PC meets PSP: Steamboy Machine project wants to take PC gaming portable


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Valve and the rest of the industry may be focused on dragging PC gaming into the living room, but one group wants to go even beyond that, making portable PC gaming as easy as firing up your Sony PSP. The nostalgically named Steamboy Machine—it's a mash-up of "Gameboy" and "Steam Machine," get it?—recently released a teaser trailer showcasing its plans to release a portable PC gaming handheld.

The entire thing is prerendered, alas, but it offers some glimpses into the Steamboy Project's design; it basically looks like Valve's (now delayed) Steam Controller but stretched out, with a large PlayStation Vita-style screen plopped between the two haptic-enabled trackpads that will reportedly help bring keyboard-and-mouse levels of control to the gamepad.

While the prerendered trailer could be nothing but a dream or hoax from a previously unknown entity, Escapist Magazine contacted Steamboy Machine and wrung out slightly more concrete details. The handheld will feature a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 32GB memory card, and a 5-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, along with Wi-Fi and 3G support.

"SteamBoy won't be as powerful as other announced Steam Machines in the same way [the] Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita performance is not comparable to Wii U or PlayStation 4," a Steamboy representative told Escapist. "However, it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam."

I'd expect that quad-core CPU to be of the AMD variety with Radeon graphics integrated right into the processor given the Steamboy's small size. Depending on the exact choice of processor, that should indeed be enough to let you play recent games at low to medium details setting just fine. Such a tiny sliver of onboard storage is a bit worrying, however, though it'd be alleviated if the handheld allowed you to swap out memory cards. 

But while dragging Wolfenstein: The New Order onto the bus would be great, I'd almost be more excited to use something like the Steamboy in conjunction with Steam's new in-home game streaming technology, which lets you use your main PC's firepower to play games on a secondary computer. Pair that with the Steamboy and suddenly, the idea of playing full-blown PC games with full-blown Ultra-level graphics settings on a handheld while lounging on your couch or deck is suddenly within reach.

Read: Hands-on: Steam's in-home game streaming already feels like magic

Of course, Valve's own Steam Controller and SteamOS operating system need to reach final release status before something like the Steamboy could even think about hitting the streets. With an estimated release date sometime in 2015—just like Valve's Steam Machine components—we'll be waiting a while to see if the Steamboy is real or mere vaporware. But hey: The concept alone already has me excited—if Valve's Steam Controller manages to live up to the hype.

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