A month ago before Christmas, Valve’s Gabe Newell confirmed that they were working on a small PC-based machine suited for the living room that would run Steam’s Big Picture interface and allow games to be played using console controllers. This machine, dubbed the Steam Box, will reportedly run on a custom version of Linux which makes it much easier for it to provide a more console-like experience (versus running it on top of Windows on a normal PC).
Today, Xi3 Corporation, a hardware manufacturer, announced that they have teamed up with Valve to launch a ‘new product’ during CES 2013, that’s based off their current tiny Xi3 Modular Chassis. The Xi3 Modular Chassis, pictured above (it’s slightly larger than a tennis ball and can be held in one hand!), is ridiculously tiny for a case that can fit a whole computer system inside. It plays host to a quad core processor, a wide array of ports that rivals basic desktops and consumes up to 40 watts as a whole system (for the record, most small laptops come with 45w chargers, and in comparison the Xi3 case sips less power). And one doesn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that they will be delivering, with 99.9% certainty, a prototype or concept of sorts for Valve’s Steam Box gaming console at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Although they don’t dive into specifics, Xi3 and Valve are boasting that this ‘new product’ will be able to play games through Steam on high-definition displays and that this product is in its developmental stage. There’s no word on what Valve’s new console will be finally called (Maybe the Steam Box 9000, like how Harry Potter has a Nimbus 2000 broom); and there aren’t any further details either. CES 2013 just begun today and is a week long affair in Las Vegas, so we’re expecting to see the announcement of Valve’s new console any time now.
However it turns out, we hope that Valve delivers something that will be competitive with next generation consoles like the upcoming Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4, as a shake-up in the market will be exciting to see and is likely to benefit consumers with more choice. We’re also hoping Valve’s console will look a lot better and refined than the Xi3 Modular Chassis it is based off.
Update: Valve and Xi3 have announced Piston, a small machine that’s capable of games at high resolution. The Piston is still in development stage and one of the many Steam Box prototypes. Valve appears to be still open to different hardware options and will be meeting with other hardware makers at CES 2013 who will showcase other hardware concepts.