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Gaming giant Valve, owner of the Steam distribution platform, has unveiled its long-rumoured Steam Deck handheld console as a rival to the Nintendo Switch.

The Steam Deck is powered by an AMD processor and GPU alongside 16GB RAM, and comes in three storage options – 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB – each expandable via a high-speed microSD slot. Its 40-watt-hour battery can support four to six hours of gameplay on more strenuous titles, with the maximum battery life of seven or eight hours available to low-intensity activities like 2D titles, game streaming, and web browsing.

Featuring a seven-inch 1280×800 touchscreen for 720p gameplay, it has a variety of options to support different control schemes: ABXY buttons, a D-pad, dual thumbsticks, a gyroscope for motion controls, two trackpads, shoulder triggers, and rear buttons.

Its software is designed to emulate the Steam desktop app, giving users full access to their Steam libraries and cloud saves; it can also be used to stream a game from a user’s PC via Steam’s Remote Play functionality, and more technical gamers can use it as a full-fledged Linux PC. The OS includes a quick suspend/resume feature that can put the device into sleep mode and later pick up where it left off.

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Additionally, the Steam Deck can be plugged into external displays like TVs via its USB-C ports; Valve is also selling an official docking station reminiscent of the Switch’s. The console natively supports Bluetooth audio, a feature lacking from Nintendo’s offering.

The Steam Deck is available for preorder in the US, Canada, UK, and EU, with the base 64GB model selling for $399 USD (around $540 AUD) – $100 USD more expensive than a standard Switch, and $40 dearer than Nintendo’s upcoming OLED Switch. The manufacturer has implemented restrictions in an aim to deter scalpers and resellers, including the requirement that buyers must have had a Steam account with at least one purchase before June 2021, as well as a one-reservation-per-customer limit with a refundable $5 USD fee.

Official Australian pricing and availability are yet to be revealed, with the console coming to the above regions in December.

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