The Steam Deck changed quite a bit in the process of development and refinement, as some freshly aired photos of prototypes make clear enough.
As PC Mag (opens in new tab) According to the reports, Valve developer Pierre Loup Griffais posted photos of older prototype models of the Steam Deck – which were being rolled out for a press event in Asia – on Twitter to show how the device evolved.
As part of the Asia launch press event, we turned the design lab into a showroom with development history. My favorite are the playable prototypes: bootable Deck family tree from mid-2019 to now, from a few hand-built units to gradual mass production. pic.twitter.com/TpU5I8D50pSeptember 12, 2022
As Griffais points out, these are prototypes as of mid-2019 and it’s interesting to see how the design of the portable gaming PC has progressed.
While the overall design remains roughly the same throughout, there are some key differences. The earlier models are noticeably more curved, with more pronounced contours on the side and front.
Also, the trackpads are round in those older prototypes, and instead of a D-pad there are four separate directional buttons on the top left of the deck. The thumbsticks on the earlier hardware are also a bit smaller.
Griffais further tweeted (opens in new tab) to clarify that the prototypes shown are “mostly” functional and boot just fine, with a video to illustrate this, then Half Life 2 loads.
Analysis: A glimpse of the future Steam Deck Mini?
It’s a rare treat to see the evolution of a device in this way, and the prototypes have certainly sparked some discussion online, as you might imagine. Those earliest models look a little clunky in some ways, and indeed retro, but it’s the middle incarnation that has attracted the most interest. And we agree that it looks impressively clean and sleek, and also noticeably more compact than the final Steam Deck design.
As some people have suggested, if a Steam Deck Mini version is ever made, this might be the design cues from. While a smaller portable computer would have certain advantages, it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone – and while it looks sleek, there are probably good reasons, ergonomically and functionally speaking, why Valve didn’t stay on this course.
Likewise, there is quite a bit of love for the round trackpads, but not everyone’s. What we’re certainly happy with to see Valve move away is the slightly smaller and shallower thumbsticks, which don’t seem like a good idea to us.
We don’t know much about the future of the Steam Deck at this stage, but what we do know is that Valve is planning multiple generations of the handheld — not much of a surprise given its popularity — and the idea is that they’ll be “more open and capable.” ” are then the current Deck. A high promise indeed.