I’m not one for trade shows. They often strike me as industry circle jerks but they do serve a purpose. So today CES we got some interesting news for PC gamers concerning Valves much discussed dedicated hardware. If you want the official chapter and verse then please read the official press release here. If you are old and cynical like myself, then here’s my TL-DR version:
Blah, blah, CES. Blah, blah press release. Key demographics express disproportionate joy (and wet themselves just a little). Suits and money men high five and shout “Kerching”.
Yes Valve have finally confirmed that they are in business partnership with Xi3 Corporation and unveiled a prototype under the drole codename of “Piston”. This bespoke PC system appears to be designed to take on the next generation of games consoles head on. It’s lean, mean and dead sexy, plus Steam has recently developed a nice shiny TV friendly interface called “Big Picture”. However, we are still not 100% sure if this is the so called “Steam Box”.
Now if you head over to the Xi3 website and check out their product range you’ll see that they specialise in small form factor hardware and that their specifications are not to be sneezed at. However, it should be noted the specifics of the hardware contained in the nice shiny box that both Valve and Xi3 were displaying at CES, was conspicuously absent (Update: Details of “Piston” hardware here). Some of Xi3 current products are based around dual core Intel chips and utilise solid state drives but I think it may be prudent not to assume too much at this point.
It’s very easy to get over excited by this development, especially as a PC gamer. Most of the regular tasks I do on a PC, I could easily do on a laptop. The only reason I have a bulky tower unit is because of gaming. So potentially a dedicated gaming system of this size would be a boon. Yet is is important to bear in mind what the price “Piston” will be and the specifications of what’s inside. If I can play everything that I currently own on Steam on this device, at broadly the same quality and performance that I currently enjoy, then that will be fine. If not then I’ll leave it to others to be early adopters.
Fifteen years in the IT industry has taught me not to be the first in the line with my cash at the ready. So at present I am cautiously optimistic about “Piston” and nothing more.