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General Comments -- Valve Steam Deck (Read 45 times)
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General Comments -- Valve Steam Deck
Sep 1st, 2023, 4:43pm
This Thread is for general comments of the Valve Steam Deck Linux Gaming System.  Consider this to be sort of a Linuxslate.com Mini Review.
NOTE:  Many Reviews/Posts of the Steam Deck are now over a year old, and thus out of date.  I got my Steam Deck in Mid-2023.  Please check the dates of reviews and posts on other sites.
After a couple of weeks with the Steam Deck, I have to say that this is the coolest, most functional Linux Device I have ever owned.  This device is what every other "debut" Linux device ever wanted to be - and Linuxslate.com has seen lots of them starting all the way back with the Agenda PDA.  I've owned the Sharp Zarus, the GP2X, the Pepper Pad, a Wibrain, and the iReadyGo Much G2 (Android).
Valve and the Steam Deck have done more for Linux gaming than anything else or any other company.  But mine spends little time in the default Steam environment. The Steam Gaming environment, IMHO is essentially a distraction to what this device really is.  
Playing Steam Games on the Go
Obviously, this is the "default" potential customer.  Someone who is really into Steam games, and wants to take them with them.  Steam's offerings, combined with the Steam Deck Hardware simply blow away anything else -- including the very popular Nintendo Switch and the Sony PSP.
For the money, and for other reasons I will detail below, the Steam Deck is also a much better purchase than contemporary devices like the Asus ROG Ally.
A Powerful Handheld PC
Let's put gaming aside for a minute.  What if you just want a powerful PC you can take with you?
In this case -- Yes, there are (obviously) alternatives -- You could just buy a laptop with the specifications you need -- Or could you?  Well, of course you can for well over US$1000.  But try getting it for the price of the Steam Deck, and you are going to come away with a rather disappointing budget laptop at very best.
Then you will have to add-on an anti-virus subscription, Office 365 subscription, etc.  I got my Steam Deck for $429.99.  I don't need an anti-virus subscription -- and I can install full LibreOffice for a few clicks.  The GIMP (Open Source equivalent to PhotoShop) is also available as a easily installed package, and the Steam Deck has the power to actually make the GIMP useable.  How's that budget PC comparing?
Yes, in the Accessories thread, I recommend buying a few things to make the Steam Deck a usable portable PC, but you are still going to have lots of cash left over as compared to a Windows PC of similar capability.
I should point out that using the Steam Deck as a full PC implies the use of and external monitor; however, an external monitor is a very common accessory for Laptops also, so IMHO, it's not fair to count the cost of a desktop monitor against the Steam Deck.  The Steam Deck would also make an excellent 2nd screen (with touch) for your GIMP toolbox etc, and take up far less room than an open or closed laptop -- Not to mention 2 trackpads, and 2 joysticks.  How would you use them in the GIMP, or Blender?  How much would it cost to add that to a PC?
OK, so the Steam Deck has lots of Hardware we see on the outside -- Like joysticks and track pads, and it's Custom AMD Ryzen hardware on the inside, but does it all really work?  Is the SteamOS based on Arch Linux really usable?
The Steam Deck is the most functional implementation of Linux I have ever seen -- Everything I try to connect to the Steam Deck, and every app I try to install "Just works".
High Definition Digital Audio is supported over an HDMI connection.  Casting the screen works simply by installing Google Chrome.  Off-the shelf hubs work, and then anything connected to that hub seems to be supported -- No "Drivers", and No Linux command line needed.  I connected a USB-C to USB-C cable and turned on USB Tethering in Setting on my phone, and I was connected to the internet without touching anything on the Steam Deck.  Connecting to the Internet via Ethernet -- by way of a 3 port USB-3 hub that includes an Ethernet port -- was also 100% plug and play -- No configuration on the Steam Deck was needed.
Yes, I really like my New Ultimate Toy -- The Steam Deck.  However, there are some glaring omissions.  The best (worst) example of this is that you can get locked out of the desktop.  If Steam is not running, the Steam Keyboard is not available, but of course if you don't have a keyboard, you can't enter your ID/Password to start Steam -- A really bad Catch-22.  Another, even more functional virtual keyboard needs to be installed and be accessible system-wide at any time.
Another oversight that I have not been able to find a substitute for is a capable voice recognition system -- To not have one in this Day and Age is unacceptable.
If nothing else - The Steam Deck should be a huge wake-up call for designers, manufactures and IT professionals --  Basing the Steam Deck on Linux is very clearly the right choice.  With the possible exception of the availability of Cortana, Windows would be a huge step backwards.
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