Gaming hardware seems to be taking the stage at CES. A prototype for Valve's 'Steam Box' console was showcased at the event. The prototype, dubbed Piston, is made by Xi3, and is designed specifically to support Steam and its Big Picture Mode on TVs.

According to Polygon, the Piston is modelled on Xi3's X7a computers. While the company wouldn't talk about the pricing of the machine, it can be speculated, as the X7a computer is priced at $999. This could be a major turn off for gamers, as a new Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 would end up being much less expensive than the Piston.

The Steam Box prototype made by Xi3—Piston (image credit: Polygon)

The Steam Box prototype made by Xi3—Piston (image credit: Polygon)

Even cutting the price by half would still be as expensive as the PlayStation 3 was when it first launched. It is possible that Valve would be heavily subsidising the cost of the consoles, and would depend on introducing more gamers to its digital distribution platform Steam to make a profit instead.

Valve has also said that this is one of the many Steam Box prototypes that the company is showcasing at CES. “Valve will be at CES to meet with hardware and content developers in our booth space,” Valve marketing Director Doug Lombardi said. “We are bringing multiple custom (hardware) prototypes as well as some off-the-shelf PCs to our CES meetings.”

Lombardy has said that the prototypes are meant to be “low-cost, high-performance designs for the living room that are great candidates for Steam and Big Picture.” More information will be revealed by Valve in the coming months.

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