to use headphones, there is a 3.5mm jack as well as Bluetooth 5.1 support, meaning you can use wired or wireless systems with this device.
And for those looking for an immersive gameplay experience, the G Cloud does feature linear haptics that add rumble and vibration effects to the games that you end up playing, which is always a pleasant way to become more connected to the experience in the palms of your hands.
While the G Cloud does use Android 11 OS, Logitech has provided an alternative look that suits gamers specifically. When booting up the device for the first time, you get the option of choosing between the regular Android OS platform, or a gamer-centric one that more closely resembles the Switch's dashboard than anything else. This means your cloud gaming services and gaming apps are never more than a few clicks away, but at the same time, if you're interested in checking your emails or jumping on YouTube, there are clear and easy ways to access Google's family of services as well. Talking about Google, you can sync your Google information to this device, meaning you can find all your passwords, documents, and so forth without having to take any extra steps, which is no doubt a very interesting prospect for those already heavily ingrained in the Android/Google ecosystem.
The most impressive part of the G Cloud however, is without a doubt its battery. This gadget comes with a 23.1 Whr battery made from a rechargeable Li-Polymer, and essentially, this isn't very different to what we find in other handheld devices, but as the G Cloud doesn't need to use its energy to render and process games, the battery does not melt away. Logitech claims that it can last for over 12 hours of solid gameplay, and from my experience, this is entirely correct, and if anything, may be underselling the battery performance. The G Cloud is not a device that you'll constantly need to be charging up, but whenever it does need a top up, it usually only takes a couple of hours and you're ready to go again. When compared to the OLED Switch, which haemorrhages its battery in a few hours, this is a different level of impressive.
This is all why the Logitech G Cloud is such a difficult device to actually make a judgement on. When looking solely at the technology and the gadget itself, there's a lot to love about the G Cloud and its take on handheld gaming. But, this is also a system that relies heavily, entirely even, on a technology that isn't there yet. As I have said before, I have no doubt that cloud gaming will eventually be great, but it's years away from being in the place that would make it desirable to the majority of consumers, and because of this, it's truly difficult to recommended spending £330 (which is more expensive than Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 64GB OLED Switch model) on this system today. You could make the argument that Microsoft was ahead of its time with its plans with Xbox One and the Kinect and its entertainment focus, but Logitech is without a doubt a few years too early to the inevitable cloud gaming party with the G Cloud.