Last night, Kelly and I were having an argument about why someone would spend a thousand dollars to buy a Steam Box. Valve had been trumpeting a design made by Xi3 during CES at the beginning of the year and talked down virtually every other player in the space. Well, they ended up just bashing Microsoft a lot. The use case for something like this, I argued, is definitely for the hardcore. At any rate, you’ll have to wait a bit longer because despite the clever specs, Xi3′s Piston PC isn’t an official Steam box at all.
“But HP made computers a long time ago, ones that ran Windows Media Center, and they flopped!” Kelly said. I couldn’t disagree with him, but in my counterpoint as the devil’s advocate, I explained the living room PC has made some big strides. Just like when Microsoft announced they had nailed down the future of tablets in 2002 with a modified version of Windows XP and that space failed to take off until Apple did that one thing, With a new, simplified interface in Windows 8 with a(n admittedly still small) ecosystem of apps to boot as well as Steam’s Big Picture mode and the unification of HDMI connections and so forth, there’s never been a better time for some player to make it big in the living room PC space. Yeah, you’d buy this small box to hook up to your TV instead of a massive black tower that we’d normally associate with a PC.
You can still buy one of these things, though and it’ll still probably be a decent idea. It just doesn’t have the Steam stamp of approval, that’s all.