The area of handheld gaming has made a rather large comeback in recent years after going out of fashion in favor of more powerful larger machines. Although you won’t need a large machine if you plan on just playing online casino games.
Nintendo really brought handheld devices back into play with their Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch was so good that it was practically the only option worth buying when it came to handheld gaming devices for years.
But now after almost five years, other competitors to the Nintendo Switch are slowly making their way onto the market.
The question that might arise could be why has it taken so long for other companies to release handheld devices? The Nintendo Switch is doing amazingly financially so it really doesn’t make sense why other companies hadn’t released their own competition along with it.
The short answer is; they tried. The long answer explains why they failed.
To understand why other companies failed you first have to understand why Nintendo succeeded with their Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is both a handheld console but also a standing console. It can connect to your television and with some more controllers you can play with your whole family.
This obviously already put it at an advantage because when you buy it you aren’t just getting a handheld console but a normal one-two.
The games that Nintendo develop were designed to be easily pausable to let people travel while playing them which puts them at another great advantage due to having games that work very well with the portable traveling form of something like the Nintendo Switch.
Other games by Nintendo are designed for a group to play together, whether that group is a get-together of friends or a family. This makes the ability of the Switch to switch into full console mode an extra incentive for parents to buy it for their children.
These are most of the big factors that really pushed why the Nintendo Switch was as big of a success as it was.
Now many other companies tried to produce a product like the Switch but they simply weren’t able to make something that could compete with the Switch in all of these areas.
That’s where Valves’ newest console the Steamdeck comes into play.
What the Steamdeck has that pushes it ahead
So many of the consoles that came before it just tried to compete with what the Switch was already doing but with their own device.
None of them really offered anything new to the table to make someone want to choose it over the Nintendo Switch.
The Steamdeck has its first new idea by not trying to just be a Nintendo Switch but better.
While the Nintendo Switch is a handheld console designed for playing party games, Nintendo’s games, and other games of a similar style the Steamdeck is pushing itself to be a portable computer.
Obviously, this isn’t the first thing to try and be a portable computer, laptops have been around for decades, but it’s trying to go from something that (as the name says) you have to put on your lap to something you hold in your hands.
This is further aided by the specifications of the Steamdeck. It’s looking like it’s going to be on par with a decent quality desktop pc or laptop.
Along with easily the largest factor in the Steamdecks quality which is its custom unlocked operating system.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch which runs on its own proprietary software, the Steamdeck runs on a version of Linux.
This means you can run any program that would normally be able to run on Linux on it, and that’s pretty much anything.
Because it works this way it means that you don’t even need to buy any games you had again on the Steamdeck, because if you bought them for your computer they’ll work on the Steamdeck.
Since it’s just a handheld computer after all.
On top of all this, you can even just plug a mouse and keyboard into the device, hook it to a screen and use it as a computer.
You could even check your email on it if you really wanted to for some reason.
What are the hardware specs of the Steamdeck?
The specs of the Steamdeck are surprisingly good, especially for its price point. They are on par with some of the newest generation consoles coming out like the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5.
The physical device itself is pretty good with a seven inch screen, that’s also a touch screen. There is a surprising variety in controls on the device too. You have the touchscreen, multiple thumbsticks, a flat pad like what we say on Steams controller, and the new Xbox Pro Controllers.
There are even fancy features like haptic feedback in buttons and pressure response in the triggers on the back. These are used for things when you want some resistance when someone is trying to press a button, like for gas pedals in a racing game or to show off difficulty in your character drawing a bow.
Inside the device are even more impressive things.
In terms of memory, the Steamdeck has a whopping 16 gigabytes of RAM at a super fast speed of 5500MT/s a second. This might mean absolutely nothing to you but it just means that it’s going to make your device run fast.
The CPU is more modest with a basic 4 cores with 8 threads each setup. Something that is a standard place feature in most devices nowadays. It’s nothing really fancy and it would seem out of place in a device meant for gaming if it wasn’t for the standalone graphics board the Steamdeck carries.
Featuring an AMD RDNA 2 which is AMD’s newest system of integrated graphics systems. These GPUs are designed for consoles and connect directly with the device’s CPU meaning they can share the workload a lot easier.
It definitely takes up the slack left behind from the entry level CPU and shows where the processing power is coming from in the Steamdeck.
In terms of battery life, not much is known, since no one has been able to get their hands on a prototype version long enough to run any real tests, but the Valve company says it’s between 2 hours to 8 eight of continuous use depending on how demanding of a game you’re running.
That’s not great when you compare it to the 12 hours the Nintendo Switch can get but with all the added benefits, on top of the much high hardware specifications, it’s no surprise the Steamdeck can’t keep up in battery life.
Storage space is where a little bit of iffiness comes into play.
The cheapest model of the Steamdeck (which is about 400$ dollars as of Valves announcement) only has about 64 gigabytes of storage on it. This is less than most flagship smartphones nowadays.
The next model up jumps in price to 530$ for 256 gigabytes of storage. Then it jumps to 650$ for 512 gigabytes or half a terabyte.
None of these are great especially if you’re planning on installing a lot of new triples A games which are known for their large storage space requirements.
But Valve says there will a microSD slot in the device which you can use to expand the storage as much as you want along with alleged rumors that if you are fine with a little more of a technical challenge you can open the device up and install your own new storage drive inside of it.
Whether or not this will be possible, or if this is even worth it will have to wait until the console comes out, which as of now seems like either holiday 2021 or early 2022.
Only time will tell.
But for now, Valves Steamdeck seems like one of the best deals in terms of both a normal console and a handheld device coming to the market.