Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Xi3 Steam Box starts preorders at $899

Computer company Xi3 opened preorders for its modular "Piston" mini-PC, with $100 off the regular $999 price tag for early birds.

Its custom chipboard contributes to the Piston's small form factor and is intended to make upgrading easier. Xi3's Piston model made waves at CES 2013 in January by its association with Valve's "Steam Box" project, aimed at making PCs the obvious driver of living-room entertainment.

Like the portable Shield from component manufacturer Nvidia, the Piston was announced as optimized for use with the Steam client and its Big Picture mode; presentations at SXSW made it clear that the Piston would also support Electronic Arts' Origin and Sony's Gaikai, as well as movies and music.

Valve has made a name for itself as the PC gaming network that holds over 50% of the download market and is operated by the developer of hits such as "Portal 2," "Half-Life 2" and "DOTA 2."

The Piston is to become one of several Steam-licensed machines, with several manufacturers expected to provide alternatives to Xi3's high-end model and Valve CEO Gabe Newell telling the February DICE Summit that a $100 price point was being targeted.

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