A Steam Deck, seen from the rear, leans back on its attached Deckmate kickstand.

Photograph: Kotaku

Whereas the Steam Deck, Valve’s souped-up mini PC, gives a wealth of gaming experiences in a conveyable format, the dearth of a kickstand has been a sore spot. Enter the Deckmate: A easy, plastic bracket that allows you to connect not only a very helpful kickstand, but additionally a number of different specialised mounting options to the again of the Deck.

The Deckmate is the brainchild of product design engineer Siri Ramos. Ramos has described how the Steam Deck neighborhood’s enthusiasm and help has helped them develop what was as soon as a enjoyable private undertaking into a totally featured product. To make sure, the neighborhood’s love for small maker-style initiatives is obvious simply from scrolling by r/SteamDeck. The Deckmate developed from a collection of prototypes and early 3D-printed elements to a professional-feeling last product. Now having used it for a couple of weeks, it appears like a really pure extension of my Deck, one with a couple of surprises of its personal.

On the heart of the Deckmate “system,” because the creator calls it, is the “grip,” a easy plastic claw that, nicely, grips the again of the mini-PC like a headcrab on a poor zombie. And like that headcrab, this can be a fairly seamless attachment, one which doesn’t intervene with the system’s inventory protecting case. The grip can even maintain two spare SD playing cards, and like a headcrab, is prone to wish to keep the place you set it. I’ve transferred it to a different Steam Deck simply as soon as, and bending the plastic again to get it off appears like one thing I solely wish to do a handful of occasions at most.

The clips are seen on the highest and backside of the machine when it from the entrance, however the colour and texture of the plastic blends in nicely with the Deck. I hardly discover it anymore, and don’t really feel it with my fingers when enjoying.

A Steam Deck with the Deckmate grip attached lays facedown in the case.

The “grip” bracket snaps on snugly and offers the attachment level for all the things else.
Photograph: Kotaku

The grip bracket itself doesn’t do a lot. As an alternative, it permits for a wide range of “mounts” to fit into the again of the machine. These lock into place with a pair of springs. Obtainable mounts embrace that remarkably helpful kickstand, “pucks” with adhesives to lock a battery or USB-C hub, wall mounts, and even a 75mm VESA mount such as you see on the backs of PC screens.

Whereas I used one in all my pucks for a helpful USB-C hub that allowed me to plug in a wide range of USB units together with an ethernet cable to hurry up downloads, the kickstand felt most important to me.

You may not suppose a lot of a kickstand; it’s a really primary machine and idea. However given the dimensions and weight of the Steam Deck, having the ability to connect one to the again has been type of like rising a 3rd arm, particularly when enjoying on a sofa or mattress.

This dawned on me once I determined to fireside up Spider-Man: Remastered one evening. Laying in mattress, with the kickstand in place, I might simply relaxation the machine in entrance of me to look at the opening cutscene, then decide it up once I was prepared to begin swinging round Manhattan island. That won’t appear so revelatory when you haven’t put in too many hours on a Deck, so let me give some context.

The Steam Deck sits upright with a kickstand from the Deckmate.

The Deckmate is appropriate with the solar, although I’m not.
Photograph: Kotaku

The Steam Deck is about as heavy because it seems. It’s a giant machine! And enjoying for prolonged intervals of time, not less than for me, kinda makes my fingers get prickly after which, numb. Having the ability to set it down with the display nonetheless dealing with me and provides my fingers a break throughout non-interactive cutscenes has allowed me to spend extra time gaming. The kickstand additionally has a pleasant quantity of adjustment. It could possibly transfer a full 120 levels, and it by no means appears like that notoriously flimsy piece of junk connected to the Nintendo Change, which all the time appeared to threaten to snap proper off. The Deckmate kickstand can also be best for setting the unit down on a desk and connecting a keyboard.

Learn Extra: Sure, You Can Use The Steam Deck As A Pc (Right here’s How)

One surprising profit includes the Deck’s excessive warmth output. Having the ability to prop it up with the exhaust fan pointing in a extra vertical route appears like a greater technique to set the machine down whereas it’s downloading one thing or enjoying a graphically intensive cutscene. If Reddit’s to be believed, there may additionally be aromatherapeutic advantages to take pleasure in.

One other stunning use of the kickstand was that, whereas laying in mattress or on a sofa, I might type of use it like a monopole, letting it help extra of the load of the machine. In consequence, my fingers weren’t doing the work of each enjoying the machine and holding it. General, the Deckmate with the kickstand accent has simply made the Deck a extra cozy machine for me.

Although I discovered the kickstand to be the star of the present, others may discover extra utility in mounting additional equipment onto the adhesive pucks. Because the Deckmate’s web site warns, the adhesive used on these pucks is nearly everlasting. So if you wish to adhere a giant battery pack or USB hub or no matter, remember that you just’re creating a reasonably everlasting bond between the puck attachment and the accent. They’re going to be pals for all times.

The rear of a Steam Deck shows off a USB-C hub held in place with the Deckmate puck mount.

I’ve obtained so much occurring again there now.
Photograph: Kotaku

A few different caveats exist. If in case you have some sort of smartphone-style case wrapped round your Deck, thereby growing its thickness, the bottom grip bracket in all probability gained’t match round it. Fortuitously, a Deckmate adapter that sports activities the identical 3M adhesive because the pucks gives an alternate means by which to lock the grip to the again of a third-party case. It might be not possible to resolve conflicts with sure docks, although. Whereas the Deckmate’s FAQ appears very optimistic about it becoming into one thing like a JSAUX dock, I discovered the grip bracket was only a bit too huge and made it unstable when sitting in my dock.

You may as well solely use one mount at a time, so if you wish to each use the kickstand and cost the machine with an exterior battery, you’ll have to decide on which is getting connected to the machine. Granted, when you’re utilizing the kickstand, you in all probability have a flat floor to relaxation that battery down anyway.

The Steam Deck sits next to various Deckmate attachments. The cord on the side shows signs of an iffy Photoshop.

The Steam Deck, with the grip connected, sits subsequent to numerous Deckmate attachments (the right-most puck is adhered to a generic USB-C hub).
Photograph: Kotaku

Critically, when you’re utilizing a USB-C hub, you must pay cautious consideration to cable size, particularly when making the ultimate resolution to stick a puck to the hub. In my case, I believe I adhered the puck just a little too low on my hub, and in consequence, the USB-C cable has a bit an excessive amount of pressure when reaching all the best way as much as my Deck’s single USB-C port. I’m probably going to attempt to reposition this, however provided that the adhesive is a one-time use factor, I’m in all probability going to must get artistic. Ethical of the story: Measure your cable lengths and make use of right-angle adapters the place it is smart.

As soon as indifferent, the kickstand and any puck-equipped units will simply match within the storage case the Deck comes with. You’ll be able to simply tuck it into that compartment on the underside that many a Steam Deck consumer has discovered artistic makes use of for. That stated, in case your accent wants lengthen to a gamepad, keyboard, and but different different peripherals, you’ll want a bigger bag. For these occasions you wish to journey mild, you may simply detach the Deckmate mounts and go away the barely noticeable “grip” bracket.

Deckmate parts fit snugly in the underside compartment of the Steam Deck's stock case.

Deckmate elements match snugly within the underside compartment of the Steam Deck’s inventory case.
Photograph: Kotaku

When you simply wish to get the kickstand, you’ll want the grip bracket, which runs for $20, after which the kickstand mount itself for an additional $15. Particular person pucks are $7 every. You may as well choose to purchase the “Whole System,” which incorporates the grip, two pucks, the VESA mount, a wall mount, and the case-agnostic adapter for $49. Whilst you can actually discover cheaper kickstand choices on Amazon and elsewhere, the Deckmate system feels sturdy and dependable. Sitting the Deck down with the Deckmate kickstand, it by no means feels prefer it’s going to topple over (so long as the angle is about proper). Its dimension and construct high quality really feel like a very good match for the Deck itself.

You may as well go the DIY route by downloading the Deckmate’s digital recordsdata and print them your self. I think about it’s going to take some trial and error, however the recordsdata are free and distributed, as all issues ought to be, below a Inventive Commons license.

General, the Deckmate, significantly with its kickstand, is a good Steam Deck accent that expands the place (and the way) I can play video games on it. It’s top quality, seems good, and meshes properly with the DIY spirit of the machine. Hopefully we’ll see extra distinctive, high quality initiatives of this type because the Deck settles into the broader panorama of gaming {hardware}.

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