Let me start by saying, “IT’S ABOUT TIME!” One of the last big hurdles to getting a quality PC gaming experience on your TV – the interface – now falls away. Valve’s Steam platform (one of the most common way PC gamers play, these days…in case you didn’t know) finally released its “Big Screen Mode” beta. What’s the big deal about it? You’re able to plug your PC into a TV and, with a gamepad from the couch, you’ll navigate Steam – and play your games. For a walkthrough of how to set it up – and how it works with an HP PC, keep reading.
It may not seem like a big deal.
Technically, for ages now you could plug a PC into your TV. If you wanted to play PC games with a gamepad, you could do that as well. But there was this disconnect that most people still had. Even when I’d talk to journalists about it, many didn’t think to try placing their PC anywhere near the biggest monitor in their house. Maybe it was because you’d still need to get off the couch to actually select and start games within Steam. It wasn’t so long ago that I crafted a mini-rant about why laptops are better than game consoles. Now, with “Big Screen Mode,” you can be a PC couch potato – and more people will hopefully wake up to the fact that PC gaming is a smarter way to play.
How does it work? Glad you asked….
First, make sure that your Steam account is set up for Beta access. After you’ve installed the client, hit the Steam tab at the top of the window and click on “settings.” At the bottom of the “account” tab, there is a big ol’ box for “Beta participation.” It’ll tell you right there if you’re in or out. If you’re not in it, click the “change” button just below. Pretty simple, right?
All right, next step: Kicking the tires on “Big Screen Mode” since the beta is now live – and you really should try it out for yourself. Just press the “Big Picture mode” button in the top right corner of the window and this is what you get. Now, for a little taste test, I stacked up the experience on Steam versus using a game console.
I only gave you a quick example of how it works because, quite frankly, a bunch of journalists have already done deep dives about how it works. Or, you could just go to Valve’s page on the matter. One thing I don’t talk about in the video is the virtual keyboard. They are toying with an interface that allows you to use a gamepad to choose letters. It takes a little time to get into the groove, but it works. Honestly, I’d love to see Steam eventually work with the keypad that plugs into the Xbox 360 controller. Otherwise, all the caveats that come with beta software apply. There are random quirks that can and will show up….just keep in mind that if you do try this out for yourself (which I highly recommend), it is still very much a work in progress.
What do you think? Have you tried it? What kind of computer do you have and are you thinking of going for the Big Picture mode? I’d love to hear what your experiences are with it!