A few hours ago, I received an email from Steam informing me that I am now part of the In-Home-Streaming Beta.

I immediately installed Steam for Linux on my rather old ThinkPad T60, which has an Intel GMA950 that has scared away some of the more demanding games in the past.

After a few minutes of confusion, during which I didn’t realize that both computers needed to have the Steam client on the “Beta” update (otherwise, the In-Home-Streaming settings say “disconnected”), my computers connected and I had a few new “playable” titles in my library.

However, the button under the game name did not say “Play,” but rather “Stream.”

When I pressed the “Stream” button, knowing that my ThinkPad was only connected through our Wi-Fi, nothing happened for a few seconds until Portal 2 actually opened on my desktop computer.

On my ThinkPad, I could only see something from the “Valve” logo onwards, but it was already running quite smoothly and with very little latency.

When I started playing, it was quite laggy. The control of the game character was delayed by about a quarter of a second, but the control in Portal 2 still worked perfectly. In time-critical games like Call of Duty or Left 4 Dead, it might not have been the case.

Then I had the idea to connect my ThinkPad to my Gigabit switch. The first attempt didn’t go so well because only the sound was being streamed and Steam froze, but after restarting Steam it worked much smoother and almost in real-time.

I think I reached the limits of my ThinkPad while streaming, as the diagnostic screen often displayed the warning “slow decode”, and I also noticed that the streaming lag increased as I moved more in the game, or as more changes occurred in the displayed image.

This is not surprising, as the compressed video is smaller when there are fewer changes in the image being displayed.

I also made a video of the gameplay. However, decoding (and therefore the game itself) runs much slower than usual in the video, due to the recording software.

My first impression of Steam In-Home Streaming is definitely positive.

It’s impressive that you can stream such content with so little delay (I’m still thinking about VNC, which lags even with games over gigabit). In this regard, I give a big thumbs up to Valve and a thank you for quickly including me in the beta (I had to wait about a week).

In the next few days, I will connect my ThinkPad, or a more powerful laptop, to the TV with a controller and see if it plays just as well.

Note: I found this post in an archive of my old blogs and decided to republish it here