The Steam Deck isn’t going to be another Steam Machine. Well, OK it literally is. As a full gaming PC that runs purely on SteamOS, and aims to wrestle gamers away from Windows, it feels like a new generation of that failed idea. But where the Steam Machines were ultimately evidence of Valve’s initial naivety around PC hardware, the Steam Deck is something far more assured, far more believable, and far more timely.
The most basic, and obvious comparison when you first clap eyes on the Deck is the Nintendo Switch. After all, it’s another handheld gaming machine with an attractive price point. While the Steam Deck is most certainly that, it’s also something else entirely.
This is handheld PC gaming with the same benefits and pain points we all recognize as long-term PC gamers, like compatibility, bugs, and endless graphics settings. Yes, it absolutely looks like a simple handheld console, but think of it like a tiny touchscreen laptop, but with gamepad wings instead of a keyboard beard.
PCs with a Switch-like form factor aren’t a new thing, however. There are several products that have done the rounds on platforms such as Kickstarter, and are now shifting into full retail. Alienware too has had a look at handheld gaming PCs with its UFO concept. But they all had three things in common—Windows sucking on a small touchscreen, weak hardware, and sky-high pricing.
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