Weekend tech reading: Valve working on a "Steam Box" console?

By on March 4, 2012, 2:58 PM

Exclusive: Valve said to be working on 'Steam Box' gaming console with partners, could announce at GDC Recently there's been chatter that Valve -- the company behind the massively popular gaming service Steam -- has been considering getting into the hardware business. Specifically, there have been rumors that the company has been toying with the idea of creating a proper set-top console which could potentially pose a threat to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will." The Verge

Time Machine: Why didn't Internet on TV take off in 1983? The AT&T Tech Channel has another set of golden videos from the '80s - this time, they're highlighting the Viewtron system which let people access information, news, play games and conduct online banking through a remote-controlled (infra-red) keyboard and connected via telephone modem to a TV set. One of the big hopes for the system was online shopping, but as this AT&T post notes, "one of the online shopping sites had only logged a paltry 11 direct orders." ITworld

Anonymous, decentralized and uncensored file-sharing is booming The file-sharing landscape is slowly adjusting in response to the continued push for more anti-piracy tools, the final Pirate Bay verdict, and the raids and arrests in the Megaupload case. Faced with uncertainty and drastic changes at file-sharing sites, many users are searching for secure, private and uncensored file-sharing clients. Despite the image its name suggests, RetroShare is one such future-proof client. TorrentFreak

Lawsuit against US Copyright Group for fraud & extortion moves forward US Copyright Group was the first of the US-based copyright trolls, suing thousands of individuals in a single lawsuit, trying to get them to pay up (rather than going through an actual trial). US Copyright Group is really a front for a DC law firm, Dunlapp, Grubb & Weaver. One of its very first "big" lawsuits was against about 5,000 people for supposedly partaking in the sharing of Uwe Boll's Far Cry. TechDirt

The future of CPU scaling: Exploring options on the cutting edge In our first article, we discussed the problems facing CPU scaling and how neither multi-core or heterogeneous many-core designs are a long-term solution. This follow-up addresses what the semiconductor industry is doing about it. It’s a question best answered in two parts: Near-term innovations (think 3-5 years out) and longer-term research initiatives. ExtremeTech

For impatient Web users, an eye blink is just too long to wait Wait a second. No, that's too long. Remember when you were willing to wait a few seconds for a computer to respond to a click on a Web site or a tap on a keyboard? These days, even 400 milliseconds -- literally the blink of an eye -- is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. That barely perceptible delay causes people to search less. The NY Times

Innovation or hype? Ars examines Nokia's 41 megapixel smartphone camera Nokia ignited a bit of a controversy on Monday when it unveiled a smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera sensor dubbed the 808 PureView. Yes, you read that right—41 megapixels, not 14, or 4.1. It will soon be possible to buy a smartphone with as many megapixels as some low-end, medium-format digital SLRs. Ars Technica

Ralph McQuarrie, visual designer of 'Star Wars,' passes away at 82 Ralph McQuarrie is probably more directly responsible for the texture of my dream life between the ages of 7 and 13 than any other visual artist.  Simply put, the choices he made regarding the design of the world of "Star Wars" were one of the main reasons that film resonated not just with me, but with generations of viewers now. HitFix




User Comments: 18

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psycros psycros said:

LOL @ "The Verge". That site is to tech news what Metro is to UIs - total FAIL. They almost make Engadget look good. Also, regarding the Steam console: if their planning such a thing its going to work like OnLive, not a proper console - I guarantee it.

princeton princeton said:

If they make it they should call it something like the Steam Engine.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

That was pretty ambitious for 1983.

Steam Engine would be an awesome name.

penn919 said:

Well the only reason Onlive differentiates itself from its competitors is the fact that it caters itself towards those who can't afford a decent gaming rig and/or want to game on the go. A steam "console" would be no different than a PC, and presumably worse because you probably won't be allowed to upgrade without voiding the warranty. I don't see the point in that at all.

ramonsterns said:

I'm glad everyone read the article and noticed that it will actually just be a prebuilt computer. Oh wait, no one did that and resorted to making stuff up.

penn919 said:

Dude, the title says "Valve said to be working on 'Steam Box' gaming console".

ramonsterns said:

penn919 said:

Dude, the title says "Valve said to be working on 'Steam Box' gaming console".

And the article says otherwise.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

Oh valve, why do you hurt me by releasing no information on the fate of gordon freeman? The box is cute but if there's no half-life, it is useless to me.

cocofireah said:

So that, actually juse be a prebuit computer.

Guest said:

Here's hoping Half-Life 3 won't be a "Steam Box" exclusive...

RH00D RH00D said:

People are taking this Steam console stuff way out of proportions and context that it's almost making me nauseous. Gabe said they would make hardware if they *needed to* in order to achieve or go forward with one of their *software projects* but that they **don't want to make hardware** and want to let the people who are good at it, be the ones making the hardware.

So what have we learned? Valve DOESN'T WANT to make hardware. But if they need to they will.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They said they are apparently going to use Intel CPU (i7 Sandy equiv) and Nvidia GPU for their Console.

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

Here's hoping Half-Life 3 won't be a "Steam Box" exclusive...

Oh, for fucks sake.

Did no one read the article?

Tomorrow_Rains said:

Too long, didn't read. Here's hoping Steam doesn't try selling pre-built computers with no upgrade capability.

RH00D RH00D said:

EXCellR8 said:

Oh valve, why do you hurt me by releasing no information on the fate of gordon freeman? The box is cute but if there's no half-life, it is useless to me.

On the Penny Arcade article where he originally made the comments about making hardware he also kind of indirectly stated that Half-Life's next installment is in development. He said something like "we don't want to say something then disappoint them" (by delaying the release) and that they basically will announce projects once they are more fully baked. And that response from Gabe was his reply to Ben's question regarding Half-Life 3.

I guess it'd be easier to understand if you go read the article. My paraphrasing isn't so great haha.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

penn919 said:

A steam "console" would be no different than a PC, and presumably worse because you probably won't be allowed to upgrade without voiding the warranty. I don't see the point in that at all.

While I still doubt the rumour, I don't see this particular point as a significant issue. Most people just don't upgrade. Consoles aren't upgradeable (except for disk space) and people are okay with this, and laptops also are not upgradeable (except for disk and RAM) and most people choose them over a desktop.

A console based on PC hardware might cost less than a comparable PC of that form factor, and be attractive for that. Given a console OS it will also provide better gaming performance than a PC with similar hardware. So the idea is not without merit.

colinf said:

Tomorrow_Rains said:

Too long, didn't read. Here's hoping Steam doesn't try selling pre-built computers with no upgrade capability.

then read it, you understand more

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've always thought there was a massive potential for a "consolized" PC platform. Standardize the hardware, lock into just a few resolutions (720 and 1080 probably), and streamline the OS for the gaming experience. Possibly modularize the hardware to allow for some easy incremental upgrades along the way (such as a GPU module).

I suppose something like Windows 8 could be molded to be an optimized quick-launch operating system, but it might be too clumsy to fit the simple gaming console concept. I have pondered a stripped down and customized Linux gaming build in the past, that could provide an "instant on" feel, would be able to portal to something like Steam as the default, and could still provide some of the basic HTPC functionality when desired (basically like the PS3 before they axed the "other OS" options)... Other than the whole issue of porting everything to Linux, that is. Bleh.

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