Valve and Xi3 are showing off a modular computer studied to sit in your living room and allowing you to experience all your Steam games on your TV screen using all the potential of the Big Picture mode.
The hardware was developed by Xi3 but financially backed by Valve. It’s not ready for launch yet, and Xi3 is calling the hardware shown at CES 2013 a “development stage” product.
The codename of the project is “Piston” and Xi3 is directing the attention to the home use of the system as well as LAN parties.
“This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand”, Xi3 CEO Jason A. Sullivan said.
The “Steam Box” modular computer “Piston” will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC’s CPU and RAM. The current demo unit features an IO board boasting one ethernet port, 1/8″ audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports with one dedicated to keyboard input, four eSATAp ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port.
The price will be about $1,000 but it’s only a speculation made on the announcement that the system will be similar to the Xi3’s own X7A line in both specifications and likely price.
I don’t know if such hardware can change PC gaming, with a price like that I can simply build a powerful gaming rig AND a day-by-day usable PC at the same time. On the other hand a bit of healthy competition between companies and a wider choice can be good for consumers. Either way I am glad that maybe some day in the future I will be faced with the choice between a “classic PC” and a new modular computer.