Valve's bid for the living room includes more than just standalone Steam Machines. At the Game Developers Conference yesterday, the firm announced Steam Link, a $49.99 device designed to stream games from local PCs.
According to the press release posted by Steam Database, the device supports 1080p streaming at up to 60 frames per second. Valve promises low latency, though the official product page (which has since disappeared) notes that Steam Link is designed for folks with a "fast home network." A wired network connection—or a very fast wireless one—will likely be required to get the best experience.
The final hardware will look something like this. Source: Valve
The press release and product page are surprisingly bereft of details on the actual hardware. However, the product renders show a slim, compact device that appears to be fanless. I count one HDMI output, one Ethernet jack, and three USB ports, one of which isn't pictured in the image above.
The number of USB ports suggests Steam Link is compatible with third-party controllers. Steam Link will also be sold with Valve's own controller for an additional $49.99, but it won't be available for a while. Valve says Steam Link is due in November, just in time for the holidays.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has been pushing in-home streaming since 2013. The functionality has been part of the Steam client for almost that long, and it works reasonably well over my home gigabit network. Streaming games isn't as good as playing them natively, of course, but Steam Link may still be able to deliver a compelling experience given its low asking price. $50-100 is a lot less than the cost of even a low-end gaming PC.