A device, developed by mini-pc maker Xi3 made it’s first appearance a few days ago at CES 2013. Xi3 announced “an investment from Valve corporation” and a “new development stage computer game system”, which was showcased at Valve and Xi3 booths during the conference. The device, which is still in development, will be optimised for computer game play on large, hi-definition displays, and will be designed specifically to support Steam and Big picture mode. As a result, founder, president and CEO of Xi3, Jason A. Sullivan announced, “this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading games consoles, but can fit into the palm of your hands”.
Details concerning the specs of the product are quite limited at the moment, but according to Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis, the device, codenamed ‘Piston’, will offer up to 1 TB of internal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC’s CPU and RAM. The demo unit of the “Piston” at CES featured an IO keyboard boasting one ethernet port, 1/8” audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports (with one dedicated to keyboard input), 4 eSATAp ports, 2 Mini Display Port ports and 1 Display Port/HDMI Port. Xi3 refused to discuss the price of the “Piston” but commented that the device is based on its “performance level” X7A offering, which is priced at $999, and further declined to comment on what would differentiate “Piston” hardware-wise from a standard X7A.
Due to Xi3’s close affiliation with Valve, the announcement of this new gaming device, and Valve’s much hyped move into the console market that was teased last year, it is highly reasonable to suggest this is the first public appearance of Valve’s oft-rumored “Steam Box”. However, since CES, Valve’s co-founder Gabe Newell has made it clear that the “Steam Box” console is a completely separate device to the Xi3 “Piston”. According to Mr. Newell, an internally developed “Steam box”, codenamed “Big Foot”, is being worked on and is a different device to the one Valve invested in and is working on with Xi3. “We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to customers by ourselves”. If you were hoping for a release date in the near future though, don’t hold your breath, Valve hardware engineer Ben Krasnow told “Engadget” that the company has no current plans to announce anything in 2013. So if the Xi3 “Piston” didn’t grab your attention you can always wait for the official “Steam Box”, and for the latest news on both devices make sure to check us out here at Techzwn.com.