Smach Zero, the portable Steam Machine introduced during E3 2014 under the much catchier (and better) name, SteamBoy, has zeroed in on a release time frame and price. The handheld device running SteamOS is set to ship in Q4 2016 for $299 (£299, about AU$409.)
When its creators unveiled what would go onto be the Smach Zero at 2014's E3 press conference, their goal was to fit a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, as well as Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, inside the machine. So, what's actually going to be packed into the final unit?
Smach Zero will be launching with two different models, a basic and pro version, according to Polygon. In each version, you'll find a 5-inch 720p screen, 32GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, an HDMI-out port and an SD card slot to expand upon the built-in storage. Additionally, each handheld machine will run SteamOS natively, feature Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities and offer configurable control schemes in case the handheld grip isn't doing it for you. But, only if you get the pro version of Smach Zero will you get access to 4G signal.
The final unit will also be running on AMD's G-Series "Steppe Eagle" chipset, which is stocked with a Jaguar-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon GPU. Clock speeds and other nitty-gritty details, like the screen type, or battery capacity, haven't been disclosed yet.
It's hard to determine at this point how well those specs will be able to run the latest SteamOS games in 2016, but you shouldn't have a problem finding some to play come launch. The company claims that the device will have access to up to 1,000 of them.
Smach Zero's approach to bringing a super budget-friendly SteamOS machine to market is is unique, but I do worry about how it will performance. The Nvidia Shield tablet sidesteps those concerns by spreading out the stress to both your internet connection and standalone rig. Of course, Nvidia's option is going to cost you much, much more than the Smach Zero and it doesn't currently support SteamOS. The Smach Zero could be a no-brainer purchase for those interested in PC gaming on-the-go, but it might need a few more tricks up its sleeves to compete in 2016.
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Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.