Valve has released a beta Steam Link functionality for Android devices. This free downloadable app allows the player to connect mobile hardware to any Steam computer remotely on their local network. Then the games are streamed through player’s router to a smartphone or tablet, or to a receiver attached to a big screen television. It’s an extension of Steam’s existing, in-house streaming for Windows and Mac computers. The system is extraordinarily good.
From a software perspective, getting set-up is extremely easy. However, on the hardware side, if you’re looking for best results, set-up gets somewhat more involved. Steam Link and Steam in-home streaming, both require higher bandwidth for decent image quality and the data connectivity needs to be reliable and consistent. So, for the best experience, the host PC should be hardwired via Ethernet to user’s central router, or at least, connected with good quality, high-speed powerline adapters if your computer is further afield. There onwards, Valve recommends a 5GHz WiFi connection to the user’s receiver device to ensure high bandwidth and good consistency.
Setting up the software is an easy task. The user needs to connect his/her phone or tablet to the network, run Steam Link. The app will locate his/her gaming PC straight away. Ensure that an input device is connected (Valve supplied a Steam Controller for testing), run the network test, connect and it is good to go. The user doesn’t actually log in to a mobile Steam client. Instead, s/he is given a PIN to enter on the PC. This syncs up the data and provides access to the user account and games library. Then the interface shifts into Steam’s familiar Big Picture mode, which comes with full touchscreen and controller support. At last, the player has to select the game s/he wants to play, and s/he is good to go.
Today’s Android launch is for the beta code, which usually comes with teething issues. As reported by the users, included in the list of current problems, there is some stutter in playback, occasionally distorting audio and some compatibility issues with Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One S controllers. The latter problem might be phone-related as Valve’s controller works well as per other users. Swapping in and out of Steam Link while streaming also causes some black screen issues that required rebooting the app.
There are these problems at the current stage. But this is the beta stage, which is released at first place to free the app from bugs and errors so that when the app is released to the public, it runs smoother. The gaming enthusiasts have high hopes for this one.