Handheld Consoles have been present right from the late 1970s, though it wasn’t until the introduction of the GameBoy in 1989 by Nintendo that the handheld gaming market started picking up.

From 1977 to 2015, there have been a whopping eight generations of handheld consoles, and yet we can’t seem to get enough. While the handheld market did seem to slack a little bit during the 2007-2012 time period, it quickly picked up with the introduction of the 3DS and the Vita.

Now that the upgraded and refreshed versions of both these consoles are available in the market, including a stream of new Android handheld consoles, it seems necessary to update our knowledge of what’s going on in the handheld industry.

More importantly, if you wish to pick up a console, which should be your choice? I have listed here the three best handheld consoles, but no matter which one you can get for yourself, rest assured that you will most certainly not be let down.

While Android handhelds are gaining popularity, the market is still dominated by sales of two consoles, namely the Vita and the 3DS. But which is better?

Nvidia Shield Portable

Rounding off the list is the Android running graphical powerhouse by Nvidia, the handheld Nvidia Shield Portable.

Though its newer and even more powerful iteration comes in tablet form, the Nvidia Shield Portable with its built-in five inch touchscreen 720p HD display, 2GB RAM and an incredible 72 core Nvidia GeForce GPU built into the Tegra 4 processor, does not fall slack either.

Not just that, the screen is hinged to one of the best controllers on an Android handheld, with a loud crisp speaker built in. Oh, and the console, running Android Kitkat, plays not only Android games, but also a slew of other PC games optimised for the Shield via Nvidia Tegrazone – a list that includes Portal and even Half Life.

The specs work just as brilliant in reality as they do on paper, though don’t expect the battery life or the GameStream feature to woo you as they have their own limitations.

All in all, the Nvidia Shield Portable is definitely the best Android handheld console there is, and probably will be for quite some time.

Final score: 8.0/10


New Nintendo 3DS (XL)


As I had already mentioned in my review of the New Nintendo 3DS (XL), Nintendo has made sure its latest evolution of the 3DS remains the best in the market.

With improved graphics, improved controls and added buttons to play around with, the 3DS XL promises to provide more in the future and not fall behind with time.

Yeah, the screen only has an average resolution and graphics aren’t as ramped up as in the Vita, but with a much larger catalogue of games, better battery life, better customisation, Amiibo support and an improved 3D gaming experience, the New Nintendo 3DS (XL) still retains the number one position in handheld gaming.

Final score: 8.9/10


PS Vita Slim/PCH-2003


The latest iteration of the Sony produced PS Vita looks to re-establish a foothold for Sony handhelds, something the company has been trying for a long time. While Sony did have a chance to right all the wrongs of the previous version, and it certainly did correct a lot of mistakes, a lot still seems lacking.

Sure, the new Vita has improved battery life, a new Micro USB charging cable and an improved in-built memory capacity of 1GB and is definitely more ergonomical, but the switch to a dimmer and colder LCD display seems like a big miss as the (older) Vita’s OLED screen was one of my favourite parts of the Vita. It provided complete justice to the amazing graphical capabilities of the Vita’s hardware.

Plus, even after almost three years of its release, the catalogue of games for the Vita remains uncomfortably small, though there’s no denying that if Sony continues on its quest to stay with the best in the handheld market, it could certainly do so. Especially if it is successful in tapping the Vita’s fount of hidden potential to the maximum.

Final score: 8.4/10


Razer Edge: Overpriced and overpowered, this tablet charges an enormous rate to avail PC-like specifications including 4GB of RAM, Nvidia GT 640M GPU and a third gen i5 CPU. Yes, all of that on a Windows 8 tablet. Wow, but why?

Nvidia Shield Tablet: Though less compact and more expensive than its portable version, the Shield also functions as a full fledged eight inch (1920×1200 resolution) Android tablet and is definitely worth a check for tablet gaming enthusiasts who don’t mind their gaming tablet having a mediocre battery life. Oh, and it does not come bundled with a controller. So get ready to shell out some extra cash.

PSP: Looking for a console that’s not touchscreen and yet not too old? The PSP is certainly one of the best choices you could make. Not to forget, the GameBoy Advanced is still a good choice, though don’t expect its 2D side scrolling offerings to wow you much.