This week Steam revealed what might have been a fan concept, a handheld PC that can run all of our favourite Steam games. They introduced the Steam Deck, scheduled for arrival this December. The device will run on a SteamOS that has been designed specifically for the Deck, although the option is there to get rid of SteamOS and download Windows instead.
The specs can be found on Steam’s Deck page:
As mentioned in an IGN round up of the device, this is more of a gaming PC than it is a console. It can be docked and plugged into a monitor and used like any other PC. Even when being used as a handheld, the Deck has a trackpad on each side of the screen, making it much easier to play PC games that are not made for a traditional console controller.
For the price point, it packs a hell of a punch, even if choosing the extremely low price for its capabilities was painful for its developer. Starting at £349 for the lowest storage option (64GB), it can run modern games like Control and Doom Eternal smoothly at 720p, which is more than enough on its 7-inch screen.
Due to its design and its capability as a handheld the Deck will naturally draw comparisons with the Nintendo Switch, yet it is a different beast entirely. While the Switch has the advantage of all the wonderful exclusives that Nintendo has to offer, the Deck will allow a player to play an entire Steam library on the go, whilst also acting like a traditional computer when docked. Unlike the Switch, the Deck will come with different storage options, the lowest with 64gb at £350/$399, the next option with 256gb for £450/$529, or the biggest option with 512gb for £569/$649.
Once the Deck releases for sale, it will no doubt be in short supply for a while before it is readily available, the vastly positive reception that it has received upon its announcement suggests that reservations will be sold out as quickly as they become available. It is easy to see why, the capabilities of the Deck does not reflect the price point, a regular gaming desktop with the ability top run modern games smoothly would cost a fair penny more than the £349/$399 that Steam is charging for their new product. Although even docked the resolution will be capped at 720p, the power that it contains (comparable to a PS4 or Xbox One) gives it enough to be a suitable alternative to a regular gaming desktop. The price point is the most enticing aspect of this trade off, for the lower resolution of 720p (which as previously mentioned is only a downside when docked), you get access to the entire Steam catalogue, along with all of the mods that have become affiliated with PC gaming. If it fulfils the early promise it is showing, the Steam Deck will quickly become a popular product with gamers.
Battery life is the main concern for this upcoming device, with Steam saying that the Deck will have a handheld battery life of 2-8 hours depending on the game(S) being played. As powerful as the Deck may be, it won’t be as much fun playing games like Control for only a couple of hours before the Deck dies. However, the Nintendo Switch suffers from a similar issue, lasting up to 9 hours, but it has not held the console back from unprecedented success.
In terms of what this means for the gaming industry on a whole, it is uncertain what this means for the Nintendo Switch as the only other dedicated handheld option currently on the market. Although similar in that regard, they will be occupying different spaces, with the Switch having the wealth of Nintendo exclusives to offer, while the Deck will act as the creators have called it, a handheld gaming PC. Although a low end one, this device will easily go toe-to-toe with a gaming PC, running AAA games a lot better than a PC would at the same price point as this device, making Steam’s first endeavour into the handheld market a promising one.
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