Steam Box prototypes out in '3 to 4 months'

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CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

Gabe Newell has revealed that the Steam Box is just around the corner and hinted that Valve may be working on biometric controllers.

PC power, but in a traditional console setting.
(Credit: Steam)

Valve head Gabe Newell in currently in London where he has been honoured with the Academy Fellowship by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Ahead of the award ceremony, he spoke with the BBC, revealing a few choice titbits of information regarding the Steam Box, the key of which was that company would be "giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months".

The Steam Box has been a long-term project of Valve's, aiming to provide a small form factor PC that can take on consoles in the lounge room space. Paired with the Big Picture version of Steam, the Steam Box would take a traditional PC experience and make it couch- and TV-friendly.

Recently, Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward tweeted images of what seemed to be a self-branded Steam Box prototype, based on the Xi3 modular PC design.

Newell said that there were still obstacles to overcome on the hardware, noting that noise and heat were big issues when trying to get enough power into a physically small system. The controller, too, had proved tricky, with Valve exploring some unusual options to enhance gamer immersion. According to Newell:

If you think of a game like Left For Dead — which was trying to put you into a sort of horror movie — if you don't change the experience of what the player is actually feeling, then it stops being a horror game. So you need to actually be able to directly measure how aroused the player is — what their heart rate is, things like that — in order to offer them a new experience each time they play.

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