Steam Deck 1 Year Review video – CNET

Gaming

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Steam Deck 1 Year Review

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Speaker 1: It’s been just over one year since the steam deck was released. And this is a great example. I think an example you don’t see very often of a product that actually gets a lot better the more time that passes since it initially comes out, that’s not because the hardware has gotten better, it’s locked in this plastic case, you can’t really do anything about that. But due to software updates, UX updates, and uh, a whole community of gamers and game developers working to make their games, uh, function well on this device, it’s a much more universally useful device now than [00:00:30] it was when it first came out early in 2022. This is especially unusual because this is a handheld gaming pc and over the many years I have been testing and reviewing these things, the highway is littered with the burned out shells of people who tried to create a handheld computer, something that had almost all the functions of a regular laptop or desktop, but in handheld form nobody could ever really get it to work, right. And this is more ambitious because it’s a gaming machine, not just a regular productivity machine.

Speaker 1: [00:01:00] Moreover, valve the company behind this that also owns Steam, the online gaming store, uh, they don’t have the best record when it comes to hardware releases. They’ve done steam controllers, they’ve done the Steam Link, they’re behind these little gaming PCs called Steam Boxes and really none of those really set the world on fire. So I did not have super high expectations when I first got to try out the steam deck, even though I love the Steam deck [00:01:30] now. A lot about it still feels kind of like first generation hardware to me. It’s kind of big, it’s kind of clunky. There’s a really a gigantic bezel around the screen that really makes it feel even smaller than it is. The controls aren’t super ergonomic and frankly there’s not a lot of computing power you can expect from something that starts at $400 and there are some more expensive versions with, uh, higher storage capacities, but the, but the CPU GPU combo from amd, that’s the same everywhere now. When the Steam deck first came out, I said it was a machine [00:02:00] for basically people who were PC gaming tinkerers who didn’t mind getting in there and uh, you know, messing with settings and experimenting and trying different things to get games to run because it was really hard to get a lot of games to run on here. Uh, I did not think it was a device for the faint of heart.

Speaker 1: Since then, however, the seam Dick has had a fantastic evolution over the past year. There have been tons of OS updates of UX updates of software updates, of game support updates. Some of those come directly from Valve in terms of software system [00:02:30] updates. Uh, better control for your game catalog, more efficient use of the fan, uh, better ability to transfer data between uh, a micro SD card and an external drive and the internal drive. All these really add a lot and a lot of the improvements come from people outside of Valve who are making sure that their games are ready to run on the steam deck. Uh, which has become a pretty popular platform for a lot of PC gaming these days. Any new game that comes out, I pretty much automatically assume it’s gonna work okay on the steam deck, [00:03:00] even if it’s a game that normally requires a keyboard and mouse.

Speaker 1: That’s why these little touch pads here are so valuable. Uh, they actually come the closest I think to emulating, uh, trying to do a keyboard and mouse setup on something that’s handheld and that’s actually some technology they did adopt from the old steam controller. You can often now greatly expand your steam deck by adding external accessories. Like a dock valve makes their own dock. A lot of other third company parties make docks and you can put the thing in the dock, connect it to your TV and hook up like a Bluetooth controller and use it like a little game console. It’s not suited the best [00:03:30] for that because you’re still running the machine that’s supposed to play it low resolutions. And if you’re blowing it up on a 4K screen, it’s not gonna perfect. But I’d like the idea that you can plug this into basically a USBC hub and get a lot of expandability out of it. There are even hubs that have their own external, uh, memory slots for M 0.2 drives. Um, with a little, uh, playing around, you can actually use that for extra game storage.

Speaker 1: But the real reason I think that the steam deck works now and works now so much better than it did initially is that it really makes the games the star. Uh, you’re not super [00:04:00] worried about, uh, playing the games at the highest quality setting. You’re not worried about the resolution. This thing is locked in at uh, 1280 by 800. It’s not super high resolution, which actually lets it get away with a lot cuz you can run games at, you know, 30 or 60 frames per second as long as you’re running it at that lower resolution. And when something new comes out, like Hogwarts legacy, which is a great game, everybody loves, uh, guess what? It works fantastic on the steam deck and there’s not gonna be a Nintendo Switch version of that for a while if it ever even comes out. [00:04:30] So handheld wise, this is the best way to play Hogwarts legacy.

Speaker 1: Of course there is still some work to do. Uh, the battery life is still not great. Game compatibility is still an issue sometimes and trying to get other game stores like the Epic game store or good old games or access things like, uh, cloud gaming from, uh, Microsoft or GForce. Now these are all doable, but you have to kind of go under the hood and in some cases go into the Linux desktop mode, hiding underneath the Steam os to get to it. And you know, frankly, that’s not something [00:05:00] a casual consumer is going to want to do. And that’s really where the difference is between this system and something like the Nintendo Switch. That’s much more plug and play and anybody can just pick up and use all its capabilities immediately. Now I’m gonna give you one bit of steam deck buying advice. There are actually three models you can buy.

Speaker 1: There’s a 3 99 base model. There’s a 5 29 in the middle and there’s a six 50. Uh, and those two more expensive ones have more storage space built in and the top one also has a slightly different screen coating of those. Get the middle one, the 5 29 1, [00:05:30] the 3 99 1. It’s only got 64 gigs of storage. Even if you put in an extra micro SD card, it’s just gonna be annoying. Hard to use, go for the middle ground and then add a five 12 gig or even a one terabyte micro SD card, which I did. Uh, and then you’re gonna have room for tons of games. I hope that valve and game developers and game publishers continue to support the steam deck through updates, especially because it’s apparently gonna be probably a couple of years before we see a new version of this. Maybe with a bigger screen, more processing power, maybe a better battery. [00:06:00] But for now it looks like this is the hardware we’re stuck with. But based on the initial year, I think that it’s got a long life ahead of it.

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