Two years after its release, the PlayStation 5 is still hard to come by, so patience is a virtue. But if you’re interested in purchasing a Steam Deck, you’ll be happy to know that Valve now ships them immediately after purchase, eliminating the need to wait for a long-awaited pre-order. There will be zero minutes of waiting time, zero lines and zero $5 reservations. In addition, it now offers an official Docking Station for purchase.
Using Twitter and Steam, Valve announced the new Docking Station’s availability and streamlined buying process. In addition, Valve has promised “tonnes and lots” of upgrades to SteamOS that would, supposedly, vastly enhance the docking experience.
There are also enhancements to the keyboard and an offline mode. (The latter should help alleviate a common Steam Deck user complaint, as online connectivity is required for login in many Steam games.)
It costs $89 for the authorized Steam Deck Docking Station. Although a few third-party docks do exist, including some that are less expensive, we anticipate that Valve’s Docking Station will become the industry standard. The USB ports on JSAUX’s cheaper dock are version 2.0, but on Valve’s dock, they’re all version 3.1.
It has gigabit Ethernet connectivity, which is fantastic for downloading huge games. The Steam Deck includes both a DisplayPort 1.4 and an HDMI 2.0 connector, so you can connect multiple displays and take advantage of its support for 4K at 60 frames per second and 1440p at 120 frames per second, as well as the typical FreeSync features.
The impending keyboard upgrades are much appreciated, and I look forward to seeing if the official Docking Station is compatible with my favorite add-ons, such as the Deckmate. The keyboard has always been a bit erratic for me, so I’m glad to see Valve improving the feel of using the touchscreen or touchpad to input text.
The keyboard is also said to be getting support for other languages in the near future. These include Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
However, Valve has been rather vague about the specifics of the Offline Mode’s enhancements. This mode performs essentially as advertised, although it hasn’t exactly been the Deck’s strongest suit.
Many users have noted that the Deck’s mobility is severely limited by its unstable offline mode. These flaws are not limited to online games; numerous players have reported them in single-player games as well. If we needed further proof that DRM software is annoying, we have it now.
However, the frustrating offline mode is only a small hiccup in an otherwise fantastic Steam Deck adventure. It’s encouraging to see that Valve has been able to smooth out some of the manufacturing issues that had been plaguing them.