Update: Several hours after SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik he tweeted about a possible Steam handheld console, Ars Technica cited several sources who said Valve is working on a portable gaming device and has been running it for some time, and that it could even be released before the end of 2021.
According to Ars, the unit will be a kind of Nintendo Switch model on a PC, with a touch screen, game controls and "chip system" architecture designed by Intel or AMD. According to the report, the unit is still in the prototype phase and therefore some functions could change, but at least one prototype device is wider than a switch in order to accommodate a large number of control options (all and which is apparently not a small one on the QWERTY keyboard).
According to reports, SteamPal devices – which is not yet an official name – will run on Linux, reminiscent of Valve memories Steam Machines initiative failed. But this is aimed at a very different type of market that currently does not offer many options to consumers: there are many laptops for gaming available (here is the list of the best), but in general they are very expensive and hellish more hardware than you need it if you just want to blow up a few levels of Super Meat Boy in the back of your Uber.
At this time, there is not enough information to make any predictions about how the SteamPal effort will ultimately work: what kind of hardware will be built, how it will handle the transmission, and of course the big one, what it will cost. Nor is it guaranteed that any of these uses will hit the market, although the launch of the Valve Index VR headphones shows that Valve has the ability to make these things happen when it really wants to.
The Ars report seems final, but we haven't confirmed the details yet: there has been no official word from Valve about SteamPal devices in one way or another. I have contacted Valve for more information and will update if I receive a response.
The latest beta client version of Steam from Valve has pointed to the possibility of a future version of hardware, with suggestions that it will be a handheld console.
SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik has tweeted on another appearance of a project codenamed Neptune. The name made its first appearance in September, but this update combined it with references to "SteamPal" and "SteamPal Games" (thank you, VGC). Djundik also pointed to references to a quick access menu and an energy menu. There are also channels related to low battery notification, Bluetooth and airplane switching, and the options to restart, turn off and suspend …something.
Djundik says he considers all strings found in the update they relate to Neptune, concluding that Valve could manufacture a steam handheld console. It’s also not a crazy suggestion, especially considering that a good amount of strings relate to things you’ll often find on a handheld device.
This update also added a "quick access menu" and a "power menu". I get the feeling of all these “Neptune” related chains: https://t.co/Ih0K2y4E5AIs Valve making a Steam handheld console?May 25, 2021
It all comes down to a close gabe-free talk by Gabe Newell at a New Zealand high school earlier this month. When a student at Sancta Maria College asked Newell if Steam games would ever come to the console, he replied, "By the end of this year, you'll have a better idea and it won't be the answer you've been waiting for."