Valve Unveils Beta For Long-Awaited Steam Machines

Earlier this week when we covered Valve’s huge SteamOS announcement, it seemed that the company was being coy by calling the hardware “Steam machines”, but as it turns out, that’s exactly what Valve is calling any hardware that will run SteamOS.

There will be multiple Steam Machines available starting in 2014 from a variety of manufacturers, but Valve is first producing its own prototype.

Hungry for details on exactly what Valve’s homegrown Steam Machine will look like? Or maybe just some basic hardware specs? Us, too. Unfortunately, there is basically zero information on that front. All Valve is saying at this point is that it has a prototype that is completely upgradeable and open, and it’s optimized for the living room.

Steam Machines running SteamOS

If you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to get in line; Valve is shipping out a measly 300 units to beta testers ahead of the official launch next year. You can register for the beta here, and if you jump through all the right hoops, you might be one a precious few lucky devils chosen at random that will get to take a Steam Machine and SteamOS for a spin before everyone else.

As to what other manufacturers' Steam Machines might look like, Valve simply says, “Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.” And there will likely be a wide variety of price points, specs and features, and performance levels. Users will also be able to build their own boxes and hack them to run other OSes and software.

Finally, the Steam Machines can be used with a mouse and keyboard, but they’ll also be optimized to work with gamepads, too. And for more on that, we’ll have to wait until Friday.