Piston revealed as first 'Steam Box'


Valve opened up, and out came the Piston: A micro PC collaboration between Valve and computer manufacturer Xi3 was revealed as a development-stage "Steam Box" at the Consumer Electronics Show tonight. The system codenamed Piston was built from the ground up to bring Steam's network and library of games to living room HDTVs with minimal fuss.

Polygon reports the computer, which appears to be about the size of two moderate-to-beefy fists held together, is optimized for Steam's Big Picture Mode. Xi3 developed Piston through a partnership with Valve.

"[T]his 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," president, founder, and CEO of Xi3 Jason Sullivan said.

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell said in December that his company planned to back its own horse in the coming living room PC battle, though it will still fully support externally developed hardware.

Specifications for Piston are still scarce and likely to change, though Xi3 confirmed the system will hold up to a terabyte of internal storage and have modular component upgrades for its CPU and RAM. Xi3 did not reveal Piston's operating system, though it already supports Linux in other models, and Valve recently pushed Steam's client for the open-source OS into open beta.

Piston is based on Xi3's current "performance level" X7A, which is depicted in the picture above. That system runs for $999, though its entry-level X5A runs at $499. Xi3 did not comment on Piston's price range.

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  • Doctalen - January 9, 2013 7:38 a.m.

    Interesting. In the past year I have admittly moved away from console gaming. I barely touch my 360. But this combination makes me rethink that. I don't want to use my TV for gaming too much anymore since using a computer is easier. But giving the information so far, it looks like I'll reconsider that. But if it's any more then a few hundred dollars, I don't want to buy it. Especially when all I need to do is get some cables to hook up my computer to the TV.
  • TheDudeFromNowhere - January 9, 2013 2:05 a.m.

    Ah man, that price prediction ... I really hope it isn't even close to being that expensive. Maybe $200 or $300 at most. $400 maybe pushing it, but I'd say that would be acceptable... to a certain extent.
  • jackthemenace - January 8, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    That price tag upsets me. As much as I'd love what would essentially a PC experience brought to consoles, I already have a £1000 computer that can use Steam and it'd be much cheaper to go through the rigmarole of setting up the software to let me use a 360 controller than to buy a £400 console. Somewhere around the £200 mark I could justify, maybe, since the games are so heap, but £4-500's a little too much, really.
  • ParagonT - January 8, 2013 6:36 a.m.

    Or they could just require maximum controller and local multi-player support and call it a day. I would think that if anyone wanted Steam to be in their living room TV that they would have already moved the PC there already. If the thing is going to cost around five hundred bucks to a thousand, then you might as well buy a secondary Desktop with most likely better parts for cheaper and put that in your living room. I understand that a PC could possibly be huge depending on the tower case, but it's like that for a reason. Spacious, for airflow and ease of part changing. I just don't see a good reason for this. But I will admit, if they are going into the market and can out spec the other consoles coming out, then I know who my champion will be if they are going to anyways.
  • masterjoe123 - January 8, 2013 4:09 a.m.

    So many new systems! I have a feeling this year is going to be very confusing for the video game industry.
  • yoyoguy - January 8, 2013 1:38 a.m.

    I'm not so sure about this. I'm a big PC guy and Valve fan, but still, Valve really needs to do this right.

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