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Valve's Steam streaming service lets you play games on the toilet

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Games maker Valve has launched Steam In-Home Streaming, a new service that allows Steam subscribers to view and play games that are running on their primary PCs on devices located anywhere in their homes.

"When you log into Steam on two computers on the same network, they automatically connect, allowing you to remotely install, launch, and play games as though you were sitting at the remote PC," Valve's page announcing the new feature explains.

Because the games are still running on the player's primary PC, the system will allows players to play resource-gobbling games on lower-end hardware.

The connection happens virtually instantly, Valve says, meaning players can get up from their chairs mid-game, move to another computer in another room – perhaps, say, someplace more private – and resume playing right where they left off.

The new feature is available immediately to all Steam users, but there are a few limitations. For one thing, you'll need the Steam Client Beta to get it working.

For another, only PCs running Windows Vista or later can be used as hosts to stream games. Streaming from Linux or OS X hosts is not yet supported, and from the sound of it, streaming from Windows XP never will be.

Supported clients systems include Windows, OS X, Linux, and SteamOS, but Valve says "support for more systems is coming soon." We take this to mean that you'll be able to stream games to tablets running Android and/or iOS in the future, but Valve hasn't said anything definite.

The company recommends using a PC with a minimum of a quad-core processor for hosting games, and client systems ideally should have GPUs that support hardware-accelerated H.264 video decoding.

Streaming works best over a wired network, but Valve says some players have had success using 802.11n Wi-Fi. Streaming over the internet is right out, however – so don't expect this system to let you stream your Steam games to your laptop at work. ®

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