Valve unveils first Steam Box hardware for big-screen gaming

Piston all over the competition

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Valve's first foray into the world of hardware has been unveiled as a PC-type box appropriately codenamed Piston.

It's a development stage system, which means we shouldn't expect to see this particular model on shop floors any time soon, but the Piston project is intended to show off Steam game play on large high-definition TVs, making use of the company's "Big Picture" mode.

Built in partnership with Xi3, Piston is described by the company as a "uniquely shaped, grapefruit-size" computer chassis, with the first iteration being showcased at CES 2013. Here it is hastily mocked up next to a grapefruit for scale:

Steam Box Grapefruit
[Grapefruit image courtesy of Ollie Crafoord under CC]

Die consoles, die

"This new development stage product will allow users to take full advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience," said Jason Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3.

Looking to the future, he added that the two companies have their collective sights firmly set on traditional game consoles:

"This new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand."

Lofty intentions indeed, although the existence of the Piston project isn't too surprising given that Valve's CEO Gabe Newell confirmed that the company was working on a Steam Box in December last year.