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Valve has opened preorders for Steam Machines and other hardware

valve_preorders_open_for_steam_machines_link_and_controller

Valve has now launched pre-orders for a small selection of Steam Machines, these console-like gaming computers run on the Linux-based Steam OS. And while customers can preorder the Alienware Steam Machine through Steam or apparently GameStop. We also see the Steam Link, which is a slightly different unit, that let’s players stream games from a high-powered PC to other machines in the house. And of course the Steam Controller, Valve’s console gamepad. Which we are keen to check out ourselves.

Valve is expecting to release the first Steam Machines starting October 16th, according to their website. Meaning, anyone that preorder’s their unit should receive it somewhere around that time. As for retailers, it is expected they will start stocking the SteamOS powered units on November 10th, the PC gaming boxes start somewhere around $450. This is also the same date the Steam Controller and Steam Link in-house streaming device make their debut. Then other Valve hardware partners should start releasing their version of the Steam Machine. Which Valve’s ideal for creating more cohesive standard aside from Microsoft’s Windows and giving consumers an easier alternative to buying a console or building a PC.

While SteamOS is kept open, reviews and nay-sayers a still going on about the large portion of the games library not being available for the service on Steam Machines. Linux compatibility is becoming less rare for triple-A releases. This changing as we know it. And those big title developers are starting to see the demand for cross-platform support. Some are wising up to the ideal and others are holding back to see what will become of the Steam Machine itself. While things like the Steam Controller is fairly self-explanatory. This will be a make for a nice $50 wireless gamepad, using touchpads to emulate a keyboard and mouse. From what we have heard so far, reviews have mentioned this could be the next big wave of playing PC games from the couch. And from what we have seen, this actually works better than expected.

To combat the Linux available issue, gamers who own a powerful Windows gaming rig can stream games to the Steam Machine. So they have full support of their library. Which should make for some nice home-brew Steam Machines running SteamOS. As Valve is targeting full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. Which is the same technology that powers the Steam Link, which will only set you back $50 USD and could be the solution many gamers are looking for.

Preorders for the Steam Machines systems and other hardware are live now on Steam and through the retailer GameStop. Where you can also preorder the controller and the Steam Link.

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SteamOS, a Mini-ITX based Machine, and a Controller

SteamOS on a Mini-ITX based Steam Machine

Not content with building Steam, the world’s most successful games delivery platform, Valve have released the first beta of #SteamOS – a “free operating system designed for the TV and the living room”.

SteamOS is effectively their own strain of Debian #Linux bundled with #graphics drivers and a Steam client capable of downloading and playing a growing range of #games.

Valve are well positioned to create an entirely new gaming platform for big screen devices – their Steam client has been in existence for over 10 years, has 40+ million registered users and over a million users in-game at any point.

SteamOS adds playable game streaming from another Steam client and the obligatory streaming media services to the mix.

Valve do not intend to build their own hardware, instead leaving it to 3rd party manufacturers and retailers to produce their own Steam Machines (aka Steam Boxes) running SteamOS..

The hardware specification is not fixed – meaning a Steam Machine could be just powerful enough to stream games from a Windows or Mac running Steam, or be much more powerful and be the primary games machine in a household.

In December 2013, Valve built a limited run of 300 Steam Machine prototypes. iFixit have a tear down – rather sensibly Valve decided to utilise the Mini-ITX form factor.

The minimum specifications according to the official SteamOS FAQ are very achievable with current Mini-ITX hardware:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA/AMD/Intel graphics card
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

A modern Mini-ITX board and any half-decent graphics card in a mid-sized desktop chassis meets these, but we expect the industry to adapt slightly and refine for the living room experience.

Almost all early Steam Machine prototypes have been Mini-ITX based, combining a range of powerful Mini-ITX boards with a graphics card.

A new Mini-ITX based console style chassis design pattern has already started to emerge: such chassis have a low profile FlexATX or SFX PSU to power a full sized graphics card whilst maintaining the pizza box shape. The graphics card is usually connected offset to the board through a PCI-Express riser card or ribbon cable, giving a case with an average volume of around 10 litres.

These console designs carve a new niche somewhere between the smallest Mini-ITX cases (around 2.5 litres) and full size traditional PC cases (20 litres and above).

Additionally, “Mini-ITX sized” graphics cards are already beginning to hit the market, packing the functionality of full-sized cards into the 17cm depth of a Mini-ITX motherboard, potentially shrinking case designs further.

To take the place of (or next to) a traditional console in front of the TV, a Steam Machine needs one final piece of the puzzle – a standardised controller.

Valve’s Steam Controller will be available for purchase separately and is a dual high resolution trackpad device with haptic feedback so precise it can play audio waveforms through the trackpad itself. A centralised touch-screen was originally planned but has been replaced by regular buttons.

Consoles are by necessity feature-locked on release. The hardware in an Xbox One or PS4 is already technically obsolete. With a Steam Machine we can simply upgrade the hardware for a better experience. We’ll be first in line for 4K Gaming with one of these machines.

Reblogged from: mini-itx.com

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Steam Machine Looking to Change Up the Video Gaming Industry

There may be a new game console in town — at least, there may be a prototype or two in the works. Photos and specs of #iBuyPower ‘s Steam machine have leaked to the tech press, though the company is officially keeping mum. This could be the very early stages of a parade forming. Valve’s  #SteamOS , which is #open-source , is expected to inhabit a number of new Steam boxes as 2014 unfolds.

iBuyPower Steam Machine Prototype

Spin cycle meets spin attack: Amusement Washing Machine pictures

Merging functionality and fun, the Amusement Washing Machine allows you to take all your virtual skills and apply them to the real world.

Two things: 1. Doing laundry isn’t necessarily the most exciting activity in the world. 2. Don’t you wish you could apply all your online and video game bad-assery into the real world?

That’s the overall idea and inspiration for Lee Wei Chen, a master of design student at London’s Kingston University. Seeking to take advantage of his “wasted but enjoyable time” playing video games. Chen explains that he wanted to harness the skills he developed in the virtual world and apply them to the real world, making them useful.

Looking to take laundry to the next level with the ‘Amusement Washing Machine’ Chen’s design merges a washing machine with an arcade video console whereby players are required to put money into the unit which turns on the machine and dispenses three lives. If a player fails to progress to the next level and loses all their lives, the washing machine responds by not moving onto the next stage of its cycle, requiring the player to enter more money and re-attempt the level.

And while the concept for the young design student probably wont bring back the comatose arcade scene, it certainly is a neat and intriguing idea.

NOW THIS IS THE WAY I WANT TO BE DOING LAUNDRY!!!

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