I’ve had a Steam Link for a while since their launch and it’s a handy little box that works well for me. For $50 you get basically a way to play your PC games on a big TV or projector in another part of the house. It’s a way to use Steam Home Streaming without having a proper computer at the other end. You run the game on your main Powerful PC, and the streaming relays the image/sound stream and the input controls (usually Gamepads) back and forth over your network.
Here’s the intro video that explains it better than I could:
So in my case, I have a gaming PC in an office, but a big ol projector and screen downstairs in a media room. It means I can sit on a couch and play most PC Steam games without two sets of gaming hardware. I run it over ethernet (I doubt it would be ok over wireless unless you have a new/great wireless router) and it’s just like playing locally. 1080p at 60 fps for whenever I’ve looked. With a couple of Xbox 360 controllers and/or a Steam Controller then there’s not much that doesn’t work well on the couch.
You can’t use TrackIR or HOTAS’s but for most gamepad or mouse games (Steam Controller works great as a mouse substitute) it’s great. Full Steam Link info here:
My plan was to write up a full Steam Link Mudspike review, but time and my bad photography skills meant I didn’t get around to it. In the end I just temporarily hooked it up to a TV just to take some photos where I wasn’t in the dark so much. Here you can see how it looks in Steam Big Picture mode (again apologies for bad photos):
…and in the Game library:
Nice and gamepad friendly.
I have been recently hacking around with it recently though, and noticed there is a nice new Steam Link SDK for writing native apps that run locally on the little box. The SDK can be found here:
Even though it is a $50 dumb box, it does run a Linux build on its ARM processor and Valve have opened up what it runs. It’s not exactly a powerful box (it only really needs to be good enough as a ‘client’ to be streamed too) but there is still fun to be had.
I got a MAME emulator example running on it, and ironically it’s been the most popular use of it in the family by far. There is something to be said about an ‘instant on’ device that allows you to get to a quick 2 player game of Bubble Bobble or a quick go of Galaga or Defender. I put about 30 MAME ROMs on it and it’s works really nicely. So this isn’t ‘streaming’, it’s running the games locally on the wee box under the TV:
Here’s what it looks like when it has a ‘native app’ install and turns on:
The main MAME game selector menu:
Yay, games, on the couch:
Oldies but goodies…
With 4 controllers much family fun can be had.
Anyway, I wrote a full guide on how to build/deploy the Mame4All Steam Link app here:
For the money, and if you fancy playing your games further than a HDMI cable will stretch, then I recommend the Steam Link. Great fun.