Every seven to eight years, gamers from around the world get to look forward to a new console cycle from Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Over the last year, we’ve been covering the recently released and incredibly popular PlayStation 5. Our team loved the design of Sony’s new console and is also looking forward to the next iteration of their virtual reality system. But our team wasn’t ready for the latest release from Valve’s PC invention design in Washington.
A handheld PC that looks just like the Nintendo Switch.
Valve is most commonly known for its software platform Steam. Through Steam gamers can purchase digital copies of games and build a library on their PCs. They’ve tinkered with some hardware in the past like their defunct Steam Controller and the more successful Valve Index VR system. But we never thought they’d go toe-to-toe with consoles. And we definitely didn’t expect them to introduce a PC invention design that’s portable.
To get it out of the way, this PC invention design is more than just a console. It’s really a handheld computer. Plug in a mouse, keyboard, or even a monitor and you’ll be able to use the Steam Deck like a computer, it’s good for more than just games. It comes with SteamOS, Valve’s custom, Linux-based operating system, but feel free to uninstall that and install Windows instead. At first sight, it’s robust and tech-like. In fact, despite the rounded edges, the style and aesthetic feel much closer to the rigid Xbox S compared to the sleek PlayStation 5.
Obviously, the design itself is fairly close to the Switch. But what draws our interest at MAKO are the unconventional button and control placements. This PC invention design has all the same number of buttons as the Switch as expected: two joysticks, a d-pad, four face buttons, two pairs of should bumpers, and a couple of buttons for pausing, options, etc. The addition of two trackpads is quite interesting though. Our team hasn’t gotten our hands on the Steam Deck yet so we can’t say for sure – but if the previous Steam Controller is any indication, it’s probably going to be a hit or miss.
From a UX perspective, however, the placement of the d-pad, face buttons, and joysticks don’t look particularly comfortable. The joysticks are parallel to the d-pad and the face buttons on each side of the handheld which could make for some awkward thumb movements. Again, we haven’t tried it yet, so we hope Valve proves us wrong with their PC invention design in Washington.
For the full list of specs and even more information, you can head over to the Steam Deck website here. The Steam Deck starts shipping in December at the end of this year.
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!