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Steam Machines: Coming to your living room at varying prices

If you weren’t aware before, Steam is the long-standing content delivery system created by Valve software, a company famous for making a game called Half-Life back around 1999 which became very well known, mostly for not spawning sequels even though numerous sequels were announced. It was also quite fun to play.

To cut a long story short, Steam is kind of like iTunes for games in that it stores them, it launches them and it manages security for piracy prevention. It also suffers periodic wobblers, although those have “been fixed” (Dr. Evil air quotes). Other features include an inventory of digital trading cards, swappable in-game items and accessories, achievements to achieve and other essential features for the dedicated PC game chiefer.

Steam also recently developed a console-like dashboard feature which is extremely slick, sporting the same standards of presentation as the Xbox Dashboard or the PlayStation XCross Media Bar. You can browse games, stores and community areas seamlessly, and surprisingly this fullscreen dashboard seems to run faster than the original program window we have all grown to know and love (tolerated) over the years (learned to hate passionately) – delete as appropriate.

Image credit: @TheIneQuation

Some time after that, rumors of a standalone console finally culminated in the announcement of a diverse range of Steam Boxes, plus a mysterious controller of mysteries, pictured above. First announced as a touchscreen only controller, like the one from the Wii U but with fewer buttons, Valve has made a u-turn and decided to add some more buttons.

The Steam boxes themselves are to be available from a multitude of manufacturers, all with different specs and price ranges. From budget models to Alienware powerhouses, this range will bring Steam, and its new controller and dashboard, kicking and screaming into the console age. Prices range from $500 to $6000 (US dollars), and these will be available soon via most PC and gadget retailers.

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