SteamBoy Handheld Is Now SMACH Zero, Hardware Specs Revealed

SteamBoy Handheld Is Now SMACH Zero, Hardware Specs Revealed

SMACH Zero

The SteamBoy Machine - renamed the SMACH Zero - has finally revealed its proposed hardware for playing mobile SteamOS games.

Last year the SteamBoy team offered a tantalizing prospect - a Steam Machine handheld that could access your library on the go. Announced by a third-party team for a 2015 release, the concept left us salivating, but we've heard little to suggest the project was still underway. Perhaps the whole thing was vaporware or a simple case of a dev being overly optimistic. Regardless, new press releases suggest the SteamBoy is moving forward after a fashion. The handheld has been renamed SMACH Zero, its release date is 2016, and - most importantly - the technical specs have been revealed.

If it works as advertised, the SMACH Zero handheld would be a mobile platform which fully supports SteamOS. Over 1,000 games would be playable at launch, including the SteamOS versions of Half-Life 2, Civilization V, Dota 2, Tropico 5, BioShock Infinite, and Cities: Skylines. It's an impressive claim, but technically not an impossible one - after all, the SMACH Zero uses a Steam Controller scheme similar to the one that should emulate mouse and keyboard controls.

Of course, all this is dependent on the hardware itself. Here are the SMACH Zero's specs:

  • AMD embedded G-Series SoC "Steppe Eagle" with Jaguar-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon graphics
  • 4 GB RAM memory
  • 32GB internal memory and SD Card Slot
  • USB OTG
  • 5-inch Touch screen with 720p resolution
  • Configurable tactile gamepads
  • HDMI video output connection
  • Wi-Fi conectivity
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 4G mobile network connectivity (PRO model only)

In other words, this isn't top-of-the-line hardware but is perfectly reasonable for the games mentioned above - just as expected for a handheld system. "SteamBoy won't be as powerful as other announced Steam Machines in the same way [the] Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita performance is not comparable to Wii U or PlayStation 4," a representative told The Escapist last year. "However, it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam."

The press release adds that pricing and availability options will be revealed during this August's Gamescom. Of course it would be great to see the device in action, but it's not clear that SMACH Zero will actually be at the convention. We've reached out to the SMACH Zero team for comment and will update this post with any additional information.

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Neat, even though I wonder if it'll catch on.
The vita has already shown that people generally don't want to play full "AAA" games on handhelds.

I kinda want a steam controller to see if those "tactile gamepad" touchpads are any good and if those allow for games you couldn't play on normal controllers to be played.

But does it support steam in home streaming?

HanFyren:
But does it support steam in home streaming?

You can easily stream to any Steam client running on Windows, OSX, Linux or SteamOS. The host machine currently has to be running Windows though.
This device runs SteamOS, so yes you can stream to it. There's also an open protocol called Limelight I think, that works with Steam streaming, allowing you to stream to other devices that don't necessarily run Steam on supported architectures.

Sorry, but I don't see the appeal. The nVidia Shield and TegraZone has already shown us that the Source and other engines can be ported to Android, and there are several Android gaming-centered platforms (GPD, JXD, Much, etc.) - plus, you can plug almost every controller to a rooted Android.

So why would anyone pick a handheld which runs a proprietary Linux OS instead of a rooted Android, with the appeal of a support community, game ports and emulation? Valve seems like it's deliberately going against the flow here, and I'm kind of puzzled as to why.

It... looks horrible.

I'm the one guy that does want triple A on the go. So if I could play some of my steam games on it on an airplane, without the need to be tethered to my pc (hi, Shield!), I'm actually hyped.

But I'm a semi big dude and that looks very unwieldy.

My question is what will happen say 2 years down the line, when technical advancements inevitably occur and your Steamboy (I'm not calling it by that stupid name) can not even touch the newest releases. Would you have to send it in for an upgrade? Will you just have to buy a new one every couple of years? I wouldn't even mind that so much if the price point wasn't so bad, given that's how the PC master race has been groomed.

The idea of this excites me. The logistics of future management baffles me.

So...it already has internal memory, and is going to likely have a bigger and more diverse selection of games available to it from day 1? Sounds like it already has the PS Vita beat.

Made in China:

So why would anyone pick a handheld which runs a proprietary Linux OS instead of a rooted Android, with the appeal of a support community, game ports and emulation? Valve seems like it's deliberately going against the flow here, and I'm kind of puzzled as to why.

Because it's Valve, and anyone on console who doesn't want to spend money on a good computer but hears from their PC gamer buddy how awesome Valve is will end up looking at this...if they hear about it, that is. I doubt this will end up ever having as much marketing as the DS or Vita have.

And I'm not saying this all as if it means this is the best choice, more that they are more likely to hear about this, if they are interested, over the ones you'd already mentioned.

That internal memory is pretty damn tiny.
It looks decent for someone willing to indulge last-gen games, but nothing more.

The only reason I'd even momentarily consider a Steam handheld at this point is because the other handhelds are the 3DS and Vita, with the former being WOEFULLY underpowered for anything but Nintendo games, and the latter being so badly neglected that it's worthless. (maybe for 80-100 bucks down the line, it'd be good fun...assuming Sony's services survive that long)

Sounds like a great idea, but using the Steam controller layout before it has been tested by users is a bit risky.
With that in mind, I'll probably want to buy it when it comes out.

Yeah, about those specs, how long is the battery life? 1 hours? What's the point of a handheld that you can't play without being tied down to a plug?

BiH-Kira:
Yeah, about those specs, how long is the battery life? 1 hours? What's the point of a handheld that you can't play without being tied down to a plug?

The cpu is only 8 watts so battery life isnt going to be shorter than any phone or tablet.

ObsidianJones:

My question is what will happen say 2 years down the line, when technical advancements inevitably occur and your Steamboy (I'm not calling it by that stupid name) can not even touch the newest releases. Would you have to send it in for an upgrade? Will you just have to buy a new one every couple of years? I wouldn't even mind that so much if the price point wasn't so bad, given that's how the PC master race has been groomed.

The idea of this excites me. The logistics of future management baffles me.

You wont be able to upgrade the hardware, you have to think of it like a tablet or phone. The normal PC hardware flexibility isnt there.

For me its a steamboy. smach zero sounds fucking stupid.

albino boo:

You wont be able to upgrade the hardware, you have to think of it like a tablet or phone. The normal PC hardware flexibility isnt there.

Which is my very point.

[qoute]In other words, this isn't top-of-the-line hardware but is perfectly reasonable for the games mentioned above - just as expected for a handheld system. "SteamBoy won't be as powerful as other announced Steam Machines in the same way [the] Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita performance is not comparable to Wii U or PlayStation 4," a representative told The Escapist last year, "However, it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam."[/quote]

The big consoles don't have to worry about if games will come to it, because designers are out there specifically making games for their products. This won't happen with the Steamboy. While Xbox, PS, and Wii U can have maybe a 6-8 year life cycle... hell, even a decade if you consider that games are still being made for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, PC games are made for the new hardware out. You have a computer 3 years old? good luck running Shadow of Mordor to the fidelity in which the game was meant.

Companies are not going to limit their games for the Steamboy. They are going to push the envelope to make the best and brightest and shiniest games they can.

That means by the time the system with its fixed hardware is out, there are already games being programmed to be beyond its capabilities. Essentially, we'd probably get a system that can manage with new games three years (at max) in the future. And I'm fine with that. We hardly keep our phones that long. I just want the price point to mirror the inevitable self-inflicted disposibility due to the limitations.

Is valve ever going to release a single piece of hardware they're working on, or just dev it into infinity?

I don't know why are some people against this. It's really neat. If I could play Civ V anywhere or Street Fighter IV etc. it would be amazing. There are so many games from my Steam library that would work well on those specs. I could play the entire Mass Effect trilogy on that for example. How fuckin' cool would that be? The only questions that needs answering are pricing and battery life.

Atmos Duality:
That internal memory is pretty damn tiny.

Keyword there is "internal". It says it also comes with an SD card slot, so assuming it's microSD you can increase it by another 128/256Gb or so.

Personally I'm liking the idea of a handheld that links to Steam, and where I've already bought the games I want for it. I'll definitely be giving this a go if it comes out.

Another year another boat load of promises... and no one has seen this shit do shit.

Have I mentioned I have a gold plated tablet PC coming out by christmas, it will play all games from all consoles at the same time! Only 14.99, be sure to pre-order now!

It is the worst name I have ever heard for any hardware, probably ever. I mean Wii is bad enough, and rhymes with pee.

This is worse and also rhymes with snatch ijs.

GAH, that name is horrible. They can't come up with anything better? Here's one, Turbine. Goes with the whole Steam theme naming.

Adam Jensen:
I don't know why are some people against this. It's really neat. If I could play Civ V anywhere or Street Fighter IV etc. it would be amazing. There are so many games from my Steam library that would work well on those specs. I could play the entire Mass Effect trilogy on that for example. How fuckin' cool would that be? The only questions that needs answering are pricing and battery life.

And what kind of trackpads they're using.

Valve didn't put basic trackpads in the Steam Controller, they put ultra-high resolution pads. So I'm curious how these SMACH Zero pads will perform.

I'm also curious what kind (if any) of haptic feedback systems this thing utilizes.

Still, if it works as advertised, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg, it could be fun to have.

Weaver:
Is valve ever going to release a single piece of hardware they're working on, or just dev it into infinity?

Valve isn't making this handheld. Nor, technically, are they making the Steam Machines.

Even so, the first batch of hardware (Controller, Link, and Machines) are coming out this October, for those who preordered, and are getting wide release in early November.

Hairless Mammoth:
GAH, that name is horrible. They can't come up with anything better? Here's one, Turbine. Goes with the whole Steam theme naming.

How about Punk?

That Hyena Bloke:

Keyword there is "internal". It says it also comes with an SD card slot, so assuming it's microSD you can increase it by another 128/256Gb or so.

True, as long as you're willing to find high performance cards.
Access rates (read/write) are a potentially nasty bottleneck, and avoiding that is going to cost a fair bit extra.

Personally I'm liking the idea of a handheld that links to Steam, and where I've already bought the games I want for it. I'll definitely be giving this a go if it comes out.

I can see a few games being great on the go (FTL springs to mind) though my main issues (besides storage) are controls and pricing. Still, like I said before, this looks more promising to me solely because I'm quite tired of the Nintendo trickle on the 3DS, and the Vita was DoA.
That, and I have a reasonably solid Steam library, assuming the machine can hack it.

Made in China:
Sorry, but I don't see the appeal. The nVidia Shield and TegraZone has already shown us that the Source and other engines can be ported to Android, and there are several Android gaming-centered platforms (GPD, JXD, Much, etc.) - plus, you can plug almost every controller to a rooted Android.

So why would anyone pick a handheld which runs a proprietary Linux OS instead of a rooted Android, with the appeal of a support community, game ports and emulation? Valve seems like it's deliberately going against the flow here, and I'm kind of puzzled as to why.

Only a few games will run on the Shield etc (without streaming), where as this will run any Linux compatible game locally on the device itself (which there are already thousands) that meet the system requirements. I could see myself getting one of these to use alongside my Vita.

loa:
Neat, even though I wonder if it'll catch on.
The vita has already shown that people generally don't want to play full "AAA" games on handhelds.

I don't think the Vita showed that, I think it was more that the Vita's proprietary memory was absurdly expensive which is why it still struggles even now.

RicoADF:
Only a few games will run on the Shield etc (without streaming), where as this will run any Linux compatible game locally on the device itself (which there are already thousands) that meet the system requirements. I could see myself getting one of these to use alongside my Vita.

The key phrase here is "Linux compatible". Many major releases aren't Linux compatible, and that impacts the actual library of games you'll be able to play on the Steamboy if you're primarily using Windows.
Not to mention, Android IS Linux. The engine might need some conversions and optimizations to fit the ARM specs, but most of the code can be used as-is. Again, it was shown in the nVidia Shield Portable, where they minimally converted Trine 2 as its launch title. If I recall correctly, they even boasted that the rendering engine was left almost untouched from the OpenGL version.

Well I know I'm gonna be using it to go through my gigantic backlog of humble bundle indie platformers and puzzle games.

This interests me purely for the huge ass backlog of indie games on my steam list with very little in regard to system requirements. I'd rather save my AAA games for my home PC on full settings. On the go I want simpler stuff.

 

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