After releasing in early 2022, selling approximately 3 million units and triggering a portable gaming PC war, Valve is back with the latest model of its Steam Deck hardware, the Steam Deck OLED.
Launching Thursday, Nov. 16, Valve’s latest rendition replaces the original’s LCD screen with an HDR OLED display, significant battery life improvements, faster Wifi speeds and a 5% general weight reduction. But as a switch manufacturer, where our heart truly lies is in the Steam Deck OLED controller.
Steam Deck OLED Controller
Much of the marketing will focus on the vibrant new display, 1TB storage, 50 Whr Lithium-Ion battery and Wifi 6E, but all of the components involved in the controller were part of a thought process prioritizing performance and reliability. It’s just as important to avoid things like joystick drift and jammed controller buttons as it is a battery that’s constantly dying.
Valve made plenty of improvements to the Steam Deck’s full-sized controls. The company highlighted the following features:
- Adjusted analog stick top material and shape for increased grip and dust build-up resistance
- Adjusted analog stick post material to improve interaction feel with front cover and reduce wear
- Improved reliability of analog stick touch detection
- Improved responsiveness and tactility of shoulder buttons switch mechanism
- Adjusted D-pad snap ratio and diagonal interactions
- Redesigned trackpad for improved fidelity and edge detection
- Greatly improved trackpad haptics feel and precision
What does it all mean? According to Sean Hollister of The Verge, “The shoulder buttons and Steam/Quick Access buttons are clickier. The thumb stick tops are taller, wider and grippier, making it slightly easier to make your character keep running in one direction; they’ve got a tackier, more recessed smooth divot on top that’s a lovely perch for your thumb.”
The graphics on the keys have a darker tone, the sticks have a grippier design and the bumpers have been tuned for better responsiveness. There was clearly a lot of trial and error in this process.
The new Steam Deck can be all yours for $549 (512 GB of storage) or $649 (1TB). There’s also a transparent version for $679 that features a touch of orange coloring on the thumb sticks, vents and screws.
Interestingly, the Steam Deck OLED prides itself on being easy to repair and mod with internal components that are readily accessible by removing the screws on the rear case. You can then get a look at the new and improved fan, which quietly goes about combating the frequent complaint of overheating that was levelled at the original Steam Deck.
E-Switch Video Game Switches
When it comes to gaming controllers, many of our tactile lines are a great fit.
The TL3305 Series ultra-miniature tact switch offers a small footprint of just 4.5 by 4.5 millimeters and can be delivered with an actuator that’s 3.8, 5 or 7 millimeters high while featuring two operating force options: 160gf or 260gf.
Most importantly, it can be mashed 500,000 times.
Of course, you can’t have a gaming controller without a means to navigate your character through the game’s world, and the JS1300 Series five-position navigation switch provides that means.
This switch could also be used to provide characters with at least five different actions all in one switch. In fact, given the many button combinations and button sequences this switch offers, the list of actions that can be programmed is practically endless.
Then there’s the JS1400 Series joystick navigation switch, which has a life expectancy of 100,000 cycles and offers a modest footprint of 7.4 by 7.7 millimeters.
Three actuator heights are also available: 4, 4.5 and 5 millimeters. Silver terminals in either flat gull wing or inverted gull wing designs are also available.