Xi3 has announced that pre-orders for their tiny Steam-powered PC console, the Piston, officially kicked off on Friday. The list price for the “grapefruit-size” PC starts at $999.99 for the basic 128 gig solid-state drive model, with 8 gigs of RAM and a 3.2 Ghz quad-core processor. Gamers wanting to go for broke, can opt to increase the solid-state drive to a whopping 512 gigs for an additional $750, bringing up their total cost to a mere $1,749.99.
The company also announced a limited promotion timed with the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. All pre-orders placed between now and the end of SXSW on March 17, 2013 will get $100 knocked off the list price of the Piston. Regardless of if you take advantage of the $100 savings or not, the units are currently expected to ship to buyers “in time for the 2013 Holiday Season” — which would seem to put the Piston PC console on a head-to-head launch battle with the PlayStation 4 and next generation Xbox.
“Given the amount of awards, media attention and gamer interest the Piston console has generated since it was unveiled at CES 2013 in January, we’ve become seriously concerned that we will not be able to meet the demand for Piston consoles this year,” said Jason A. Sullivan, president, CEO, and founder of Xi3 Corporation. “That’s why we have decided to begin accepting pre-orders on our Piston console, beginning today with the start of the SXSW Gaming Expo. Gaming Expo attendees will also get the benefit of being the first to see the Piston console in action.”
Xi3 first announced the Piston console earlier this year at CES, where it was revealed that Valve was providing funding for the console. Despite Valve’s involvement, the Piston is not “the” Steam Box console that Gabe Newell’s company is planning to release a prototype of later this year, but simply another living room/gaming PC that is centered around the Steam service.
It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to Xi3’s Piston. The company is certainly asking a hefty price for the little box, and there will likely be stiff competition coming from Sony, Microsoft, and eventually even Valve’s own Steam Box. Can the Piston hold its own in the market place, or will it quickly get shoved aside? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.