Daily Authority: 🎮 Steam Deck tested

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☕ Good morning! Alright, so, I’m back after finally having Covid. I think I’m back at about 80%? Anyway, coffee is extremely helpful, and there’s a lot going on as we build to Samsung’s Unpacked event tomorrow.

Steam Deck on show

So Valve’s Steam Deck has been put in the hands of some YouTubers for some early reviews and it’s real interesting to see how big it is, and how well it does.

  • The likes of GamersNexus and Linus Tech Tips put out videos, and ThePhawx has almost a full hour-long video, with Valve’s blessing to go hard on hardware: teardowns, testing, everything.
  • But because Valve is involved with some embargoes, what we have is not quite full reviews, because only certain games could be played and the software experience wasn’t really able to be talked about at all as that is finalized.
  • But we do have some early insights and there’s good (solid gameplay at 60fps) and not as good (battery).

What we now know:

  • The $400 handheld gaming console really looks like it’ll excite gamers because it seems like a great way to get PC games without having to sit at the ol’ desk.
  • The main details are ergonomics, performance, battery life, and so on.
  • It’s a big device, Linus said he (and his wife!) had some troubles reaching all buttons, but loved the feel of the joysticks, speakers, screen, though the haptics are miserable: “At the moment, haptics on this device are a poo stain on an otherwise crisp white sheet,” is the quote, but Valve said a software update is coming.
  • As for performance, GamersNexus went pretty deep on temperature concerns around overheating and found solid thermal designs, in a 37 minute video. It seems like performance isn’t an issue to run games at 1280×800 resolution at 60fps …but…
  • Battery life can only really be extended if you’re capping frame rates: one video suggests running games at 30Hz to extend the battery further which, yeah, makes sense but is a shame nonetheless.
  • Basically, battery life tests showed Valve’s claimed eight hours of light play games is pretty generous. High-power games like Devil May Cry 5 drained the thing in 1.5 hours. With a bunch of settings tweaked, you can get more time. Linus got three hours and 21 minutes of Ghostrunner when playing at 30fps, for example. Valve is working on improving that battery life further as the device gets very close to launch.
  • Also, in comparison to other handheld PC gaming devices like the Aya Neo, the Steam Deck comfortably wins out.


Chart Tuesday

What makes Amazon tick is clearer than ever through a bunch of insights post-earnings:

  • Amazon’s advertising business was broken out for the first time: and it’s the same size as YouTube, bringing in ad revenue of $9.7 billion in the last quarter, noted by analyst Ben Evans as being about the same size as the global newspaper business. (We don’t know how much of that is from Twitch vs e-commerce ads, etc.).
  • Also, Amazon is finally paying its tech workers more. Amazon, well known for being a demanding but good place to work, has not paid tech employees as well as other Big Tech companies. It has now raised its maximum base pay for corporate/tech employees from $160,000 to $350,000. A reported 50 vice presidents left the company in the past year.
  • The telling detail here is that Amazon no longer can bank on growth in its stock price to make up for relatively low salaries as part of the overall compensation plan.

Anyway, the other moving part of Amazon that is costing it more and more is transport and logistics: It’s more expensive than ever to be moving packages around, especially as Amazon keeps churning through its workforce of warehouse staff. Take a look with this chart from Statista based on Amazon’s data dumps:

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