Posted on 16/07/2021 15:35:00
Alternative title: Steam Deck, a Linux PC console.
Valve recently announced Steam Deck and I must say that I like it. The people that made this hardware are clearly as passionate computer nerds as we are here. The controls do look a bit uncomfortable to my taste, but I’ll judge it when I see it. The operating system used for Valve’s handheld is Free Software built on Arch Linux. This may be one of the first (?) appearances of Arch Linux on a consumer product in actual production en masses. Not only are their software choices solid, they also allow you to decide that by not locking you out of your system and granting you access to desktop & install other OSes. You are also not limited to just Steam, you can easily install emulators on it and insert an SD card with your favourite ROMs. When docked, it will be a staple of your living room, a powerhouse capable of emulating likely up to PS3 even. Speaking of docks - while it is sold separately, I like what I see. You can turn your Steam Deck into a full on desktop experience with external monitor, Ethernet connectivity and fully working USB ports.
How does this compare to Nintendo’s Switch handheld console? To start off, Switch uses closed source software and actively stops you from escaping its walled garden, often ending up banning your online profile on signs of device modification. The device is as powerful as a ~$200 Android phone these days, yet they get away with selling a new display as of recent for a premium. Steam Deck is some fresh air into the handheld market as it allows complete freedom over your device while not forcing you into an ecosystem of walled gardens. The hardware is also much more powerful than what a Switch has. Steam Deck is a consumer-friendly and an open option for anyone that cares about their device being open without getting banned from ever accessing console’s online services. I will personally be buying a Steam Deck and be writing a review piece when it arrives.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: If you’re already in the Steam ecosystem, you get to keep all your games, cloud saves & even mod your games. You do not have to buy a second copy of the game if you already own it on PC or Deck. You can also take advantage on this with any other storefront. Maybe this will also be enough to push GOG to make a Linux client for their GOG Galaxy? You can also take advantage of the famous Steam sales, something unheard of for consoles. This is an ultimate win for the gamer who wants a handheld gaming device, but doesn’t want to pay the insane prices on other consoles, looking at you, Nintendo.
Thanks for reading,
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