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Dell Joins Steam Machine Initiative With Alienware System 110

Posted by timothy
from the name-recognition dept.
MojoKid writes "Plenty of OEMs have lifted the veil on their planned Steam Machine products, but Dell really seems to want to break free of the pack with their Alienware-designed, small form factor machine that they unveiled at CES this week. It's surprisingly tiny, sleek and significantly smaller than the average game console, weighing only about 4 — 6 pounds fully configured. Dell had a prototype of the machine on hand that is mechanically exact, complete with IO ports and lighting accents. Dell also had a SteamOS-driven system running, though it was actually a modified Alienware system powering the action with Valve's innovative Steam Controller. In first-person shooters like Metro: Last Night that Dell was demonstrating, the left circular pad can be setup for panning and aiming in traditional AWSD fashion, while the right pad can be used for forward and back movement with triggers set up for firing and aiming down sights. You can, however, customize control bindings to your liking and share profiles and bindings with friends on the Steam network. What's notable about Dell's unveiling is that the Steam Machines initiative gained critical mass with a major OEM like Dell behind the product offering, in addition to the handful of boutique PC builders that have announced products thus far."
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Dell Joins Steam Machine Initiative With Alienware System

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dell is actually going to offer an OS that isn't from Microsoft? Yes, yes, they've offered Ubuntu and RHEL I believe, but those are hard to get from Dell and the computers are sometimes more expensive than the Windows alternatives.

    This is a noteworthy break in "tradition". Let's hope that this is the first step towards more OS opportunities from major hardware vendors.

    I wonder if MS had to bless the SteamOS cert for 'secure boot' to work?

    • Not to mention that Dell when they offer Linux with their server. Sometimes had a tendency to put it on hardware that Linux doesn't fully support.

      • by Nomaxxx (1136289)
        Dell recommends Windows.
        • on what, servers?

          most dell servers I see run some form of linux, as they are one of the premier linux server distributors

          source: I do this for a living kid.
          • by Nomaxxx (1136289)
            This intended to be funny. Despite offering Linux server and laptops running Ubuntu, Dell writes "Dell recommends Windows" everywhere; on their website, in press and TV ads, mails. Currently, I'm a postman (I worked in IT before, I got my LPIC-1) and every letter I distribute from Dell has this writing on the envelope. It was revealed that Microsoft is offering vouchers to companies recommending Microsoft products. This led to some funny moments such as a web page where Dells says "Ubuntu is safer" just be
      • Re:Um, What? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday January 11, 2014 @01:16PM (#45927049) Journal

        Uhhh...did everybody forget those ubuntu netbooks and laptops already? Wow, short memories here. I can't say as i blame ya though as Dell has hell with Canonical, with them even having to keep their own fork because default ubuntu kept crapping on the drivers.

        That said while I was all jazzed up about Steamboxes, now? Its a big meh. i mean the STARTING price is the same as the Xbone, and that is for the LOW END bottom o' the line system? Really? When you can get the octocore PS4 for $100 cheaper? I have a feeling this will go over like a lead balloon, the PC gamers already have Win 7 and DIY, the console gamers aren't gonna pay $100 more than a PS4 for an i3 unit that frankly if it weren't for the stylish case would go for $350 at Worst Buy, and the icing on the fail cake is just how little of the Steam catalog actually runs on the thing. I mean who is gonna want to pay $500 for a machine that gives you a worse catalog than just buying a $299 i3 Worst Buy special and adding an $80 HD7750?

        • I think it was the Wikipedia article that pointed it out. You can't make a hardware standard like you can for DVD players and CD players because the tech in game consoles is too pricey. You need to loss lead or you can't compete.

          Now, if they games were $30 instead of $60 they might have a value proposition. But most big budget titles (Call of Duty, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed, etc) launch at $60.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Oh bull, if little old me could build a decent gaming system for less than that then surely these corps with the economies of scale could do better, but I have a feling their heard the word "game console" and just like "gaming PC" is a codeword for "We'll fuck you hard and raw on price" so too are they trying to make mad money on these units which is royally fucking valve's chances of competing. Now watch how easy it is..

            We'll do this the fast and easy way, note that I could probably shave a good $60+ by pi

            • by cHiphead (17854)

              I'm on an AMD 8320 8-core clocked at 3.7ghz and to get a decent gaming experience with modern games, I had to go with a Nvidia 770. AMD 7750 just doesn't cut it for acceptable gaming performance, it's a complete crutch.

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Let me guess...Windows 8? all that tweeting twits for shits cripples the hell out of that OS. I'm on Win 7 and am playing all the big name titles just fine. I'm not playing Battlefield 4 at 4K but then again I have no desire to be surrounded by 20 somethings bragging about their ePeens so if all you care about if BF4? Then yeah you need an ePeen.

                But I'm playing Bioshock Infinite, Max Payne 3, Deus Ex HR, the latest COD, they all play on high above 45 FPS which is all I care about. If I wanted an ePeen a s

        • This just in: Alienware machines are overpriced.

          Details at 11

        • by m00sh (2538182)

          That said while I was all jazzed up about Steamboxes, now? Its a big meh. i mean the STARTING price is the same as the Xbone, and that is for the LOW END bottom o' the line system? Really? When you can get the octocore PS4 for $100 cheaper? I have a feeling this will go over like a lead balloon, the PC gamers already have Win 7 and DIY, the console gamers aren't gonna pay $100 more than a PS4 for an i3 unit that frankly if it weren't for the stylish case would go for $350 at Worst Buy, and the icing on the fail cake is just how little of the Steam catalog actually runs on the thing. I mean who is gonna want to pay $500 for a machine that gives you a worse catalog than just buying a $299 i3 Worst Buy special and adding an $80 HD7750?

          PS4 price is the fixed price and they will not have sales on it until 4-5 years down the road.

          With Dell products they have sales, coupons, outlets, clearances, price drops and what nots. With Dell products, you have to look at 60% of the price as the price Dell will be happy selling them at.

        • The hardware makers have to make money on it.

          Traditional game consoles are subsidized. When they launch they are sold for a very thin profit at most, and generally are sold for a loss (sometimes a fair sized one). The money is then made up on games (each game sold pays a license fee to the console maker).

          That's not the case with Steam boxes. Valve isn't subsidizing it, they aren't even participating the the building. They are having others do it. Well Dell doesn't mind, they are open to sell PC hardware any

          • by Zencyde (850968)
            So you mean I don't get to buy a subsidized console when I get to buy all my games on sale? :(

            Oh wait, that's awesome. It an alternative to the razor cartridge/printer cartridge strategy. Spend a little more upfront, and spend less down the road. I love it!
            • You might, but then again you might on consoles too. Games cost full retail on Steam. Assassin's Creed 4 is $60, same as for the PS4 and the Xboner. It is, in fact cheaper for the PS3 and 360, only $50. Now, it was on sale for a day on Steam's winter sale for $45 (still more expensive than the Wii U version now) but only for that short sale. If you want it now, $60 it is.

              What about older titles? Say, Crysis 2. Only $30 in the Steam Store now. From Amazon? $20 for the PS3/360.

              Yes Steam has sales, but they ar

        • no, your getting an alienware PC, a top end PC brand.

          so your going to get the ease of a console, with the performance of a PC.

          >octocore PS4

          any performance benchmark figures to match up with marketing terms.

          every intel PC has twice as many cores as stated, because of hyperthreading(AMD simply counts them as seperate cores)
          • by Mdk754 (3014249)
            Pretty sure AMD doesn't hyperthread and just call them extra cores. They are legitimately extra cores. An 8 core AMD chip has 8 cores.
        • by mjwx (966435)

          Uhhh...did everybody forget those ubuntu netbooks and laptops already? Wow, short memories here. I can't say as i blame ya though as Dell has hell with Canonical, with them even having to keep their own fork because default ubuntu kept crapping on the drivers.

          That said while I was all jazzed up about Steamboxes, now? Its a big meh. i mean the STARTING price is the same as the Xbone, and that is for the LOW END bottom o' the line system? Really? When you can get the octocore PS4 for $100 cheaper? I have a feeling this will go over like a lead balloon, the PC gamers already have Win 7 and DIY, the console gamers aren't gonna pay $100 more than a PS4 for an i3 unit that frankly if it weren't for the stylish case would go for $350 at Worst Buy, and the icing on the fail cake is just how little of the Steam catalog actually runs on the thing. I mean who is gonna want to pay $500 for a machine that gives you a worse catalog than just buying a $299 i3 Worst Buy special and adding an $80 HD7750?

          Hmmm, the congitive dissonance has kicked in early.

          The latest generation of consoles has been lack lustre at best. I'm still betting on a mobile phone OS based console taking out the low end, but I'll now bet the high end will be slaughtered by the steamboxes.

          For people on a budget, a $200 console will be more appealing than a $400 PS4, for people who want to play games the variety and massive back catalogue on Steam would be the clincher. Lets not forget that PC games are cheaper then Console games (

        • by 3vi1 (544505)

          > i mean the STARTING price is the same as the Xbone, and that is for the LOW END bottom o' the line system? Really?

          It's not reasonable to expect a non-subsidized, upgradeable (in the case of many of the models), open console to cost less than subsidized, locked-down hardware with a consolidated-to-be-cheap design.

          The Steam Machines are only a bad deal if you are the kind of person that only buys few AAA games and don't want to take advantage the openness to do things like run services (ex. put a minecr

    • Dell serves allright -- question is: whom...
      https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/01/nsa_exploit_of.html [schneier.com]

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:34AM (#45925617)

    Can we stop putting unnecessary lights on everything, it's gotten tiresome.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:00AM (#45925695) Homepage

      LED's are the new clock-on-everything. You know it's true.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nschubach (922175) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @09:23AM (#45925977) Journal

        Funnily, when I got rid of my cable box, I realized that I lost my only way to quickly tell time in my living room. I took my old Android phone and cradled it on my stack to have a clock that's easily readable. Sure, I could get a clock for the wall or whatever, but that seems like more of a pain.

        • by Ksevio (865461)
          I had the same problem - turns out clocks are handy. Of course there's still the one on the thermometer, the thermostat, the stove, the microwave, and everything electronic in my pocket - but what am I suppose to do? Turn my head around? Not when I have an electronic picture frame I can stick in my living room with a clock!
      • by koan (80826)

        I guess, it strikes more as "The punters like shiny things".

    • It's like with Bluetooth... everything is better with Bluetooth, only LED's are flashier.
  • Prolly because Dell - estimate is all mine, YMMV - gets > 98% of its revenue stream from selling grey / black boxes to enterprises with deep pockets, NOT from peddling Alienware stuff.

    True, I had an Alienware laptop once, and it was awesome. But still. I never met someone else with an Alienware box. And these are simply *too e x p e n s i v e * for being considered for anything resembling daily prodution use. So this is, quite probably, just muscle-flexing. The future will quite quickly tell us what this is really worth.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      Alienware used to be quite the boutique vendor. Remember when their ads were the back cover of nearly every Maximum PC? The area 51 was about the single most powerful laptopyou could get, if you didnt mind 30 minute battery life and a huge price tag. Then Dell bought them and they, to my mind and at least, have largely ceased to have much relevance.
      However, Dell does have the money due to its humongous other operations to push this market a little nwith the steam box and see where it goes. I have a fee
      • My employer did buy a top-of-the-range Alienware desktop once because it was the fastest available machine for single threaded performance (at least, out of off-the-shelf options) due to its being factory overclocked. I imagine if we'd gone for a more boutique vendor we might have got faster but I suppose it was still good to have the support.

        FWIW we weren't just playing games, we actually had long running single threaded simulations that we wanted to get out of the way as fast as possible! It's now my de

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the left circular pad can be setup for panning and aiming in traditional AWSD fashion

    I'll probably get (rightfully) down-modded for this being off-topic, but it doesn't usually get mentioned at all - WASD is just assumed to be the standard - so I'm using its mention as an excuse to ask: why did WASD "win"? Games used to default to ESDF, and for a while some had a choice of default configurations for ESDF and WASD. I've wondered why this shift happened.

    While it's mostly an arbitrary choice either way, ESDF makes more sense to me because you keep your hands on the home row, so it doesn't i

    • by Raumkraut (518382)

      I don't know why WASD "won" (people say "AWSD"? Really?), but I've never played a game which had ESDF as the default. I've never even *heard* of a game which had a pre-configured option to use those keys. Not that I disagree with the advantages, however.

      But back in my day, ZX*? was the standard.

      • ESDF was standard in Tribes and tribes 2, iirc.

      • by ledow (319597)

        I remember the days of QAOP-Space.

        But I've never seen nor played a game with ESDF default (and especially not Quake 2 as another poster suggests.

        WASD just makes more sense in terms of hands - it's extreme left to be in the most shoulder-comfortable position when your other hand is on a right-handed mouse, but without hitting stupid / odd keys like Caps Lock etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        With WASD my pinky rests on ctrl which I use for crouch, and then I use left shift to run. With EDSL my pinky rests on the windows key which can cause all sorts of issues. Its bad enough that the console key ` on BF4/BF3 is right next to 1 which means that sometimes when I switch to my main weapon I accidentally press ` and find myself unable to move, and very quickly dead.
          Oh and going back to the old old days I and most others I knew used QAOP Space on the Spectrum 48/128k.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        I don't know why WASD "won"

        My sense is that it was momentum from the earliest PC days when you had 2 player multiplayer off a single PC.

        Player 1 used the arrow keys/number pad. Player 2 used WASD.

        WASD was the closest thing to the inverted-T on the furthest left. (Because with 2 players on one keyboard things were cramped.

        ESDF fails both criteria... its not as close to the inverted T shape, and its not as far left. WASD was the natural choice.

        Then as things went on, most games had default single player keym

      • by Rowan_u (859287)
        I have always used SADX not WASD. The real reason for WASD is that it mimics the placement of the arrow keys; however, SADX is much more ergonomic as your middle finger isn't constanty overstretched :)
    • by znanue (2782675)
      Uhh, I used QWES because I was a tank in WoW. I imagine many other tanks in WoW learned the same style. WoW had Q and E be the strafing keys and A and D were nonsense keys for turning. You were a BAD tank if you turned... Of course many bad tanks are going to respond to this justifying the ability to turn with the keyboard, but there was never ever a reason to do anything but strafe. To me, this de-emphasizes back peddling and makes it more likely that you want to move forward, a trait I've found positi
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        None as far as I know. Most people (not just tanks) that weren't utterly clueless knew how to rebind keys, and vast majority of people I know used A and D for strafing, just like in FPS games.

        Default button assignments in WoW were almost as bad as default interface in WoW was.

        (Formerly DPS/Offtank in WoW)

    • by JanneM (7445)

      As other people point out, wasd and esdf are the exact same layout, but wasd are right next to the tab, caps and shift keys which are often used as well. And without any extra keys in between it's easier to hit them accurately. Also, as pointed out, in two-player games it'd give you more room for two players to use the same keyboard.

      Me, I always preferred mapping my Wico joystick to whatever buttons I needed in any game. Never had any input device work as well as one of those, and I used one of their trackb

    • by BergZ (1680594)
      I used to use "TFGH" so that (like "ESDF") there were extra buttons in each direction, but also so that I could reach more of the # keys easily (to switch between weapons). Once I got a mouse with a scroll wheel I no longer needed to reach the # keys quickly and converted to "WASD" because it was the default.
      • The problem with TFGH is that "ergonomic" keyboards with a big gap between TGB and YHN were popular when the first-person shooter genre conventions were becoming standardized. I had to switch to RDFG.
    • WSAD was chosen because it was easier to reach the 1 key, which is important when games started picking 1 as 'switch to primary' or 'switch to secondary' weapon.

      I distinctly remember playing Tribes/Tribes 2 and having to reach over to hit 1 and it being a bit risky with either tilde/Q being in close proximity and the key being too far over for me to have an intuition about where it was. I forget what it did though, I thought it was mapped to kit for kit swap rather than to a weapon.
  • Please say yes ! It can't be worse than the copy-paste support robots at Steam.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Please say yes ! It can't be worse than the copy-paste support robots at Steam.

      Dell Support: So, if I am to understand you, you have steam coming from your OS?
      Customer: No, no, no! Just no!
      Dell Support: OK. No steam. That is good. What version of Windows are you running? Dell recommends Windows 8.1, now with Start Button!
      Customer: I don't have Windows! I have SteamOS!
      Dell Support: Have you tried rebooting it? When you reboot it you will see a Windows logo ...

  • by Turmio (29215) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @09:21AM (#45925967) Homepage
    I guess that in order to please the shareholders and ultimately survive in the business it's absolutely essential for the traditional PC vendors such as Dell to be innovative and seek and try out any possible new revenue streams, markets, and business models due to the terrible shape of the industry [slashdot.org]... Five years ago the idea of starting to build and offer Linux based gaming boxes probably would've raisen rather unintentionally hilarious sentiments among the senior product management people of a PC vendor if someone would've dared to suggest something like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a paid story. Everyone knows that and Dell was the only company which did *not* reveal its hardware specs. This is ridiculous. Please talk about the other 13 Steam boxes.

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