For most of 2012, Valve hinted at the possibility that it would be entering the hardware market in 2013 with a Steam box of sorts. In short, it would be a PC optimized to play games downloaded from Steam. Now the device is a reality as the first of potentially many Steam boxes was revealed this week during CES 2013.
Xi3Corporation jointly announced with Valve that it will be bringing Piston, "a development stage system optimized for computer gameplay on large high-definition television monitors," to homes in the future. In other words, the Steam box is real, and it will bring PC gaming to your television.
"Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3," said Jason A. Sullivan , founder, President and CEO of Xi3. "This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this 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."
What makes this particular "Steam box" interesting is that Xi3 Corporation, the company behind the device, has received an undisclosed investment from Valve. That makes Piston a bit more official in my eyes and could lead to Valve doing some interesting stuff with it.
As for the actual specs of the unit, they're not saying much. Engadget reports some initial details, including the system's quad-core chip, support for up to 1TB of storage, and a modular motherboard for upgrades. Beyond that, we'll have to wait until Xi3 or Valve say more.
In the meantime, here's some pictures of the mini-PC courtesy of radnerd on Reddit: