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Valve have announced the very Switch-like Steam Deck

The portable PC dream is real, folks!

Rumours about Valve making a portable PC called the SteamPal were flying about the internet just a couple of months ago, but this evening the dream of a fully portable PC has finally come true. Meet the Steam Deck, which will be shipping this December with prices starting at £349 / $399.

Powered by a new version of the Steam operating system, Valve promises that playing games on the Deck will be as easy as hitting the power button and signing into your Steam account. There's a full suite of controls, including dual analog sticks, face buttons, a D-Pad, and two thumb pads to simulate a mouse cursor. It even has gyro controls and a quick resume feature that will let suspend your game when you hit the power button, and wake exactly where you left off when you press it again. Just like the Switch!

There will be three storage models available. The entry-level Deck starting at £349 / $399 will come with 64GB of eMMC storage, but there will also be a middle £459 / $529 version with a 256GB NVMe SSD inside it, and a top-tier £569 / $649 model with a 512GB NVMe SSD. All the other underlying hardware is the same, though, and there won't be any difference in frame rates or graphics quality between the three models. You'll also be able to add your own microSD cards to all three models to expand its storage even further, although Valve haven't yet stated if there's a maximum size capacity it supports.

The Steam Deck may be using a different version of Steam compared to your desktop, but the experience should feel very familiar. The Steam Deck supports Steam Chat, which you'll be able to activate at the touch of a button, as well as Remote Play, allowing you to stream games from your home PC directly to the Deck. You'll also be able to use the Steam store to buy new games from the Deck, and cloud saves are supported, too - allowing you to pick up where you left off from your desktop.

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I'm trying really hard to rely all the facts here, but gosh darn it, this is the actual dream, folks, and I cannot tell you how exciting this all is. It's the literal Steam Switch I've been waiting for!

If it's nitty gritty hardware specs you're after, feast your eyes on these. Powered by an AMD APU, which means it will be running on the processor's internal graphics, the Steam Deck may not have the flashiest visuals you've ever seen, but given AMD's excellent track record on this front, I'm pretty confident it should be more than capable of running at a decent clip on the Deck's 1280x800 resolution display. The fact it's based on AMD's older Zen 2 architecture is perhaps a smidge disappointing, as this means it's likely one of their Ryzen 3000 G-series chips rather than their super duper Ryzen 5000 jobs, but hey, I'm not complaining.

The touch-enabled LCD display will measure 7in across the diagonal (making it a fraction bigger than the default Switch's 6.2in screen), and will be capped at a 60Hz refresh rate. All very sensible given its size. It will, however, peak at a max brightness of 400cd/m2, which is surprisingly high. Indeed, given Valve's battery life rating of between 2-8 hours, I'd imagine you're definitely looking at the narrow end of that battery life range on max brightness, although we won't know for sure how it holds up at lower brightness levels until we're able to get one in our grubby, hungry mitts.

It's a pretty large boy at 298x117x49mm (the Switch is just 239x102x28mm by comparison), and its weight of approximately 669 grams makes it much heavier than its 398g Nintendo rival, too. Still, IGN (who have the exclusive first look at the Steam Deck) seem pretty happy with it, so go and check out their hands on impressions if you want to know more.

Valve are also making a special dock for the Deck (which I'm now dubbing the DeckDock) so you can connect it up to a gaming monitor and use just like a normal PC. You'll also be able to browse the web, install other PC software and all the usual productivity stuff, according to Valve. Heck, Valve even mention being able to install other game stores on it, too, those rascals. Alas, you'll have to buy it separately, as it's not going to be included as part of a bundle.

For now, though, consider me extremely excited. As a reminder, the Steam Deck will begin shipping to the US, Canada, the EU and UK in December 2021, with more regions to follow in 2022, and if you want to make sure you're first in line, then make sure you visit its Steam page on Friday July 16th at 10am PT / 6pm BST when reservations open.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to fantasise about which of the hot new PC games coming out this month would make a great first Steam Deck experience...

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