Update 11/01/24 10:18 AM UTC - AYANEO replied to my email to give a tiny bit more info on their Linux OS use:
The SteamOS pre-installed on NEXT LITE is adapted and optimized by AYANEO based on HoloISO. Users also can install Windows system by themselves after purchasing NEXT LITE, and download Windows driver from AYANEO official website.
HoloISO is not actually SteamOS, but very close. So this is not in any way a partnership being done with Valve. HoloISO for those not aware can be found on GitHub and anyone can use it. I've asked if they can share what changes they've made.
Original article below:
Finally we're seeing another handheld vendor jump in with Linux. The AYANEO NEXT LITE was announced today and much like the Steam Deck, they plan to ship it with SteamOS! AYANEO are one of the top brands when it comes to PC handhelds, so it's really interesting to see them be one of the first to jump in like this. If Linux is a success for them, no doubt they will do more and other vendors will follow along.
Don't go expecting some next-gen power-house though, this is a "value-for-money option" but with various great sounding features like Hall Effect Joysticks, a 7-inch 800p display, a 47Wh battery, X-axis linear motors "and other features".
Now, this forward-looking flagship handheld, AYANEO NEXT, returns in full force with the rejuvenated AYANEO NEXT LITE. Building upon the foundation of top-tier flagship design and texture, AYANEO NEXT LITE comes pre-installed with the SteamOS gaming system for the first time. AYANEO NEXT LITE integrates outstanding cost-effectiveness, lowering the entry barrier while further popularizing numerous flagship features, offering an upgraded experience to more players, and allowing them to enjoy the endless fun and convenience of gaming handhelds.AYANEO
AYANEO say "subscriptions" will open 9:30 PM EST on January 11th EST / 2:30 AM January 12th UTC. They haven't revealed specifications or the pricing yet, so we assume that will be revealed then. The announcement post also showed off two different colour variations with a white shell and orange shoulder buttons like above, plus a black shell with grey shoulder buttons.
Currently it's not clear how they're using SteamOS. As Valve have not announced any kind of partnership, and there's no official public SteamOS 3 release yet. We know Valve wanted to get SteamOS on other devices, and all those discussions would have of course been behind closed doors until an announcement. So maybe Valve will say something soon. I've reached out to both Valve and AYANEO for an answer anyway.
Interestingly, they were previously working on their Linux-based AYANEO OS that was due in 2023, but perhaps that was shelved in favour of SteamOS directly to prevent fragmentation.
What do we think, AMD still like most others or Intel this time like the MSI Claw?
See the announcement here.