If you’ve been following this whole Steam Box hoopla, then the reveal of Xi3’s comparable “Piston” console should be a thing of the past. First shown off last year, the compact PC, meant to be played from the comfort of one’s couch on their living room television, has turned some heads. With PC gaming at a peak, folks are seemingly intrigued by the idea of a console-sized PC that is meager in price but heavy on options. Thus, when Xi3 unveiled their Steam Box rival, some gamers started following it closely. Now, after months of waiting, Xi3 has finally let loose the expected pricing and systems specifications.
Starting at $1,000, the standard version of the portable PC comes complete with a 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 3.2Ghz Quad Core processsor. Tacking on an extra $340 will net folks a 256GB SSD, while an additional $750 will rake in 512GB of that solid state goodness. Of course, if you pre-order it now you can score $100 off the final price… you know, because only the best consoles are released at a discounted price. Anyhow, while this seems like a decent enough option for those casual PC gamers who like to just throw away money, or don’t want to bother building their own rig, we can’t help but wonder if this kind of price gouging will be synonymous with these machines. Charging extra for the sake of ease and convenience works on many levels, but as PC gamers, the Piston seems overpriced and a shilling under-powered. For the same amount of money, gamers could build something superior with an actual DVD/Blu ray drive, and not put forth nearly as much effort as they may think building/customizing one’s own rig requires.
The problem with the Piston, aside from being one part uninspired and one part awful in terms of visual design and overall aesthetic pizzazz, is that it doesn’t have an audience. With Valve getting ready to unleash their Steam Box, and with the majority of PC gamers supporting their software and ideology already, the Piston feels like an unaware, overpriced cash-in on an idea that will be pioneered not by them, but by the guys who wanted to make it popular in the first place. Sure, the concept of a “Steam Box” isn’t an exclusively new one — after all, Dell’s Alienware X51 has been out on the market for quite some time — but to have something like the Piston present itself as a serious contender for the PC-console hybrid heavyweight title, feels sort of funny, sort of confusing, sort of unnecessary and a lot underwhelming.
That being said, we’d be willing to overlook all of the “console’s” shortcomings if it was in the least bit an attractive piece of hardware… But it’s not… Seriously, that thing is terrible looking. Get it off my screen.