The Steam Deck looks like a very exciting gaming portable, with inevitable comparisons being made to the Nintendo Switch. However, I believe that thinking of the Steam Deck as solely a handheld gaming system is doing it a disservice.
According to Valve (via IGN), the Steam Deck is capable of running Windows applications on the Linux-based operating system. Furthermore, you could even wipe SteamOS off the handheld, and install a fresh version of Windows 10 or Windows 11 if you so desired.
This element of the Steam Deck has got me really excited. Yes, being able to play PC games on your travels is undoubtedly the main attraction, but I’m also very intrigued about how it functions as an on-the-go computer.
Given the lack of a physical keyboard, you’re hardly going to be able to type up an essay on the Steam Deck, but you could use it to stream the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and YouTube whenever you want to take a break from gaming. And since you’ll be able to use a web browser too, you’ll even be able to use the built-in touchscreen to scroll through Instagram, look for game guides or even make last minute tweaks to your fantasy football team.
I know what you’re going to say: “Why use the Steam Deck as a PC when you can just use your laptop or tablet instead?” But that’s the beauty of the Steam Deck: it’s an all-in-one device that can do it all on your travels, so you’ll never need to stuff your bag with a laptop again.
This is particularly true once you equip it with Valve’s dock. This sold-separately accessory will allow you to easily hook the Steam Deck up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, turning it into your own makeshift desktop PC setup. I really like the idea of porting my Steam Deck between home and office, using one device to fulfill both gaming and work duties.
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And let’s not forget, the Steam Deck is packing some pretty impressive specs. We won’t be able to know how powerful it is until we get a review sample, but I’m confident it’s going to be just as powerful as your everyday laptop, with a little bit of extra GPU firepower in case you want to dabble with the likes of video editing.
With all of this versatility in mind, the Steam Deck’s price point – including the high-end £569 model – makes it an absolute bargain. You’ll struggle to find many decent new laptops at that price, especially with this kind of GPU power.
Of course, there’s still a lot of unknown variables here. Windows isn’t really optimised for a 7-inch device so we don’t know how smoothly it’s going to run on the Steam Deck. But with Microsoft emphasising that it’s ensured Windows 11 is optimised for tablets such as the Surface Pro X, I reckon we may well be pleasantly surprised to see how well it runs on the Steam Deck.
So yes, the Steam Deck’s most exciting feature is undoubtedly its ability to play PC games on the go, but you’ll be getting even more value for money by treating it like your own little portable PC. After all, you probably wouldn’t use a gaming laptop just for gaming, so why should you do so with the Steam Deck?
Not everybody agrees with me though. My colleague Gemma Ryles has argued the contrary with the claim that ‘The Steam Deck can’t replace a real PC‘. Have a read through, and then let us know on Twitter which point of view you’re backing.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.