It was a short-lived journey for the hardware based Steam Link, but I couldn’t pass it up despite it being discontinued. To me, this is a milestone in gaming history and Steam happened to smoothly demonstrate it. What they’ll do with it?–not sure.
Your PC projected (streamed)!
If you’re unsure how this technology works, in short:
- Your PC is setup with Steam (preferably games installed)
- Setup Steam Link, easily configure
Long read: Steam Link, software and hardware versions, takes your desktop or laptop’s processing power to project it to another device. Though some complain of lag time, from reading around most of these issues are resolvable. In my case, no issues yet, except a few mishaps. You shouldn’t close the Link prematurely as it won’t properly disconnect from the PC, causing pesky quirks. I found the audio driver to be a strong issue when disconnecting the Link from the PC instead of the Link itself – always close gracefully via Steam Link and all is well.
The upside to exiting from the PC first is the Steam Link stays connected. Alternatively, you can also tab-out Big Picture.
Pros / cons
Sadly, the Steam Link’s screen resolution may become a bit funky when starting games, as some games are left running the PC’s set resolution (video card). Big Picture for mine is run in 720p video most of my Library’s resolution. What you end up in the end is a TV with massive top or side blank areas with nothing but pitch black, and I could see how this is not desirable. For example, Pool Nation is usually run in 1024×768 (4:9), Steam Link does absolutely nothing to adjust this and will run as is. You can change the settings within the game if necessary.
Unlike the Android Steam Link (which is just an app) the hardware version requires a short 5 minute setup, mostly dependent on your selection of accessories. Keyboard, mouse, controller.
Without the official Steam Link controller the keyboard was required for setup, and afterwards an Xbox One controller was finally recognized.
Any audio playing on the PC will continue through Link, which most of the time is Spotify for me. So if you have a good sound system for your TV, the music is coming with the game stream.
It’s being discontinued
Yep. The Steam Link device, the best of its kind (or only of its kind?) is no more. Software versions fly around, and I couldn’t quite get the Android version synced up with my PC as easy as it looked, nor as easy as this hardware device. Steam hopefully prevails in the “Link” journey despite the hardware component dismissal, otherwise it should be brought back!
Do you have Steam Link hardware, or using Steam Link on a mobile device or TV? Let me know how it is.