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First handheld Steam Machine revealed

Jun 16, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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A “Steamboy” handheld gaming console teased in a video appears to be the first portable Steam Machine to emerge for Valve’s Linux-based Steam OS platform.

A Steamboy Project site registered under a Steamboy Machine copyright posted a teaser video of what looks to be the first handheld console form-factor Steam Machine (see farther below). The video shows a handheld device with a screen in the middle that resembles a cross between the now-delayed Valve Steam Controller and a Sony PlayStation Vita device.



Steamboy prototype (render)
(click image to enlarge)

Escapist Magazine dug up some more information from the developers. The device will ship with a quad-core processor, which based on other announced Steam Machines, is likely an Intel Core or AMD system-on-chip. The Steamboy is also said to offer 4GB of RAM, a pre-integrated 32GB memory card, and a 5-inch, 16:9 touchscreen.

The Steamboy will ship in 2015 and support WiFi or 3G connectivity, says the story. A Steamboy Machine rep told the publication that the device would not be as powerful as desktop Steam Machines, but added that “it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam.”



Two more Steamboy renders
(click images to enlarge)

Valve announced the open source Linux-based SteamOS and Steam Machine gaming platform last September. The company orchestrated a group announcement of 14 Steam Machines at this January’s CES. Most of the Steam Machines were expected to ship this year, but last month, Valve announced that its own Steam Machine would be delayed until 2015 due to major revisions it was implementing on its Steam Controller device.


Valve Controller sketch posted with last month’s delay notice
(click image to enlarge)

Since almost all the other Steam Machine vendors were planning to use Valve’s controller, it seems likely they too will be bumped to 2015. The Steamboy, of course, comprises both the computer and the controller, so it may not be far behind its more PC-like Steam Machine competitors.
 
Alienware Alpha

Due to the controller delay, Dell’s Alienware — the biggest name among Valve’s list of hardware partners — will instead ship with an Xbox 360 controller and at least initially run Windows 8.1. Alienware revealed the $549 Alpha system last week at the E3 gaming show, and said it would ship in time for the holidays. Customers will be able to download SteamOS to the Alpha, and also be able to attach the Steam Controller once it ships in 2015.

The Intel Core i3-based Alpha is further equipped with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and WiFi. Like almost all the Steam Machines announced in January, it incorporates a customized Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card.



Alienware Alpha
(click image to enlarge)

Even in its Windows incarnation, the Alpha is capable of running Valve’s Steam Big Picture mode. This Valve technology enables a computer to act as a server to mirror games from Valve’s Steam distribution service to multiple screens in the house simultaneously, including TVs.

Back in January, Alienware said its system would measure only 8 x 8 x 3 inches — much smaller than most of the Steam Machines — and the Alpha system looks to share that same form-factor, as well as the basic design of the CES prototype. It appears that Valve has worked closely with Alienware to make this a low-cost system that has a chance of competing with proprietary game consoles.

Most of the other Steam Machines are larger, more PC-like systems aimed at high-end gamers, and those that were announced with prices mostly ran over $1,000. Several of the systems announced at CES, including Digital Storm’s Bolt II, the Origin PC Chronos, and Maingear’s Spark, were said to be dual-boot Linux/Windows systems. A few smaller, cheaper systems were announced, including the $599 Zotac Steam Machine.




Steamboy teaser video

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