Steam Deck 2: Why it might be worth the wait
Valve has confirmed that it will release new Steam decks. We’ve listed what we’d like to see in new devices.
Steam Deck: Good console, but improvements are possible
Valve is behind on shipping orders from last year, but has confirmed that new Steam decks are coming. Here is our wish list for a possible Steam Deck 2.
Valve describes the portable gaming PC as a “multi-generational product line” with “hardware and software improvements and iterations”. There are many ways imaginable that Valve could improve the hardware in future releases.
Based on his experience with the Steam Deck so far, our colleague would like the next generation of Steam Deck hardware to be:
A next-gen Steam Deck should be faster, more battery efficient, and maybe a little smaller and lighter.
That might be no small feat given what Valve has achieved with its existing hardware – after all, this is a portable gaming PC that runs Elden Ring flawlessly – but consider that the deck’s bespoke AMD APU Based on 2020 Zen 2 architecture.
A jump to Zen 3+ (or even Zen 4) seems doable and would improve both performance and battery life on future Steam decks.
Better thumbstick ergonomics
When holding the Steam Deck, my thumbs always want to be slightly outside of the area where the actual thumbsticks are, so closer to my hands. Although the comfort level of a game controller can vary from person to person, those who are used to an Xbox controller will probably feel the same way.
Valve’s challenge will be to improve thumbstick positioning without eliminating trackpads, which can be useful for mouse-controlled games and desktop mode.
The display of the current Steam deck is the only thing that really looks like “first generation product”. While it’s bright enough and the 1280×800 pixel resolution looks suitably sharp on a 7-inch display, the screen is marred by some flare around the edges and the contrast could be better.
A higher quality LED screen – or even better, an OLED option – should be high on Valve’s priority list for future Steam decks. And Valve should add a scratch-resistant coating to all models, not just the most expensive model.
Easier battery repair
Valve has done an admirable job of supporting Steam deck repairs and has partnered with iFixit to offer replacement parts and do-it-yourself repair guides.
Steam Deck: The battery should be easier to change in future models
© Jared Newman / Foundry
So it’s disappointing that the Steam Deck’s battery – arguably the most important thing you’ll want to replace in the future – is difficult to remove due to the amount of adhesive holding it in place. The Steam Deck 2 should allow battery replacement without a heat gun.
More color options
The Steam Deck subreddit has some nice examples of people customizing their handhelds with post-applied skins – but also some complaints about the inconvenience of applying those skins.
Valve can be forgiven for only using boring black plastic on the first version of the Steam deck. For future models, Valve should offer more color options that add character to the Steam deck without the need for decals.
An additional micro SD slot
That’s probably a bit of a stretch, but a second micro SD card slot would be very handy for people who want to boot a second operating system like Windows on the Steam Deck. That way, they could use a card slot for their additional operating system and still have a slot left over for additional gaming storage.
And even if you don’t dual boot, it would be an easy way to expand your game collection over time.
Steam Deck: Future models should have a second micro SD slot
© Jared Newman / Foundry
A Switch-like form factor
Although Valve is working on a docking station for the Steam Deck – and you can already buy third-party docks on Amazon – the company should just copy the Nintendo Switch with detachable gamepads.
The great thing about the Switch’s Joy-Cons is that they enable local multiplayer effortlessly and you don’t have to buy additional controllers. With the massive collection of couch co-op games on Steam, a Switch-like Steam Deck could instantly become the best party console out there.
An uncomplicated game console
Perhaps the next Steam Deck shouldn’t be a Steam Deck at all, but rather a dedicated Steam OS-based home gaming system that can run the latest PC games without the limitations of portable hardware.
Yes, Valve tried to enter the home console market once before with Steam Machines and it was a colossal failure, but things have changed since then. Valve’s Proton compatibility layer has vastly increased the number of games that can run on Steam OS, and the company now has more hardware know-how it can use to develop its own console, rather than doing that task at mostly little interested PC manufacturers.
At its core, the appeal of the Steam Deck is that you can expand your entire PC game collection to more locations. Now that Valve has developed a portable console, bringing the presence of Steam OS into living rooms would be a natural next step.
This post first appeared on our American colleagues on pcworld.com
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