On Friday, I reserved a Steam Deck. And I'm super excited about it.
On the 15th of July, Valve announced the Steam Deck. A handheld gaming "console", very much like the Nintendo Switch, but for PC games. Spec-wise, it boasts an AMD Zen 2 4c/8t CPU with an RDNA 2 GPU unit, 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a 7" 1280x800 screen. It comes in 3 variants, with the only difference being storage (64GB, 256GB and 512GB). I went with the 256GB. I've heard they all use an M.2 slot, so maybe room for an upgrade in the future.
The hardware is pretty impressive for a handheld. And Valve claims it can run "AAA" games. The release material included footage of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, apparently on high settings, sounds promising. Games will run well enough for me either way (there is that slight worry as the hardware isn't upgradable). But the ability to play through my Steam backlog. Win.
Gaming isn't my sole reason for preordering. The openness of the platform is a big win for me. Valve decided to keep the system unlocked. It's just a PC. You can do what you wish with it. It comes with a new Steam OS, based on Archlinux - my favourite Linux OS. It uses KDE for the desktop - I'm a KDE user. Fanboyism aside, this elevates Linux gaming even further. And I hope, provides some free marketing for KDE :).
The Deck will be dockable. Valve is selling one separately, but any USB-C dock works. When docked, it looks like it becomes more PC like, with full access to the desktop (I assume you can still do that handheld). And this got me thinking. I can use this while on holiday to play some games, but I can also access remote servers via SSH should I need it. While being smaller and cheaper than an equivalent "gaming laptop". Big wins for me.
The openness also leads to the possibility of running emulators. Imagine having a device run more legacy Nintendo games than the Switch? 😂
Don't get me wrong. I have my reservations. I know Valve's track record with hardware, and the hardware isn't upgradeable. It's not the best looking console (although I trust Valve with ergonomics). The Deck is also heavier than the Switch.
But boy, do I want this to be a success. I've got to wait until Q1 2022 for mine. That's OK though, I'm excited.