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These 4 things could keep the Steam Deck from being great

The Steam Deck looks awesome, but there are a few areas where Valve could do a little better.

steam deck handheld
Image: KnowTechie

Valve’s new Steam Deck has been the hot topic of the PC gaming world in the last couple of weeks. The company behind the insanely popular PC gaming store announced its handheld PC gaming rig just a few weeks ago.

Since its announcement, we’ve learned a lot about the Steam Deck. The new handheld rig will come at three different price points with various storage capabilities, starting at $399 for a 64GB version. It will have a 7″ LCD display and the company claims that it will be capable of running any game in the massive Steam library with at least 30 frames per second.

This new gaming rig has obviously got a lot of people excited. The versatility of the machine is seemingly unmatched in the handheld gaming category, and the Steam Deck could give the insanely popular Nintendo Switch a run for its money. Despite the hype around the Steam Deck, some of the things we’ve learned so far don’t seem so impressive, and there are definitely areas where the rig could improve.

Some of the things that Valve could improve upon with the Steam Deck

I want to start off by making it clear that I am actually excited to see what the Steam Deck is all about. I think the new handheld seems very cool and will be great for people who want to take their Steam library on the go without having to bring a full-on laptop.

But there are some areas that have made me question some of Valve’s decision-making with this device. Let’s get into it.

LCD vs. OLED

lcd vs oled screens
Image: Gearbest

The first thing that caught my attention was that the Steam Deck will have an LCD screen instead of utilizing the more efficient and overall better OLED option. Honestly, me noticing it probably has something to do with the fact that the Steam Deck was announced shortly after Nintendo announced its new Switch console with an OLED screen.

The decision to go with the less appealing LCD screen type doesn’t really make much sense to me. An OLED screen just makes the picture look so much better on devices, as each pixel is individually backlit. OLED screens are also much thinner, which could greatly increase the space inside the machine for other hardware components. It just seems odd that Valve would go with LCD on its groundbreaking handheld gaming PC that starts out at $399.

Another minor complaint about Steam Deck’s screen is the subpar resolution. The Steam Deck has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which is only slightly better than the Nintendo Switch that came out over four years ago. You would think Steam could do a little better than that with its handheld PC.

Steam Deck doesn’t come with Windows installed

steam deck with windows
Image: KnowTechie

Maybe my biggest issue with the Steam Deck announcement is the fact that it will not come with Windows installed as its operating system. Instead, the device will come with a modified version of Linux that will be optimized specifically for the Steam Deck.

The reasoning behind this is somewhat understandable. Surely the company had to optimize the operating system to work specifically with the Steam Deck’s controls, and maybe that was easier with Linux. The problem lies in the games and their ability to be played on Linux.

Just about every single game on the Steam Platform is optimized for Windows. While there are some that are optimized for Linux, the number is much lower. This means that, out of the box, the Steam Deck will likely be limited to the games optimized for a Linux operating system.

Of course, you’ll be able to download Windows to the Steam Deck, but that will come with its own set of problems. As I said earlier, Windows isn’t necessarily optimized for the Steam Deck, so there could be some interface issues when trying to install the OS on the device.

I do understand that Windows is not an open-source operating system, and Linux is, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. Still, it would have been nice if the Steam Deck could come with an optimized version of Windows installed. The device will have a touch screen, so it seems like that could be a possibility.

Dock sold seperately

Another minor complaint that I have about the Steam Deck is the fact that the dock is sold separately. It’s not a huge dealbreaker since the device is meant for handheld gaming, but it is something that I just shake my head at.

Much like the Nintendo Switch, there’s also a dock that you can get with the Steam Deck. The dock will let you send out your games to an external display, like your TV or monitor, so you can play like it’s an actual PC. The only problem is, it’s sold separately.

The dock for the Steam Deck hasn’t even actually been revealed yet, so we don’t really even know what we’re missing yet. Surely the company will begin selling the two together in a bundle eventually, but that will only add to the already somewhat steep price.

Subpar battery life

steam deck multiplayer
Image: Valve

My last complaint on the Steam Deck so far has to do with the battery life. When developing something like the Steam Deck that needs to appeal to PC gamers, the device needs to have a battery life worthy of long-term gaming sessions that PC gamers love to pull off. Unfortunately, the Steam Deck’s battery look’s just okay.

The Steam Deck claims to have a maximum eight-hour battery life, but we all know those maximums are a bit generous. Sure, playing the least demanding game with the brightness turned way down and nothing going on on-screen might allow for eight hours of gaming, but I think we’re more likely to see three to four hours when playing more demanding games.

While three to four hours doesn’t seem that bad, it’s really not going to cut it when you’re looking for those hardcore gaming sessions that you get on your PC. The Steam Deck could use a bit bigger battery, and they could fit one if they switched over to an OLED screen!

The Steam Deck’s not perfect, but I’m still excited

Those are all of my real complaints about the Steam Deck so far. Again, I want to make it clear that I really am excited to see what the device is all about. There are just a few areas where I think it could have been improved.

Still, the handheld gaming rig is still months away, so we will have to wait and see what it’s capable of. Hopefully, the rig surprises us and is the handheld gaming rig that PC gamers have been waiting for.

If you are interested in snagging a Steam Deck of your own, you can currently reserve one now, with shipping planned for December 2021.

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