The South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX is quickly becoming a great place to see the latest ideas and newest technology in the gaming space. One of the big draws this weekend was the official unveiling of the Xi3 Piston, the first variation of the extremely hyped-up “Steam Box” technology developed by Valve.
What can be termed as a living-room friendly PC, the Piston is a compact device that allows for a more convenient media experience that seamlessly integrates the computer with the rest of your household media devices. The announcement this weekend brought us limited, but important details on the Piston, with one of the more vital revelations being the price.
The base version (8GB of RAM, 3.2 GHz quad-core processor and a 128 GB internal solid state hard drive) comes in at $999.99, with extra SSD space available to add for $340 (256 GB) and $750 (512GB). So basically, if you want the top-of-the-line version, you will be throwing down nearly two-thousand dollars, making it quite an expensive piece of technology.
The device can be pre-ordered right now, but no matter what, those who are planning on buying will have to wait until ‘Holiday 2013’ to get their hands on the Piston.
In addition to the price, the user interface was also revealed. The PC menu is customizable, with primary options on the UI being TV, Gaming, Communication, Computer, Home Automation, Streaming Games, Streaming TV, Streaming Movies, and Streaming Music.
The customization allows users to choose the colors of options and which programs launch when they’re selected (among many others). As an example, launching “Gaming” will direct you to Steam (naturally), while “Music” will open Spotify.
After taking everything into account, the price points for the device create an expensive proposition to gamers for a new, untested form of media. But considering the technology itself, and the “potential” of said technology, this could be a realistic, albeit high, asking price. Although, it must be noted that many PC gamers (Xfire users in particular) are resourceful enough to develop their own rig at a much lower cost, so the Piston may not appeal to the hardcore demographic who do not mind exerting a bit of energy to create the gaming experience they want.
In the long run, the success of the Piston will not be based on how much it costs, but will rather hinge on the devices’ ability to bridge the gap between the classic PC experience and the preference for an all-inclusive media environment.The options for “home automation” is particularly interesting, and could be one of the first forms of household technology that truly brings everything together.
If the integration is user-friendly, convenient and enjoyable, the “Steam Box” technology could become extremely successful. This will surely be a difficult thing to successfully pull off, but the potential is there. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out.
Are you interested in the Xi3 Piston? Do you think this technology will usher in a new ear in home media and PC gaming?