The long-running distinction between dedicated game consoles and gaming PCs is disappearing with Valve's announcement of its own operating system, SteamOS. The hardware is changing too, with next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony offering much more than the ability to play disc-based games, not to mention both being built on PC architecture (x86). And PC gaming has never been more friendly in the living room, between Steam's Big Picture Mode and solid gamepad support for many games.
With one of Valve's other announcements last week, Steam Machines finally put a name to the living room PC gaming initiative we've long heard about (what the press dubbed "Steambox"). Though we heard about Xi3's Piston back at CES, and we knew about the company's financial ties to Valve, it was unclear how tied its little modular gaming PC was to the initiative. Now, however, it's more clear than ever: Xi3's release date press release repeatedly describes the Piston as "the Piston Console," meant to push up against the big three game console manufacturers. Sure, it costs $1,000 (and up), but it promises to handle modern PC games with aplomb. And it's a tiny little box!
We caught up with Xi3 this week for a second look at the Piston game "console" -- a custom version, for the game Loadout -- and its first-party wireless controller. We also got a chance to actually play some games on the little box: the first time anyone outside of the company did as much, we're told. Head past the break for our impressions.