Like most of RPS, I’ve spent the day picking up random rectangular things and trying to pretend they’re a Steam Deck. That’s how I ruined my partner’s jigsaw puzzle. I think... Yes, I think I want one. Steam has stealthily been positioning itself as a good portable OS right under our noses, all it needed was the correct form factor. This looks like it. They've somehow take all their spare hardware bits and made a PC out of it, which has really got me wondering just how capable it is, and what I could do with it. Here are eight things I'll probably do on mine.
Use Steam Remote Play Together to make friends
I could be boring and attach an external controller to it to enable local co-op. Or, I could host the game on the Steam Deck and share it with another player on their phone, even if they don’t own it. Steam Remote Play Together lets you do that. It has to be local multiplayer, but I could conceivably make friends with someone on the train then quietly ask them if they want to have a quick co-op session on my Deck. My treat. Would that be weird?
Connect a VR headset to it
It apparently has all the correct connections to support a Valve Index, and I haven’t puked in ages. It won’t work well, but I am considered a pioneer in these things, so I have to try.
Find cool trackpad configs
Seeing the trackpads on the Deck made me happy. I reached over and gently thanked my Steam Controller for its service. There are a number of awesome things that Steam Input, the joypad back-end, allows. For trackpads, that includes things like dividing the pad’s front into sections, so you could have a number of virtual buttons bound to each side.
It also allows you to set up a boundary on the screen, where you have a specific area that the touchpad’s activity is bound to. It’s great for things like hotbars, meaning you’ll never move a touchpad's mouse-input beyond the space it takes up. My favourite thing, however, is the custom radial menus you can create. You can bind any action to an on-screen menu that pops up when you touch the pad, then moving your thumb to select that action. You can select icons and even animated gifs to show the binding. It works for anything in-game. Have a look.
Install a random OS on it
My main desktop will always and forever run Windows. That big, old laptop on my shelf? I think it has ChromeOS on it. And before that, I wanted to see if I could use Ubuntu as a daily driver. Steam Deck is just a PC, and as such allows other operating systems to be installed on it. I’m pretty fascinated by SteamOS 3, and can’t wait to get my hands on it (it'll be on that old laptop, obviously), but I’m also certain that as soon as a working version of Android pops up for it, I’ll definitely install it. It’d be neat to see just how much of Deck’s hardware is recognised. I also bet Windows 11 will work a treat on it.
Use ray tracing for at least a single frame
Until Valve says otherwise, I’m going to assume that the Zen 2 + RDNA 2 hardware combo can technically pull off the ray-tracing that the stats claim its capable of. That’s all. I’m curious.
The stats also bode well for some emulation fun, and the form factor really would suit the cool crime of emulation, and I’m betting that a small but powerful device that can run Doom Eternal could probably run Dolphin emulator no trouble. Then it’s just the small step of personally ripping all my roms, playing Mario Kart on it and telling a small child my uncle works at Nintendo and got me a Switch 2.
Enjoy an adrenaline boost when I realise I’ve left it on a train
I did this with a camera, once. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen the train doors close and your expensive doo-dad takes an impromptu trip to Winnersh. Oh, I also might just use it as a Steam mobile games console.