8 votes

Should the Steam Deck just be a gaming tablet?

I struck me while using my Steam Deck the other day to watch Twitch that the device has almost everything it needs to provide users with a tablet-like experience alongside being a gaming device. When you're not in desktop mode Steam provides you with a high quality UI optimized for many of the same constraints as a tablet. For "great on deck" games and the store/library UI you get an easily navigable touch screen-supporting experience. If Valve can bring in Android apps for Twitch, YouTube etc. we could get that kind of experience universally.

Desktop mode can peacefully co-exist with a tablet experience as you will switch between the two distinct modes of operation. This seems like a great way to capture a market of users normally turned off by ideas of tablets replacing their normal computers. I haven't used a tablet in years but I would use one that was a full Linux gaming OS at the same time.

17 comments

  1. [12]
    papasquat
    Link
    Yes, but not based on android. One of the most outstanding things about the deck is how open and permissive it is. You automatically have root out of the box, aside from steam, it runs completely...

    Yes, but not based on android. One of the most outstanding things about the deck is how open and permissive it is. You automatically have root out of the box, aside from steam, it runs completely open source software, you have access to a complete and well polished linux desktop environment out of the box. I would far prefer Valve to continue iterating on the deck UI such that they can either seamlessly run android apps, or further flesh out the integration withe the deck's UI and the rest of the OS so that QT apps, Webapps, and Electron apps can be more seamlessly integrated, further reducing the need to go into desktop mode at all for day to day use than for them to invite google and all the nonsense that comes with that onto the platform.

    9 votes
    1. [11]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      I agree; Valve would be smart to keep android away from their hardware and do everything they can to prevent them from being eaten up by Google. I've got the tinyest bit of hope that Valve's work...

      I agree; Valve would be smart to keep android away from their hardware and do everything they can to prevent them from being eaten up by Google.

      I've got the tinyest bit of hope that Valve's work on the Steam Deck might be able to reinvigorate the concept of an open Linux-based mobile OS a la MeeGo, but unless Valve themselves pushes it (which I doubt they will), it probably won't actually happen.

      2 votes
      1. [10]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        In order to go for a mobile OS, they would have to play around with ARM or something that's not x86. Granted, interpretative layers exist, but without as large an effort as Proton, I don't think...

        In order to go for a mobile OS, they would have to play around with ARM or something that's not x86. Granted, interpretative layers exist, but without as large an effort as Proton, I don't think the experience is ready for box retail quite yet.

        1. [9]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          Android runs on x86. I don't think the Steam Deck should run Android as a host OS, but as a guest in a VM? Sure.

          Android runs on x86. I don't think the Steam Deck should run Android as a host OS, but as a guest in a VM? Sure.

          1. [2]
            Diff
            Link Parent
            There's some caveats to it, plenty of apps won't run if the environment doesn't smell quite right (Snapchat and anything with SafetyNet), and plenty don't support x86 (Netflix being the first...

            There's some caveats to it, plenty of apps won't run if the environment doesn't smell quite right (Snapchat and anything with SafetyNet), and plenty don't support x86 (Netflix being the first disappointment I ran into). I'm about to do some traveling and was looking into how difficult it might be to get official apps to run on the Deck so I could download the movies, but it's looking like the much more straightforward solutions are either using my phone and its smaller screen or doing a little recreational sailing.

            1 vote
            1. teaearlgraycold
              Link Parent
              Argh, aye! Ye be havin' no better choice than t' be plunderin' that!

              Argh, aye! Ye be havin' no better choice than t' be plunderin' that!

          2. [6]
            moocow1452
            Link Parent
            Was responding to the idea of Valve working on a mobile based open OS. ARM processing would be pretty much required if they are going toe to toe with Android.

            Was responding to the idea of Valve working on a mobile based open OS. ARM processing would be pretty much required if they are going toe to toe with Android.

            1. [5]
              teaearlgraycold
              Link Parent
              Why is ARM required for that?

              Why is ARM required for that?

              1. [4]
                moocow1452
                Link Parent
                ARM can sip at power and keep cool much better than x86 can at comparable horsepower. Plus there is a whole lot more development in ARM space for power than there is for x86 for mobile, and the...

                ARM can sip at power and keep cool much better than x86 can at comparable horsepower. Plus there is a whole lot more development in ARM space for power than there is for x86 for mobile, and the ARM spec can be more easily licensed than the lock that AMD and Intel have on x86.

                1. [3]
                  teaearlgraycold
                  Link Parent
                  I don't think that's important for the form-factor they're targeting. When was the last time you saw an actively cooled phone or tablet? The Steam Deck weighs 1.5 lbs. "Sipping power" doesn't...

                  I don't think that's important for the form-factor they're targeting. When was the last time you saw an actively cooled phone or tablet? The Steam Deck weighs 1.5 lbs. "Sipping power" doesn't matter as people are happy buying the thing already when it only gets about 2.5 hours of runtime on the full 15W TDP.

                  1 vote
                  1. [2]
                    moocow1452
                    Link Parent
                    I think we're arguing different things here. The Steam Deck is a pretty good Steam Deck, but I talking about @Akir 's hypothetical where Valve made a general use mobile OS, and I argued for that,...

                    I think we're arguing different things here. The Steam Deck is a pretty good Steam Deck, but I talking about @Akir 's hypothetical where Valve made a general use mobile OS, and I argued for that, they would have to look at ARM, because if you would want a more powerful mobile computer that can run PC apps, you might as well use a laptop or a convertible tablet.

                    1. teaearlgraycold
                      Link Parent
                      I'd argue against that. Why are people clamoring to get their hands on Steam Decks when good gaming laptops have existed for years?

                      if you would want a more powerful mobile computer that can run PC apps, you might as well use a laptop or a convertible tablet.

                      I'd argue against that. Why are people clamoring to get their hands on Steam Decks when good gaming laptops have existed for years?

  2. kfwyre
    Link
    Back when I had my Wii U, I used to use the gamepad to watch Netflix in bed or when my husband was using the main TV. It was great! Even if the Deck doesn't go full tablet, simply supporting some...

    Back when I had my Steam Deck Version 0.1a Wii U, I used to use the gamepad to watch Netflix in bed or when my husband was using the main TV. It was great!

    Even if the Deck doesn't go full tablet, simply supporting some streaming platforms would go a long way.

    4 votes
  3. knocklessmonster
    Link
    I definitely advise against making it a general computer, or at least as your primary computer. It's capable of doing that with full access to Flathub, but I still contend it is nothing more than...

    I definitely advise against making it a general computer, or at least as your primary computer. It's capable of doing that with full access to Flathub, but I still contend it is nothing more than a gaming appliance with desktop mode being for convenience rather than "Hey, it's a full desktop computer."

    Frankly it might replace a tablet for what I use it for, except for the fact that it has much lower battery life and is much more bulky.

    3 votes
  4. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    I have an iPad mini that I use mostly for video calls and reading books. Looks like the Steam Deck doesn't have a web cam, so the first one is out, unless you got an external camera. With the...

    I have an iPad mini that I use mostly for video calls and reading books. Looks like the Steam Deck doesn't have a web cam, so the first one is out, unless you got an external camera.

    With the right software, would it be useful for reading?

    1. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I don’t think it would be a replacement for an iPad. I’m assuming many Steam Deck owners are not in the target market for iPads. It’s so well loved because it’s filling a niche that was previously...

      I don’t think it would be a replacement for an iPad. I’m assuming many Steam Deck owners are not in the target market for iPads. It’s so well loved because it’s filling a niche that was previously underserved. A real “gaming tablet” might never need a camera. But it would need a software ecosystem that goes beyond games and a web browser.

      2 votes
  5. moocow1452
    Link
    It has a Browser and Kodi for streaming services, but I would be super jazzed about adding some touch friendly tablet applications to it. People have made tutorials with the web clients though:...

    It has a Browser and Kodi for streaming services, but I would be super jazzed about adding some touch friendly tablet applications to it.

    People have made tutorials with the web clients though: https://youtu.be/RCVy2BzxzN8