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I must say right away that I am not a hardcore gamer, butrather an old fart: I was very active in playing games when a home computer was a luxury. But I now have the latest versions of consoles from Microsoft and Sony and a top gaming laptop in my arsenal, so there is something to compare Steam Deck with.
When choosing a handheld game console, I opened toa whole world of devices. Basically, these are Chinese crafts of little-known brands, which are, in fact, Windows laptops packed in a miniature case reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. And everything seems to be good in them - a powerful filling, a familiar operating system, even high-quality high-resolution screens. However, for users like me, there is one giant “but” in all these compact Windows consoles: they all require a lot of digging into the operating system and selecting the optimal settings for each game.
And here comes the Steam Deck:a console that has one foot in the territory of game consoles, and the other relies on a community of geeks who are ready to spend hours perfecting the gameplay. Just what the doctor ordered! If you are not a fan of fine tuning dozens of game parameters, you can simply turn on Steam Deck and start playing: SteamOS is very similar in user experience to Xbox and Playstation. Valve even carefully puts a quality mark on each game, showing how comfortable the gaming experience is on the console. But if you like to keep track of heat dissipation, frame rate, battery drain, anti-aliasing, FPS limiting, etc., you can do it all on Steam Deck. Thanks to the integration of the community of players in SteamOS, you can even choose your own custom control settings.
Since I am a gamer-old fart, I started the consoleexperience with GTA V and various car games (Forza Horizon 5, Wreckfest, beamNG). The impression is the following: everything works perfectly. I don't even have anything to complain about. And at the same time, I did not set up anything: I played like on a console: I installed the game, launched it - I play. Joycons, buttons, triggers, trackpads are made to last and evoke only positive emotions. In GTA V, it turned out to be very convenient to aim using a gyroscope: you put your finger on the right joystick and slightly tilt the console in your hands. Almost as accurate as aiming with a PC mouse!
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The console works as it should:turns on in a couple of seconds at the touch of a button, and you can immediately continue playing from the place where you left off. No long wakeups, no downloads, no other PC woes. You can charge it with any USB-C adapter. For example, I use a power supply from a MacBook Pro 16. Through the USB-C hub, the Steam Deck can also be connected to a TV, so the console becomes the ultimate gaming option when traveling.
Now about the cons, but they are.Perhaps the biggest problem with Steam Deck is its unreliable power system. Forums and chat rooms are flooded with complaints from users whose set-top boxes burned out when using USB hubs or an aftermarket charger. Similar problems with microSD memory cards: the console somehow renders them inoperative, after which they cannot be formatted and can only be thrown away. So far I've been lucky, I haven't run into either one or the other. But less risky users try to use the original charger and avoid microSD.
The next issue is battery life -does not refer specifically to Steam Deck, but to all devices in this form factor. There are no miracles in the world, with an active game, the battery will melt before our eyes. Let's just say that two hours of continuous work is a very good result. Of course, Steam Deck gives you the ability to fine-tune power consumption: lower TDP, limit FPS, etc., but the battery life revolution will still not happen.
Overall, I'm impressed with my first experiencewith a portable game console. Perhaps people who are more deeply immersed in the world of ONEXPLAYER, Aya Neo, GPD and other manufacturers will not agree with me, but I can definitely recommend Steam Deck to users who do not enjoy screwing and finishing, but just want to play, here and now. Yes, after the horror stories about the power system, it became a little scary to insert the first USB-C cable that came across at home into the console. But it is worth turning on the game that is available to you at any time, wherever you are, and all fears fade into the background.