The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show should be Valve's big coming out party for the SteamOS gaming platform and third-party Steam Machines, which aim to drag PC gaming into the living room. The company's CES keynote is scheduled for Monday afternoon, but early details about Valve's Steam Machine partners are already leaking out.
Engadget recently reported a list of more than twelve companies that are expected to be early supporters of Valve's SteamOS platform. The purported Steam Machine hardware makers that concern U.S. Steam fans include Dell's Alienware, CyberPowerPC, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte, Origin PC, Scan Computer, and Zotac. Steam Machines from iBuyPower and Digital Storm were tipped earlier and are also expected at CES.
With the exception of Dell and Gigabyte, most of these names are probably not recognizable to mainstream computer buyers. They are known to gamers and homebrew PC enthusiasts, however, making them logical choices for a new gaming platform more likely to attract enthusiasts than anyone else.
Nevertheless, it would be interesting if other mainstream companies like HP or Toshiba followed Dell's purported foray into the world of Steam Machines. With Windows looking wobbly, devices powered by SteamOS could help computer makers diversify their offerings beyond Chromebooks and the occasional flirtation with Ubuntu Linux laptops.
Valve's Debian Linux-based SteamOS only came out as beta software in December. Around the same time, 300 people were lucky enough to be picked as beta testers for Valve's Steam Machine reference device.
But with CES getting into full swing this week, Valve should lay out its plans for 2014 including Steam Machine partners, the SteamOS game lineup (a killer exclusive perhaps ?), release dates, and (if we're lucky) pricing.
Beyond SteamOS and Steam Machines, Valve may also use CES to tease its virtual reality plans. Valve is already a big supporter of the Oculus Rift VR headset, but the company is expected to demo its own VR headset during Valve's developer conference later in January.
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