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Valve’s First Hardware Thing Goes Beta Next Year

Wearable computing is a ways off, but something else might not be.

With the launch of Big Picture Mode's beta, the PC is becoming more viable for the TV.

It’s hard to tell if Valve is always flying by the seat of its pants, or if it’s carefully calculated this “shrug, we’ll figure it out” image to make us think they’re all just hanging out and high-fiving all day.

Anyway, there’s been plenty of speculation about what Valve is up to hardware-wise, whether it’s crafting a cheaper PC box to faciliate Steam purchases for the masses, wearable computing, or something else entirely. (It's probably a bit of everything).

According to an interview with Valve hardware designer Jeri Ellsworth over at Engadget, we’ll have a better idea of what Valve is cooking up next year, when one of its ideas goes beta.

What is this idea? No one knows, but Valve has the resources to do small production runs for a beta test that will likely be figured out through Steam. We do, however, know Valve’s internal motto.

“To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room,” said Ellsworth.

As broad a mandate as that might be, it also gives you a pretty good idea what direction Valve’s headed in. With all these people dragging PCs into the living room, maybe Valve’s got some plans to make that less of a logistical headache. Plus, Ellsworth said it's a few years out before we see anything from them regarding wearable computing.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
With the launch of Big Picture Mode's beta, the PC is becoming more viable for the TV.

It’s hard to tell if Valve is always flying by the seat of its pants, or if it’s carefully calculated this “shrug, we’ll figure it out” image to make us think they’re all just hanging out and high-fiving all day.

Anyway, there’s been plenty of speculation about what Valve is up to hardware-wise, whether it’s crafting a cheaper PC box to faciliate Steam purchases for the masses, wearable computing, or something else entirely. (It's probably a bit of everything).

According to an interview with Valve hardware designer Jeri Ellsworth over at Engadget, we’ll have a better idea of what Valve is cooking up next year, when one of its ideas goes beta.

What is this idea? No one knows, but Valve has the resources to do small production runs for a beta test that will likely be figured out through Steam. We do, however, know Valve’s internal motto.

“To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room,” said Ellsworth.

As broad a mandate as that might be, it also gives you a pretty good idea what direction Valve’s headed in. With all these people dragging PCs into the living room, maybe Valve’s got some plans to make that less of a logistical headache. Plus, Ellsworth said it's a few years out before we see anything from them regarding wearable computing.

Staff
Edited by MasterXell

I think this is a good thing, I think Value has all the potential of making a console for people who dont want to connect their PC's to the TV, but wish they could play on the bigger screens. Big Picture Mode is just the first part of that.

Posted by aceofspudz

I hope it's a box that solves the 'my pc is in a different room than my television' issue. I would pump my fist and look directly into the camera.

If it's a console with hardware and specs, RIP Valve.

Posted by insanejedi

“To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room,” said Ellsworth.

Ah god damn it. This already exists, It's called wireless HDMI and it works perfectly fine today. Just hook it up into your desktop, then your TV and then you have steam on your TV without moving the gigantic box.

Posted by EvilNiGHTS
Posted by FilipHolm

Alright, sure...

Posted by bemusedchunk

If they can get a good i5 processor, 4gb of ram, and some expandable hdd/flash drive and video card, they've got themselves a hit. I also see Steam refreshing this box every year or so.

Imagine: a small box that you have the ability to either A) Upgrade some components such as storage and videocard, or B) Purchase a new refresh every year or so when it comes out.

Posted by Jayzilla

Valve can take their sweet time. I will forget about this and then Tricky will write an article about this again in 2014 and I will go, "Oh yeah! I remember that."

Posted by GunsAreDrawn

I don't see the point of this article.

Posted by AlexW00d
Online
Posted by JCTango

@patrickklepek: Probably a minipc sort of thing for steam gaming!

Posted by tonygxp

@insanejedi said:

Ah god damn it. This already exists, It's called wireless HDMI and it works perfectly fine today. Just hook it up into your desktop, then your TV and then you have steam on your TV without moving the gigantic box.

It costs way too much as it is now. I'm not going to spend $150 - $200 for that.

Posted by WJist

@insanejedi: Except that to get some Steam games working in Big Picture Mode, you have to tool around in the settings. Also, I feel like the latency and lag issues surrounding wireless HDMI hasn't been completely solved.

Edited by Jams

@insanejedi said:

“To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room,” said Ellsworth.

Ah god damn it. This already exists, It's called wireless HDMI and it works perfectly fine today. Just hook it up into your desktop, then your TV and then you have steam on your TV without moving the gigantic box.

I looked into this for big box mode and the wireless solutions don't work for me. Well, the wireless video part would probably work, but what about the kb/m or controller? My computer is at the other end of the house to my TV, so regular wireless wouldn't work. It'd be nice if they came up with a gigabit LAN solution to this that let you plug a kb/m and controller along with the video.

Edit: something like Onlive but that runs off of your computer instead of theirs.

Edited by Heath

its going to be a controler + a wireless usb hub IMO. Both shit and pointless valve have lost thur way. After Playing BLack MESA you realise they havent added any thing new to gaming since 1998 other than a shop. People compare them to Blizzard but they are complacently different Blizzard borrows ideas and DESIGNS games Valve just sell games ... they have just become a publishing house..

And people who worship them on PC .. are just ffking sad holding onto some dream they had at a lan party in the early 2000s of a future that doesn't exist. Valve do not publish there sales data because its not impressive... wake up out of the Dream people in 6months you will be like why the hell is my noisy pc beside my TV and that will be the end of that.

Every one is getting worked up about PC gaming this year saying its back on top etc..and thing its going to return to some era from the 2000s-2005 your just dreaming guys the way Sony talk about there new Slim PS3 pretty much confirms PS4 released next year and Xbox revision of first the Dpad and then the analog stick (yes there is a new analog stick design in very new 360 controlers of limited edition) you realise that the bits of the next gen are already here.. they put a Xbox v3 analog stick in the new 360 controllers.. FACT. what exactly are you going to play on PC for the next 6months thats going to revolutionse PC gaming and make it like it was back in the Lan party days of the early 2000s.. DayZ (lol)? .... thats like 1 game and i can thing of one other (blizzards new MMO) but with bungie signing a 1 year exclusivity on there MMOs first year on 360 you can bet that will cover the year leading up to the Xboxv3 release next year or the year after.... fact is people are getting all worked up about moving there pc to the living room and seeing it play at 1080p rather than 720p... when TRU pc gamers not just console boys jumping on steam cuz its trendy have been playing at resolutions close to 4k via 30inch or eyefinity for like lol half a decade already. Literaly all this Trend is doing is making console players see what it would be like to get a WiiU its that sad. PC still has no games and the people that are jumping on this STeam Sale sexy trend are not even core PC gamers .. its all just a big foolish play to get as much money as they can out of us before the true next gen starts that will pro be gaming at resolutions between 1920x1080 > 4k some where in the middle i would expect.. and thats going to impress you alot more not to mention games actualy CODED for 8cores as microsoft is adopting that now.. REALITY check PC GAMES ARE made for 1-2 cores at best and usualy its just for sound. PC is a Development platform.. You may get a nice set up and think your steam libary looks sexy but when the only new IP that comes out for you is 1 new mmo from blizzard... that is made for the core pc audience not the jumping ship console crowd you will feel pretty silly for making your Living room a noisy mess of cables. People need to wake up and see that Valve is not more progressive than Good old Games ... they are scamming people thinking they are creating a "console" on PC... alot of people are going to be disapointed if they dont think about these realitys before they blindly think a company with no new creative ideas ... studios or willingness to fun first party is a good company to throw 200 at for some controler made by 5 intern grads and the rest of the company just a bunch of people in a office and afue guys tooling around on a engine from 2005 saying its "being meaninfully updated" and selling posters and cute stuff to internet addicts.

Valve is sad and exploitative of gamers WAKE UP GROW UP its not 2002

Posted by radioactivez0r

@Heath: Is English your first language?

Posted by taz88ny

With all of these Humble Bundle sales, I'll have plenty of content to play on a Steam Console. Looking forward to it.

- Luis

Posted by Jumbs

@Heath said:

its going to be a controler + a wireless usb hub IMO. Both shit and pointless valve have lost thur way. After Playing BLack MESA you realise they havent added any thing new to gaming since 1998 other than a shop. People compare them to Blizzard but they are complacently different Blizzard borrows ideas and DESIGNS games Valve just sell games ... they have just become a publishing house..

And people who worship them on PC .. are just ffking sad holding onto some dream they had at a lan party in the early 2000s of a future that doesn't exist. Valve do not publish there sales data because its not impressive... wake up out of the Dream people in 6months you will be like why the hell is my noisy pc beside my TV and that will be the end of that.

This is a troll right

Posted by HellBrendy

Through Steam? What, I'm going to download more RAM and a new graphics card?

"It’s hard to tell if Valve is always flying by the seat of its pants, or if it’s carefully calculated this “shrug, we’ll figure it out” image to make us think they’re all just hanging out and high-fiving all day."

I think it's both. Flying by the seat of it's pants while high-fiving all day.

Posted by ChrisTaran

@GunsAreDrawn said:

I don't see the point of this article.

I don't see the point of this comment.

Posted by TheHT

This is good news.

Posted by brandonleedy

The possibilities! An upgradeable living-room Steam Box could be pretty cool. If it was as easy as pop-in, pop-out upgrades they could really be on to something. And if Valve could pick a Low, Mid, and High Grade of each component, you could buy what you're comfortable with at the time and upgrade later. Essentially, they just need to make upgrading the internals of your machine less scary to consumers. Easier said than done, haha.

Then again, maybe they aren't aiming for console consumers? The Steam audience who would buy and see the value of a living room PC may be much of the same crowd that is completely cool with upgrading PC components. If Valve made only 3 Steam Boxes (a low, mid, and high range PC) and said "Here's the list of components that we've approved as best for upgrading your system. And here's some easy instructions on how to upgrade it your self." they might also have something really useable for a ton of Steam customers.

Finally, in my mind I don't see the HDMI-over-wireless thing as being "there yet" in terms of consistent quality without lag, but we've got no idea what's up Valve's sleeve. To be honest, I'm still surprised and delighted at how well Apple's Airplay works with games and an Apple TV. Now obviously that's not full HD at times and it too hitches up and lags a bit, but it's progress nevertheless. We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm at least excited to be waiting for something from a company like Valve.

Posted by misclet

i'm gonna be an asshole. "seam of their pants"

Posted by DaveC524

IMO, Valve needs to make a controller for Big Picture mode and maybe even a box that allows high quality wireless HDMI and USB (for connecting my Valve branded X-input PC controller of course).

Edited by WasabiCurry

@Jumbs: Total Troll; he just compared Steam to GoG and said they are the same. He stated, "People need to wake up and see that Valve is not more progressive than Good old Games ..." Ironic being that Good old Games have no form of DRM and proudly supports its' community.

Posted by roughneck117

@Heath:

Edited by Sooty

"With the launch of Big Picture Mode's beta, the PC is becoming more viable for the TV."

PC is already viable for TVs and they have been for many years. I was using my PC on a 37" HDTV as a desktop monitor back in 2007 or so. For couch use then sleek wireless keyboard/mouse combos have been around for a long time, Xbox 360 pads have made this easier, big picture mode makes it extra easy, but doesn't really do anything towards making it more viable. Big picture mode merely eliminates the need for having a wireless keyboard & mouse as part of your couch PC gaming setup.

The sentence suggests that something was fundamentally flawed when having a PC connected to a TV, which is really not hitting any truths at all.

Posted by Hamst3r
Posted by koolaid39

@roughneck117: I took a look at his profile and some of his older posts. Now my eyes won't stop bleeding.

Posted by Rogueski

@Jams said:

Edit: something like Onlive but that runs off of your computer instead of theirs.

This would be the most obvious idea. Onlive was giving away consoles. If Valve could tap in to your Network and stream an image of your screen, while sending control info the other way, then this would be the best/cheapest way of having your PC in your living room. The software to do this could be written straight in to Steam, that is already running on your machine.

Posted by Hexuality

A Microsoft-less gamepad seems entirely plausible. Maybe they just make a Phantom Lapboard with a fat Steam logo on it.

Posted by Jackel2072

yeah Valve hardware Beta. sign me the fuck up! il get a microchip implanted in my head, why not?

Edited by believer258

OK, I've got a good question: Is it legal for Valve to make a controller that emulates the 360 controller? The same way that you can use MotionJoy with a PS3 controller to emulate a 360 controller?

I ask because if this is their end goal, then they need to realize that 360 controllers have pretty much become the universal standard. They'll either have to ship with a 360 controller in it or make their own offbrand controller; it would suck if this failed because they had to tell people that the controller is sold separately.

EDIT: Also, on the subject of moving computers into the living room - that doesn't sound too hard. If you want a small computer to plug into the TV for gaming, then they make those. I saw an Alienware one in Best Buy a few days ago, and if they do it then someone else probably does it better and cheaper. The box in question had an i5 and a GT 545 (crap, but you could fit something better in there) and it was a little smaller than a slim Xbox. Granted, it was pretty expensive, but this Valve box idea already exists in some fashion; the only thing Valve really needs to do is jump in and make it at a better price and more consumer friendly.

For me, though? I'll build my own computers and use the old build in the living room.

Posted by Franstone

@roughneck117 said:

@Heath:

Exactly...

I didn't know what to make of that, nor did I want to address it with the book I could write in response.

Never mind that mess but he seems to hate PCs and the early 2000s, very passionate hate I might add.

I for some reason couldn't help myself, had to keep reading, I'll give him that.

Lets not provoke him further though, not sure I can take such comedy.

Posted by AhmadMetallic

No Half-Life 3 anywhere to be seen, and this article is not about Valve's ambition to revolutionize the mouse and keyboard as I had hoped. They want to make a fucking console and they want it in your fucking living room under your fucking TV. They want to fucking do it no matter what. THIS IS THE VALVE PLAN NOW!!!!111!1!!!

I'm losing interest in Valve's future plans. I don't see any HL3 in the horizon, I don't see any new cool shit for my PC be it software or hardware anytime in the near future, all I see is my favorite game company trying to fill their pockets more by making Steam a TV platform.. They have the right to make more money, it's business, but I have the right to completely feel alienated by this company. It's like your only favorite drama show on TV suddenly turned into a sitcom, I see a boring future here.

Posted by Ubersmake

Wearable computing? I can't be the only person who thought of this.

Edited by Sparky245

@aceofspudz said:

I hope it's a box that solves the 'my pc is in a different room than my television' issue. I would pump my fist and look directly into the camera.

Posted by neroes

obviously a steambox/hat combo

Posted by Talis12

a more "social" community, steam greenlight and big picture are all steps towards their goal. combine that with the hardware stuff thats going on at valve and you know there is something big going to happen. the big heads of valve know exactly what they are doing.. there's some very smart people over at valve that know what gamers want, know where the opportunities are and how to execute them well.. can anyone tell me something they did that failed? i cant.. hit the market with the right stuff at the right time, thats valve.

Posted by Hunter5024

3 consoles is already too many.

Posted by Ghost_Cat

Personally, I'm glad that Valve has moved on to something else other than making games (unless they secretly are). They recently have become a company where, if there is a universal hurdle or problem in terms of gaming/entertainment, they want pursue a radical solution for it. A risky yet rewarding strategy on multiple levels.

Posted by Winternet

Alyx is like "whooaaaat??"

Edited by oraknabo

I think we're either going to get a Steam console or a line of affordable Steam-centered gaming PCs. With the recent Windows hate and focus on Linux, I wouldn't be surprised if they are Linux driven. Maybe even by their own flavor of Linux with Steam as the package management system.

Posted by Brendan

@AhmadMetallic said:

No Half-Life 3 anywhere to be seen, and this article is not about Valve's ambition to revolutionize the mouse and keyboard as I had hoped. They want to make a fucking console and they want it in your fucking living room under your fucking TV. They want to fucking do it no matter what. THIS IS THE VALVE PLAN NOW!!!!111!1!!!

I'm losing interest in Valve's future plans. I don't see any HL3 in the horizon, I don't see any new cool shit for my PC be it software or hardware anytime in the near future, all I see is my favorite game company trying to fill their pockets more by making Steam a TV platform.. They have the right to make more money, it's business, but I have the right to completely feel alienated by this company. It's like your only favorite drama show on TV suddenly turned into a sitcom, I see a boring future here.

Let's be frank though, it's not like your ideal future is that interesting either. You just want more computer stuff for your computer, as it is defined right now, forever. That's cool, but it's about as boring as it gets.

Posted by Dagbiker
It’s hard to tell if Valve is always flying by the seat of its pants, or if it’s carefully calculated this “shrug, we’ll figure it out” image to make us think they’re all just hanging out and high-fiving all day.

I find this particularly funny considering this is exactly what everyone thinks the bombsquad dose all day, and is one of the reasons why there are so many "What do they do all day?" threads. Not that I have anything against it. I just found it funny.

Posted by yoshisaur

As much as I think the whole "Big Picture" idea was blown out of proportion, I will not lie and say that it's not the best freaking controller UI I've ever used. It's sad that Steam has been able to do what Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony still lack the ability to do: create a viable console/controller UI.

Honestly, I don't want Steam to "make a computer" on my TV, but simply let me stream wirelessly to the big-screen without moving my PC. I don't know if this sort of thing is possible, but I really don't want to shell out more money ($400+) for a machine that does what my PC does, but connects to the TV easier. I can do that now with just buying a new computer and not be limited to restricted hardware and just Steam itself. Let's face it, not everything worth playing comes out on it.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

whatever it is they need to name it the Steam Engine 

Posted by SpartanHoplite

just hope whatever they do, it also has something to do with HL3.

Posted by Hef

You guys are all crazy. This hardware is obviously NEVER going to be a console-like closed system. This is the company that openly lambasted windows 8 and said they're going to get heavily invested in linux.

So whatever they end up making, it's going to be a computer. Whether it runs windows, linux or some weird valve OS, it's going to play PC ass PC games. Honestly it's probably going to be windows cause no one makes games for linux.

Posted by Nentisys

I dont see the point of connecting your PC to your TV for gaming. TVs have really really shit image quality and lag.

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