Meet the Xi3 Piston, or as I like to call it: Steam Box v1. At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Valve announced a partnership with PC maker Xi3 to produce mini-computers that are optimized to run Steam on big ol’ HDTVs using Big Picture Mode. This should come as no surprised to those who’ve been keeping their ears to the ground regarding Valve’s plans for hardware development. While Xi3 is the first partner in the manufacturing of these Steam PCs, Valve is said to be meeting with fifteen other manufacturers to discuss hardware plans. No word on price or availability, but I’d imagine we’ll be hearing more about this in the lead up to E3 this year.
While there’s been no word on price or specs, I’m going to go ahead and make two assumptions. First, to get a computer down to the size that you’ll want to integrate it in your home theatre set-up, you’ll want a mini ITX or mini ATX based machine. This ensures that the size of the unit is manageable, while still accepting full sized PC parts. Now, the second assumption is based upon the fact that Valve wants to enter the living room, where the resolution standard on screens is 1920×1080 (1080p). This means to get smooth gameplay at the native 1080p resolution, you’ll need a decently beefy system. By my calculations, you’ll want about $800 if you were to build your own Steam Box-like machine. Take that for what you will.
Needless to say, all of this craziness is exciting. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.