Xi3's Piston launches for pre-orders - $899 for the console-PC hybrid

It's not the "Steam Box", but Piston - Xi3's living-room friendly small form PC - is a box with Steam in it. Technically all PCs have the potential to be boxes with Steam in them, but most aren't designed both specifically for gaming and to fit in the palm of your hand. In fact, I've just attempted to lift my PC with one hand and now my fingers hurt.

I knew there was a reason I wasn't a tech journalist.

At this weekend's SXSW Gaming Expo, Xi3 unleashed pre-orders of the device. It's a pricey proposition: $899.99 gets you the base version , with 8GB RAM and a 128GB internal solid state hard drive. And that's the special SXSW price. When the expo ends on March 17th, the standard cost of $999.99 takes effect.

Xi3 also offer upgrades to the initial specs, with a 512GB SSD bumping the price to $1,649.99.

Delivery of those pre-orders won't take effect until the console's release in "Holiday 2013". Xi3 CEO Jason A. Sullivan explained the timing of the pre-order launch, saying, "Given the amount of awards, media attention and gamer interest the PISTON Console has generated since it was unveiled at CES 2013 in January, we've become seriously concerned that we will not be able to meet the demand for PISTON Consoles this year. That's why we have decided to begin accepting pre-orders on our PISTON Console, beginning today with the start of the SXSW Gaming Expo."

As to how the Piston will work, Polygon captured some video footage of the device's interface. You can also hear its demonstrator making it very clear that he really doesn't care what people do with it.

Is anyone tempted by the Piston? As intrigued as I am by the concept, $900 for a new, untested device seems like an awfully large gamble.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.