CNET First Look
Alienware Steam Machine: A smaller game library, but a controller with big potentialSee Valve's new Steam Controller in action on new and classic games.
We've been waiting a long time for this. Now it's finally here. I'm Dan Ackerman with a first look at Alienware's Steam Machine. It runs an operating system called Steam OS. Valve is the company that runs the The steam online game store. They've also created cool games like Portal and Half Life. And they;ve even invited all sorts of PC hardware makers that make boxes that run Steam OS. And the first big one to be erased is going to be the Alienware Steam Machine. It's going to be out in November for $450. And for that you get. A basic looking box that's essentially a PC in a console box. Core i3 CPU, custom Nvidia GPU, but most importantly this guy right here, the Steam Controller. So with the Steam Controller, Valve set out to reimagine how you control games. So it's got these two pads on it, these two sort of almost touch pads. Combined with one stick and a bunch of buttons, and then some triggers and paddles. This pad especially works almost like moving a mouse on a mousepad, or can work kind of like a traditional old school trackball if that's what you want. There are a lot of setup options. And frankly, in hands on use, it works differently in different games, better in some, not as good in others. So here's a really good example. In Bioshock Infinite, I walk around with the left stick like you would with a game pad, and then I use the right pad to look around. And it took a little getting used to, I actually had to go in and tweak the sensitivity level on the controls. We can actually go into the configure the game controller section, and you can see how the controller here is set up, and then you can choose different configurations, either recommended ones, or ones provided by the community, and as more people get this system, hopefully they'll come up with their own key bindings and settings that work and upload them. It actually works fairly well with things like Strategy games like Civ 5, where you really do have fine control to zoom all over the map, and take control of individual units, which also have the flexibility of using a mouse, where you can really just very easily scroll around, and then you can take your right stick, and you can just move the cursor anywhere. So Team Fortress 2 is a hugely popular multiplayer game, and it's one of the ones like DOTA 2 that you can actually play on Steam OS and it's one of the ones where the Steam controller, even though it's a first person shooter, actually work really well. So the controls don't exactly map one to one with what you'd expect using a traditional game pad or using a traditional keyboard and mouse. You have to kind of figure out Exactly which command works with which button and which trigger and which paddle on here. So it takes a little bit of getting used to. The real wrench in the system is there's a second version of this Alienware box called the Alienware Alpha. Almost the same exact hardware. But it runs Windows 10 and comes with a Xbox controller instead of the Steam controller. And that let's you play all the games you can play on here Plus the thousands of other steam games that are Windows only and the strange thing is that box and this box cost exactly the same. So if you want to be adventurous and be kind of a pioneer in gaming then maybe consider the alien Steam machine version. If you're a traditionalist and you want to play upcoming games like, let's say, Fallout 4, then take a look at the nearly identical Alienware Alpha. I'm Dan Ackman, and that is the Alienware Steam Machine with SteamOS. [SOUND]