Zotac Steam Machine ZBOX NEN SN970 Review

SteamOS - The User Experince

Zotac Steam Machine SN970 Review

SteamOS - The User Experince

 

As soon as I booted into SteamOS the UI was immediately familiar and identifiable, it was Steam's "Big Picture" mode, plain and simple, so accessing my games was as simple a process as breathing, since I am a seasoned PC gamer. 

The main menu is very plain and easy to use, to play games All I needed to do was click of hit the A button on the Library menu and then installing and playing them would only be a few clicks and a download away.  

Accessing the Steam Store, your friends list or even Steam integrated Web browser is also equally simple to do, making the SteamOS UI easily one of the simplest and straightforward that I have ever used, especially when compared to current generation consoles.

 

Zotac Steam Machine NEN SN970 Review

 

One small problem with Steam's Library is that it will show you all of your games, regardless of whether or not it is SteamOS compliant, though this is very easily filtered by genre, SteamOS/Linux compatibility or whether or not it is installed on your system. 

If you select a game on this list you have the options to install it (if it is SteamOS compatible) or Stream it from a different PC if you have another PC with Steam Connected to your home network.

  Zotac Steam Machine NEN SN970 Review  

SteamOS also has it's own built in Web browser, which is very usable with Valve's Steam Controller but suffers from the usual issues that console based web browsers possess. You can use this browser with a keyboard and mouse if you connect them, so it can be used like a normal PC, but it certainly use some refinement in the future. 

The Web Browser by default can link you to Reddit, twitter, YouTube and Facebook, but in my honest opinion the experience with these websites would be much better if there was a dedicated App for it inside Steam, one which was designed with a controller in mind. 

On the topic of dedicated apps, it would also be nice to see an app for Plex, Netflix or some other Streaming services, as this is something that users of Gaming consoles/ Living room entertainment systems demand today, so adding this kind of functionality is a must if Valve want to really make a truly Console-like PC gaming experience. 

 

Zotac Steam Machine NEN SN970 Review  

The best thing that we can say about SteamOS is that it just worked, GPU drivers installed automatically and both wired or wireless Internet connections were very easy to set up. 

One thing that does need to be addressed is the fact that our Steam Machine Automatically selected it's download region as China and required us to set the time ourselves, but this was something that was very easily fixed and is a problem which is likely unique to this early model. 

 

Summary

To put it simply SteamOS works exactly how you would expect, it just works, plain and simple. It will install updates automatically and take care of some of the things that many people find too complex about PC gaming like Driver updates and installing updates.

Accessing your games and even streaming from a different PC couldn't be a simpler process to set up, being just as easy to use as Valve's desktop client.  

My main gripes with the user experience on SteamOS is the lack of dedicated apps for services like YouTube, Netflix and other media services. This is something that users want in their home entertainment system and is something that Valve's SteamOS sorely lacks. While you can use the SteamOS through it's built-in internet browser, it would be great to see a dedicated app that is more easily used with the SteamOS controller. 

When using SteamOS you have the option to use mouse driven control or use a controller, be it Valve's own Steam Controller or a Xbox 360 Pad, which is exactly the same as on Steam's "Big Picture" mode on Windows version of Steam. If you want to see for yourself exactly how SteamOS functions, just look at Steam's existing "Big Picture" mode on the Steam Client, as it is almost identical. 

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Most Recent Comments

20-11-2015, 04:33:27

Wraith
Impressive! I can honestly see these machines becoming the death of consoles in the future, or at least the kick up the back side that Sony or Microsoft need to actually make games consoles attractive to the enthusiasts among us, but then again what would be the point in a console that has a 12 year shelf life, where's the profit in that.Quote

20-11-2015, 04:35:04

King of Old Old School
Can anyone say Console Killer Quote

20-11-2015, 05:19:25

stiff77
Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Old School View Post
Can anyone say Console Killer
It's £799.99

That's an Xbox One, A PS4 and £200 for games.

It's not killing anything. I can build a faster machine that is slightly bigger for less than this.Quote

20-11-2015, 05:28:01

Wraith
Quote:
Originally Posted by stiff77 View Post
It's £799.99

That's an Xbox One, A PS4 and £200 for games.

It's not killing anything. I can build a faster machine that is slightly bigger for less than this.
Aye but PC games are cheaper and have many many early access sites offering better prices compared to the mandatory £49.99 console game RRP, no online subscription fees, Steam library far out wieghs the level of titles available on consoles, with those savings alone it's a bonus. Admittedly Yes you could indeed build a Steam machine yourself for less and greater spec so again win win. I can still personnaly see Steam machines killing the console market.Quote

20-11-2015, 07:15:17

clownfromhell
I would love to see some benchmarks on this machine running Windows 10. I seriously consider buying it (I dig the form factor and I own and love a Zotac HTPC) for 1080p gaming on a TV, but I don't intend to ruin my experience with a subpar OS (and gamepad - Xbox One controller with a dongle is a must).Quote
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