Love letter to the original Steam link: Sorry to take you for granted

In 2018, I was able take a photo of my body steam link When Valve was whipping them up for £2.50 here in the UK ($2.50 in US dollars). I was actually purchasing a Steam controllerI found the deal through Steam and my partner at the time, so I bought it on a whim. That little black tool has left a lasting impression on me.

Steam Link is quite simple. It’s a box-shaped, wireless dongle that plugs into your TVs HDMI port. This allows you stream games directly from your computer through your home Internet. It was very stable over Wi-fi. I didn’t notice any lag. You can connect wired peripherals such as keyboards, mice, keyboards and headphones to the device via three USB 2.0 ports.

I was able to use all of these ports to eliminate my old wired game controllers and to work with friends on the couch. bliss.
Image: valve

I have had access to both PCs and consoles over the years so I didn’t think I would be loyal to one side or the other of the PC vs console debate. There are some titles that you just feel more comfortable playing while sitting on a couch with a controller. The physical Steam Link allowed me to play both online and offline. The Witcher 3Or SkyrimAll my mods are accessible from my living room or my bedroom. World of WarcraftYou can do this directly from the same computer.

Despite Steam Link’s obvious superiority over its predecessor, Steam Link has been plagued by problems

The Steam Link was acquired by the former partner. Valve then removed the listing from Steam for the device. The Steam Link appIt was released on Android in 2018 to replace the original Steam Link, and later followed by an iOS version in 2019. It can be downloaded directly onto most smart TVs. It functions in the same way as the original Steam Link, and offers some advantages over the old box (like regular software updates and 4K streaming support, where Steam Link was limited to 1080p). However, I experienced connection problems and poor latency while using it. Now I want the dongle back.

Screenshot of the Steam link app showing console settings that can be modified.

The Steam Link app allows remote controls and settings to be adjusted. However, I find that it crashes every time I spend too much time in its Steam app menu.
Photo by Alice Newcomb-Bell

On days streaming works, however, the stream will freeze or crash randomly. The input lag is so bad that I give up and play on my computer instead. Sometimes, the app will disconnect from my computer or refuse to load. In these cases, I must delete it and reinstall it onto my TV. These are issues that I have never experienced with the original Steam Link hardware. It worked flawlessly every time I plugged it into.

Despite having better technical setups and faster internet, I can’t duplicate the reliability of the original Steam link.

I have much faster internet speeds and a better Wi-Fi connection now than I did before. This Philips OLED television is less than two-years old. My current ethernet-connected gaming computer is more powerful and is closer to my TV than the Steam Link. I checked every connection and parameter and the Steam Link app won. ShouldThe job. But she doesn’t.

Other streaming services have not lived up to the expectations. Nvidia recently announced that the GameStream feature of the Nvidia Shield TV (which functions similarly to the Steam Link App) is coming close. It plans to discontinue the service in February 2023. nvidia Now direct users towardsIts cloud gaming platform GeForce Now(with which I tested average performance, despite paying a priority level), or, frustratingly the Steam Link app. Other cloud streaming platforms, such as Google Stadia, are also not usable due to latency. While cloud gaming technology can be very useful, it isn’t a viable replacement for devices such as the Steam Link.

A group of devices on a table, all showing the Nvidia GeForce Now streaming service.

Nvidia’s GeForceNow service was not the best for me. However, Nvidia Shield’s GamesStream feature was excellent. Unfortunately, the service was discontinued in February 2023.
Image by Nvidia

There are two possible solutions to this problem, one is to search online for Steam Link listings. The other is to connect my TV to my router using an ethernet cable. This will solve at least some connectivity issues. However, it’s frustrating that I didn’t do this with my physical Steam Link. It worked flawlessly on my slower Wi-Fi at a greater distance and I didn’t have to carry cables around my living area.

Another, more drastic solution is to spend a lot of money on a dedicated mini computer for my TV like an Intel NUC. I’m not even considering it as it would be over a thousand bucks and I already have an excellent gaming computer in another room. That’s a lot to spend for an experience that cost me less than a cup if coffee.

Due to its limitations, Steam Link hardware will eventually become obsolete

The reason Valve has chosen to discontinue the dongle is sound – the 1080p cap will eventually render it obsolete and the software version can still be used on non HDMI devices. I’m not the only one who is dissatisfied by the app. Reddit threads still ask for help regularlyTroubleshooting is what you do, while other users are doing the same. Compare their experiences using the two versions of Steam LinkSee which one performs better.

Despite Google Stadia’s imminent shutdown, many companies have continued to work hard to make cloud gaming more accessible to consumers. Chromebooks for gamingReleased with Nvidia’s GeForce Now service preinstalled for example. Finally, Xbox Cloud gaming is making its way to the Meta Quest VR headset. Streaming games from a cloud service is fine when it works. However, for many people, it isn’t an option to LAN-based game streaming. A 1080p dongle is the best option for cloud gaming, at least until it becomes the exciting showcase these companies promise.

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