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Steam Machines: Valve Announce Hardware

Following the SteamOS announcement on Monday, time has been ticking away, as it has a tendency to do, and we now find ourselves on the farside of Valve’s second announcement. It’s a Steam-powered Box! A group of them, to be more precise. And, boy, am I glad it is, because I wrote this pre-jump section of the post an hour ago, having spent the day polishing my crystal ball. If, like Brad Pitt, you want to know what’s in the frickin’ box, join me below for a brief tour.

Everytime I write SteamOS, I imagine a terrible breakfast cereal.

Anyway, on with the show.

So, what is in the box? We don’t actually know yet because there will be several to choose from.

Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS.

Three hundred lucky people will get to fight in the shade test out prototype versions of the Steam Machine and can do so by following the instructions at Valve’s new page.

While these products are still in development, we need your help. As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open.

To be in with a chance, you’ll need to follow the instructions before October 25th.

Exciting? I reckon it is. But is it a PC? What’s inside?

We’ll tell you more about it soon. Remember, there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.

Thanks! I guess it’s locked down to SteamOS though and you’ll arrest me if I fiddle with it in any way? Oh. There’s a FAQ question for that.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?

Sure.

Prototypes will ship this year and the Machines themselves, with a range of specs and from a range of manufacturers, will be released from 2014 onwards. One of those, from what I can gather, will be based on the prototype and built by Valve themselves.

We’re conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we’re testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.

Interesting times. Friday’s announcement, the final of the batch, may well be to do with input devices rather than bundled games.

…Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though – we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.

Virtual reality? Or maybe motion control is back!

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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