Valve has been steering close to the console market for some time now with its latest designs, including the Steam Machine. But the new Steam Link is set to fill a different role – a TV device for avid computer players who are already longtime fans of Steam.
If you don’t know about Steam, it’s a giant online portal where you buy and play mmes, and it’s the best thing to ever happen to PC gaming. “PC” is an operative adjective there, because Steam is not available for any current consoles. That’s one of the things that the Steam Machine is trying to change, but Steam Link is solving the problem in a different way altogether.
Plug the Link into your TV’s HDMI port, plug the accompanying control through a USB (which can be from a favored console, such as the PS4, and connect to your Internet. This allows you to play a Steam game from your computer, but stream the image to your TV.
Why is this cool? Well, if you already have a powerful network and big ole PC dedicated to gaming, you probably don’t feel like spending much more. Also, Link can still make use of that powerful machine, so you aren’t wasting all that juicy GPU or RAM. Finally, you can play everything in your Steam library just as if you were on your PC instead of your computer.
Now, hardcore gamers are immediately going to be wary of anything that streams to another screen because of issues with lag. Even a fraction of a second can be a big different in many games. While the connection is in real-time, this does not guarantee an absence of lag. A lot depends on distance, objects in the way, Internet quality, and so on. A wired connection is highly recommended to circumvent many of these problems. It’s not a perfect solution…it’s just a very nice one (Valve advertises Link alongside pics of notoriously twitchy fighting games, so they are definitely trying to meet these worries head-on).
Steam Link will be dropping in November, so get your Christmas list ready now. Preorders are available for $50, but last time we checked Valve was out of stock…at least for now.