Valve has made their second announcement of the week, or rather nonannouncement. There is no Steam Box, but Valve has revealed that they're working with hardware manufacturers to create a full line of Steam Machines... for 2014. In the meantime, Valve will be running a small prototype beta for a scant 300 Steam users with their own proprietary hardware. That's just for testing purposes however. I repeat, Valve is not making a Steam Box.
Here's Valve's non-announcement, which is basically an assumption we could have made after Monday's SteamOS reveal:
"Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS."
No further details about the program or partnerships or hardware or whatever is going on were revealed. Valve's announcement is that they aren't doing hardware, but that other manufacturers will be doing that for them in order to provide better options to the general public. Then on top of that, we don't get to hear anything about said hardware or said manufacturers now, and perhaps not even until 2014. Valve, why are you like this?
As for the other part of the announcement, Valve will be offering a limited beta run of their own prototype hardware to 300 randomly selected gamers. How do you add your name to the list of potential winners? Why, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and unlock a badge in Steam, of course! For full instructions head over to the Steam Machines website.
With Steam Machines from various hardware manufacturers available starting in 2014, and all of the features SteamOS is claiming to make available, can these products be competitive without the Valve name and seal approval stamped on them? A single, standalone box might compete directly with consoles, but a variety of Steam Machines, well, that's just creating competition between itself and PCs already in the market for the living room.
Gah, I'm just all flustered Valve didn't announce a Steam Box. What a lost opportunity!