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CES 2014 Hands On: Steam Machine

CES 2014 Hands On: Steam Machine

The Steam Machine is one of the hot items at this year’s CES and I was lucky enough to get all handsie with one of the units and controllers. What did I think?

The Steam Machine had to be one of the top things I wanted to check out at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, NV and it just happened to be the first thing to kick off my experience. To those who don’t know what they are you can check out more info here so I don’t have to get into the details of the device(s). For those of you who do have a clue, then read on and see what my I think.

First off, let me talk about the controller. After seeing the video showcasing how the controller for the various Steam Machines worked, I was a bit on the dissatisfied side. It is supposed to be like taking your PC and turning it into a console, but the removal of the thumb sticks makes it feel a bit more like using my phone to control the game. I was playing with both Metro: Last Light and Portal 2 with the controller and it just didn’t feel like it was as responsive as a keyboard and mouse, or the traditional console controller. I understand the want to be a bit on the innovative side of things but I was not too satisfied with how that was set up.

What did strike my fancy though were all the extra buttons that were mapped extremely well for the games. Including two under the controller buttons for crouching, at least in these titles, which had me using my pinky or ring fingers for once with a controller. When I was actually able to move and aim about the rest of the buttons complimented the controller set up but I don’t think having traditional sticks like the Xbox and PlayStation would have harmed that. Then again, who knows? I can see this being a strong platform for PC gaming for myself if and when 3rd parties design their own controllers.

It should be no big shock to know that I am not a huge PC gamer. That all really boils down to hardware issues on my end, but I digress. What I was able to witness and control during my playtime on the Steam Machine was so very smooth and with such little lag or visual degeneration that I could swear I was playing on a multi-thousand dollar gaming rig when I was using one of their more modest configurations. In fact the system I was on had an estimated cost equivalent to the Xbox One. Getting that much power in such a small rig that just plays games is not too out of the question for myself.

All in all though this is just a fancy and dedicated way to run Steam where you would normally run all of your console games. It is nice to be able to play all of your Steam titles, at least the 250 or so of them ready as of now, while keeping your gaming rig out of the living room but the question begs, why not just have your already powerful system hooked to your big screen anyways? Time will tell, but for the prices already detailed and the weirdness, or new-ness if you want, of the controller, I am still not sure it is really worth it. Unless you don’t want the family to see the porn on your rig or something like that.

All in all I am still not sold but time will tell. Maybe if the price point on some of the models lowers or something to be fully comparable to the consoles but those are still few and far between. Either way, keep an eye out as I will get all of the specs and images up for you to drool over and try to figure out a way to scrounge up the cash to have a second gaming PC in your home.