When Valve announced a new range of hardware – a range of steam machines designed to fit in a living room as opposed to a study – much debate began over whether the company could really get off to a good start. Questions were asked, but the hardware definitely looked impressive. One of that range, the Steam Link, was of particular interest to me.

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Costing about 1/10th of the price for an Alienware machine (for example), this little black box would sit discreetly in your living room, and allow you to stream directly from any PC on the network with a Steam Client enabled. Now, my own PC isn’t a bad one – not outstanding by any means, but certainly not bad – but one thing it has always seemed to struggle with is any kind of in-house streaming. Trying to stream videos to my X-Box 360 was very hit and miss, and let’s not even get started on trying to wirelessly mirror my screen to one of the WiFi enabled TVs in the house. Suffice to say, my hopes were not high, but I thought at £39.99 it was worth a punt – especially considering I knew my Dad was providing me with one of these little boxes on Christmas Day.

The day came and went, but finally – just as the little one was settling down to sleep, and my wife was having a play with some of her presents, I got the chance to plug it all in and give it a whirl. My initial experience wasn’t great – the thing kept jamming, struggling to do anything. One thing I would say was that the setup was one of the simplest and most straightforward I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing, but otherwise my earlier concerns appeared to be well founded, and I quickly abandoned the idea of playing my Steam games in the living room and made my way to the PC.

Now, what some of you may have probably already realised (but it took me a worrying length of time to have this particular epiphany) was that this was Christmas Day, and the box had only been released a matter of weeks previously – the servers were probably having a bit of a hard time. So, no hard feelings, I figured – I’ll have another go some day soon.

Leaving it for a couple of days, I finally got a couple of hours spare after work and thought I’d have another shot. What I was met with could only really be summed up in two words: get in!

The box launched smoothly, and easily connected to my PC. It was around this point I also discovered that I could stream my PC desktop to the TV fairly easily too, though playing any videos using this method was very iffy. Venturing back into the Big Picture, I launched a game I hoped would work well with the controller that Santa had also provided me. And hey presto – it worked.

Now, the resolution was a bit jumpy to say the least – my screen would jump from a pixelated mess to a pretty crystal image, and back again – but them’s the breaks when you are talking about wireless I suppose.

The controller responsiveness was impressive – perhaps the tiniest of lags, but certainly not enough to affect any enjoyment of the game. Having enjoyed a short session on that one, I figured I’d move on to one of the games I purchased recently which was a point-and-click adventure. I had purchased a wireless mouse and keyboard using my bonus from work in anticipation of getting the Steam Link, and found I was quickly reaching for them upon discovering the trackpad on my controller was incredibly unresponsive. However, much like earlier, I eventually decided to give it another go.

Image courtesy of destructoid.com

Controller Config Screen – Image courtesy of destructoid.com

God only knows what went wrong the first time, or perhaps I just needed time to get used to it, but by jove it also worked well, though it does take a bit of getting used to having to hit the right shoulder button as a left click. Once that little hurdle was out of the way, I was soon enjoying the game in a fantastically crystal clear vision on my tellybox screen.

I am not the most technically minded individual, so I won’t go into one of those sections talking about FPS and response rates in too much detail, as I will frankly probably get the numbers wrong and end up offending someone in binary or something. One thing I will say, however, is that when my network was clear enough to stream my games comfortably, the picture was arguably even better than on my PC screen, despite the occasional and possibly inevitable syncing issues.
All in all then, it’s not perfect by any stretch, but for the money you pay for it compared to many other boxes designed for similar tasks, it’s one of the best investments any keen PC gamer can make – I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who dreams of playing their PC games with their feet up on the couch. Even if the steam controller isn’t for you, there are alternatives – wireless keyboard and mouse sets work straight out of the box, and apparently there is even support for X-Box controllers too, though I haven’t tried that out yet.

A word to the wise though – ordering this hardware direct from Steam will mean you can be hit with some heavy shipping and handling costs depending on where you live – to the UK I think I paid about £7.40 per item – but they are available in some retail stores, usually bundled with a Steam Wallet topup for a smidgen more on the price front – perhaps better paying that than the shipping costs though!

Update on things

Posted: December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hi everyone

As I’m sure you guessed, my last post about plans for this place kind of fell through – a change in work etc put paid to what I had laid down for this place, but now I’m taking it in a new direction – well, kind of.

The majority will still be football, and I will work tirelessly to update my resume page with the work I’ve had published recently.

However, the main focus will remain football – and specifically match reviews.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while – but rather than a review from a journalistic perspective, this will be more like my thoughts as a fan.

Not 100% sure when the reviews will start as I’m still pretty busy elsewhere too, but I will keep you guys posted.

Thanks again for your continued support

James

I’m Back

Posted: March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hi folks

I’m really sorry for the absolute silence on here for the last 18 months or so, it’s been a very busy time both personally and professionally!

I just wanted to write to everyone with a quick update on what’s going on, because I’m now going to be coming back and writing some brand new stuff for this site.

Since I wrote my last piece advertising a new gaming site I had in the pipeline, much has happened. I started and finished a job working on the Isle of Wight – a job I absolutely adored – and have since been Assistant Manager at a pub in Gosport, Hampshire.

I love the job, but as my life’s dream is football journalism I’ve also started writing for A Different League again, and as of this weekend run the news on the site on a weekend.

I’ve also started writing regularly for a new betting newspaper called “Football Extra”, which is released in all good newsagents every Thursday.

Buuuuut I’m not here to plug all of that. I just wanted to say thanks to the people who’ve continued to visit and view the site despite my complete absence for ages. I’m determined to keep this place active once again, and so expect plenty of sport-related content on here, maybe with a few personal tidbits as well just for good measure.

So stay tuned! If I can get it anywhere near where it was before I departed then I’ll be a happy man, but for now I just want to say thanks and stay in touch:-)

Cheers

James


Hi everyone

Just wanting to let you know I’ve finally launched that new website I mentioned, it is located at:

http://www.gamingbeergoggles.com

At the moment there is only a Sims Medieval review on there, but more is coming soon including a Preview of Portal 2 among other things – that’s one I personally cannot WAIT to play and review!

So come along and check it out – as always, comments on there are always welcome.

Cheers

James

Update

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hi folks

I’m so sorry that I haven’t been on here in the past few months, the final year at uni has been something of a trying experience to say the least!

However, I am launching a new site with the short-term aim of passing a university assessment, but should it succeed then it will be an ongoing presence.

I won’t be announcing the URL until later this week, but for now just know that it’s about gaming through the beer glass.

Thanks for reading this, and I will update with the URL as soon as it is launched!

Cheers, be safe

James