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Eyeing the... Valve Steam Deck!



Sooo... this happened! What is it exactly, a Nintendo Switch Pro? Not at all, but shots have been fired because... Steam Deck may have the device that PC and non-PC gamers have been waiting for, which is the Steam Deck!

I feel like Ludacris right now: Hey Steam Deck... how ya doing? You're the device that I'm really pursuing, and I would like to get to know ya, can ya give me your specs, and hopefully I can pre-order ya... by my next paycheck... ayyy! Anyway, follow me as I eye this beautiful-looking device down.

I wish this device launched with a new Valve title, but... I have enough games to suffice.

As you see here, it has 2 thumbsticks + a D-pad + a View button (the button next to the D-pad) + the ABXY buttons + a Menu button + Quick access (just above the right speaker) + the Steam button (above the left speaker). You also get two trackpads... which someone might be wonder what those do, but there are games on Steam that require a standard keyboard and mouse in some cases... so you have the trackpads. I'd be tempted to see how these work, but I don't know... probably something I would seldom use.



On top of the Steam Deck you have the standard L1 trigger + L2 trigger + R1 trigger + R2 trigger + Volume buttons (closer to the L triggers) + Headphone Jack (next to the volume buttons) + Fan (in the middle to keep the... Steam flowing out properly) + Type C port jack (I'd have to grab a nice Thunderbolt cord) + a Status LED light + Power Button... seems to be set up nicely.


On the back, some of you might be wondering what in the heck are... these, but the device delivers L4 + L5 + R4 + R5 back triggers for pro gamers or at least those who prefer to use pro controllers. There is also an expansion slot for micro SD cards.

Here are the specs of the unit:

Processor: 
AMD APU
CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
APU power: 4-15W

RAM:
16 GB LPDDR5 onboard RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)

Storage:
64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1)
256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)
512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)

All models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement)
All models include a high-speed microSD card slot

Display:
Resolution: 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio)
Type: Optically bonded IPS LCD for enhanced readability
Display size: 7" diagonal
Brightness: 400 nits typical
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Touch-enabled: Yes
Sensors: Ambient light sensor

Connectivity:
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 (support for controllers, accessories and audio)
Wi-Fi: Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Audio:
Channels: Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience
Microphones: Dual microphone array
Headphone / mic jack: 3.5mm stereo headphone / headphone jack
Digital: Multichannel audio via DisplayPort over USB-C, standard USB-C, or Bluetooth 5.0

Power:
Input: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply
Battery: 40Whr battery 2 - 8 hours of gameplay

Expansion:
microSD: UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC
External connectivity for controllers & displays: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2

Size/Weight:
Size: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm
Weight: Approx. 669 grams

Software:
Operating System: SteamOS 3.0 (Arch-based)
Desktop: KDE Plasma


I won't say that this is the Nintendo Switch killer because Nintendo has its IPs, but... the Steam Deck has entered the arena where people are looking for some handheld action. Nintendo has occupied this space comfortably for a while with no real competitors (the PS Vita is gone), but now you have a real head-turner for people who have pre-existing libraries that they want to enjoy on a Nintendo Switch-like device. It's actually a handheld PC, that you can dock and use with a Keyboard, Mouse, and... Monitor also.

Basically, if you need a computer to do some simple things on (even using productivity or art software in Steam) you can run them in this. Actually, I won't say simple things, because if you can play a high-res game... you can run software that meets the requirements.


Nintendo was on the Wishmas List at one point, but this has to go on there, because... you get access to your Steam library in portable form. Yes, that option has been there with the Steam Link, which is why that was also recommended, but... this is just so much more. I would much rather access my ridiculous Steam library, but I say that this isn't a Nintendo Switch killer because the big N also has a large player base. So it has that side as far as a portable home game console is concerned with original IPs and the Steam Deck has the... PC audience (and others who may be interested). Will the Steam Deck dip into Nintendo Switch sales? I'm sure of it, but I'm not calling anything as far as who wins between Valve & Nintendo, because we're the actual winners when the competition is fierce.

I do think the place where Steam has the upper hand is... you don't have to wait for the games to be ported. You can play them on day 1 they're available on Steam, but you can also mod this thing... so that changes things even further. Based on an interview with Valve, I believe you can use the Xbox app on this device, and it's safe to say you can use EA & Ubisoft's platforms too. Why is it safe to say that? Easy, remember EA & Ubisoft have this nasty little habit of selling games on one platform that requires their first-party platform to be used.

I'm tired of that, and Valve + Epic Games... must change that. They must require these companies to play the games directly from their platforms rather than leading us to their app. What's the point of buying the game in one only to open it on another? It's not being stolen, let us play directly from the app we purchased it on... period. So that's why I'm sure these two platforms will run, but I had to vent.


You've seen the specs, you've seen the system, now time for the price. The Steam Deck comes in at a solid price of $399. I don't know what it feels like, but I know that I want it because it gives me access to my Steam library to play whenever I want and wherever I want. You just power it on, sign in, and... bam (as long as your game is ready to roll and doesn't require an update)!

You actually have 3 tiers in terms of the device:

$399 
64GB eMMC internal storage
Carrying case

$529
256GB NVMe SSD internal storage
Faster storage
Carrying case
Exclusive Steam Community profile bundle

$649
512GB NVMe SSD internal storage
Fastest storage
Premium anti-glare etched glass
Exclusive carrying case
Exclusive Steam Community profile bundle
Exclusive virtual keyboard theme

Now that you've seen the prices, you see why this thing is turning head... even if the higher models are a few hundred more. It would be DOA starting at $999 because you can buy a PC and call it a day or just get a Switch, but this is a price that makes some of us think twice. By the way, don't be a sucker buying from some scalper trying to cash in on your thirst for a Steam Deck, there are people reserving units that they're selling online for thousands of dollars (I've seen one for over $4000). That's nuts!

Overall, the Steam Deck grabbed my attention, and... I truly see it as a device where I would log a good amount of time on because I more so play games on Steam. If this thing takes off, I strongly suggest that Valve creates more first-party games... or funds teams to do so. I also think it's sweet that I don't have to go and dump money into building a new game library.

For more information on the Valve Steam Deck, check out: https://www.steamdeck.com/en/



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