"The Steam Link app brings your games to the small screen"
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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
The Steam Link app brings your games to the small screen
The Steam Link app sounds like a good idea.
Once you dig in, it's not quite as exciting.
There are really two use cases.
One for playing Steam games on your TV.
And two, playing them on your phone or tablet.
I haven't had a lot of time to dig into the pre-release as much as I wanted, though.
Just enough time to get a sense of how it works and what's involved.
The app connects to a computer via Steam's in-home streaming service.
Running in big picture mode.
If you've never used in home streaming, you should know that it completely takes over your system, simultaneously displaying the streamed game.
That's because it sends whatever's coming off the video card to the app.
So you've gotta be attached to the same network and the bandwidth needs to be pretty constant.
However, it doesn't require much, it maxes out at about 30 megabits per second, in part because you're limited to HD resolution.
It looks surprisingly good on a 4K TV, though, and it's perfectly fine on smaller phone and tablet screens.
Bluetooth controller connections aren't foolproof, though, unlike all the Cloud streaming objects, it's subject to occasional dropout, lag, and sync artifacts, like tearing.
That's a bit disappointing as well.
Streaming to your TV makes a lot of sense.
Streaming to your phone, not so much.
If you weren't tethered to the same network, it might make more sense.
A lot of games are also designed for the desktop and not playable on such a small screen.
And if they're optimized for keyboard and mouse, they can be kinda clunky with a controller.
I didn't get a chance to try it on my iPad, which is probably something you'd want to do occasionally.
But it's a free app, so if you have a library of games on Steam, you've got nothing to lose.
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