Valve is now on their way to finally releasing the Steam controller and the Steam Link, two pieces of hardware that make it worthwhile being a Steam user, if not for all the sweet sales that they have every now and then. Valve says that they are on track for a 10 November 2015 launch, just in time to catch buyers for the Christmas season. In addition, some Steam Machines should be available from Valve’s partners during that time as well, with the company’s custom SteamOS Linux distro exiting the beta phase and moving on to a stable build.
Firstly, the Steam controller is $50, so it is no more expensive than the Xbox One controller, at least in the US. It has two touch-sensitive pads for accurate cursor control, along with the standard face buttons like the D-pad. There is haptic feedback and the triggers are dual-stage, so you can half-depress a trigger to aim down the sights and fully depress it to fire a shot.
It also has rechargeable internal batteries, communicates over Bluetooth, is compatible with Xinput controls on Windows machines and has an extra pair of triggers underneath the controller, by the hand grips. The Steam controller will be available separately in hardware stores that partner with Valve.
Steam Link is a In-Home streaming device compatible with Steam’s in-home streaming service. Essentially, you plug it in the wall socket power adapter, hook up a TV through HDMI and then link up a Steam controller through Bluetooth. The Link uses an ARM-based processor with an undisclosed amount of memory and storage, and will try to act as a hub for all your games. In addition to Fast Ethernet (100Mib/s), it also has 802.11ac wireless capability and is built to decode 1080p streams efficiently and smoothly.
As for what else the Link can do, its anyone’s guess at this point. It could be running on a slimmed-down variant of SteamOS, or it could be Android-based, which would certainly be lovely, as that would enable access to services like Hulu, Netflix and many other streaming services. It also has three USB 3.0 ports, which can be used to hook up external drives or a mouse and keyboard. The Link will sell for $50 and will come in a bundle with the controller for $99.
SteamOS will also be making its debut on the same day, with a select number of OEM partners and boutique PC builders standing at the ready with several Steam Machines of their own. It is possible to run Windows instead and use Big Picture mode to get the same functionality, but that also comes with all of the oddities that make Windows unsuitable as a gaming platform for the living room (like, lack of controller support for Modern apps).
A wide variety of hardware will be available to choose from and there will be options for cheap machines as well as supremely expensive ones. I ran through a couple of Linux builds recently in my System builder’s guide, and all of them should be able to run SteamOS without a hitch if you choose to do so. Our own Evetech will be experimenting with SteamOS and are currently evaluating it, so we may get some pre-built options from them as well.
The future of PC gaming is bright thanks to Valve and I’m excited at the prospect of seeing more and more people switch to gaming on Linux. If you’re curios about doing just that, read through this first, and then log into Steamdb to see which games in your library are Linux-compatible already.
Source: Steam Universe