Steam is the standard way to play games on your PC, but the company offers others. In particular, the Steam Link device allows you to stream games from your computer to your TV.

As another option, Valve introduced the Steam Link app for Android in 2018. While being able to play PC games on your smartphone sounds exciting, we don’t think it’s as great as it sounds. That’s why

What is a Steam Link?

The Steam Link is a physical device that Valve sells for $50. It connects to your TV via HDMI and your home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and then streams Steam games from your computer to your TV. This is handy if you want to play games from the comfort of your couch; We have previously covered how to set up Steam Link. if you have.

The Steam Link app performs basically the same function, minus the free one. All you need is a computer running Steam, a compatible Android phone, and an internet connection. Notably, the app is not available for iOS due to Apple’s recommendations.

But is it worth installing the Steam Link Android app of your time? No, given these four factors:

1. Small screens are not great for gaming.


Presumably you have a monitor that is at least 20 inches for your desktop. And if you’re playing on a laptop, you might have a 13-inch or 15-inch display. Thanks to the Steam Link, you’ll be able to experience the same games on a tiny 6-inch (or smaller) phone screen. It doesn’t look like fun.

The best Android games take advantage of small phone displays, but playing PC games on your phone doesn’t offer that luxury. While most games should look decent, there is a significant graphical downgrade here. It’s a bit like watching a movie on the tiny screen of an airplane seat; it’s doable, but not the ideal way to enjoy a movie.

This is not a problem with the proper Steam Link, as it connects to your 40″ TV. Of course, you can use the Steam Link app on an Android tablet for a larger display. But tablets aren’t as popular as they used to be, so it costs a few hundred dollars to play games on another device if you don’t already have a tablet.

2. You lose keyboard and mouse control

Most PC gamers swear by the keyboard and mouse. They are objectively better for first-person shooters and also make sense for many other genres. However, the Steam Link app does not support keyboard and mouse combination.

As you go through the setup, you can choose between a Steam controller, another Bluetooth controller, or touch controls (more on that later). You can try connecting a keyboard to your Android phone. but that involves buying a clumsy adapter.

Also, even if you have a keyboard and mouse connected to your phone, there is still a lag issue. Most games require a high level of precision from the mouse, which is not possible when streaming games over the network.

Many games have controller support, so you should stick to them if you plan on using the Steam Link app. For some people, this will severely limit their library and app’s usefulness.


3. Internet connection problems


Not surprisingly, the Steam Link app has several requirements for your network connection, with specifications as precise as video games. Your phone and computer must be on the same network, so it’s not possible to play on the go.

Steam also recommends using a wired connection, which is not possible on an Android phone or tablet. For wireless use, a 5GHz network is recommended. While it has less congestion than the 2.4GHz network, it also has a shorter range. This limits how far from your router you can play games.

If your computer is not yet connected to the network, you can forget about using this application. Perhaps you have a laptop without an Ethernet port, or you need to use Wi-Fi on your desktop due to your home setup. In any case, the Steam Link will be practically unplayable due to the delay.


Obviously this will depend on your setup. But some potential issues mean that many people will find the Steam Link unusable or unsatisfactory due to network issues. Steam even says that Powerline adapters (a common solution to Wi-Fi issues) can have interference issues.

4. Touch controls are rubbish

Steam Link Sensors

We mentioned earlier that the lack of keyboard and mouse control is likely to detract from the experience for many. Without them, you can connect a Bluetooth controller or use touch controls.

If you already have a Steam controller or other Bluetooth-enabled controller, that’s great. (We showed you how to connect a PS3 controller to Android. Android. if not). But if you don’t have one of those controllers, you’ll either have to spend some money on one or settle for touch controls.

If you’ve never tried them before, the touch controls are terrible. They are suitable for slow RPGs like Pokemon, but not much else. Any game that uses multiple buttons or requires precise movement will quickly become obsolete on touch controls. In addition, they clutter up the screen.


What do you think of the Steam Link app?

We don’t want to completely eliminate the Steam Link app. It’s definitely a great tool, and Valve is making it available for free, which is great. However, it does require you to jump through a few hoops to achieve a gameplay that is actually quite enjoyable, creating more trouble than it’s worth for most people.

If you don’t have additional peripherals and are using a wireless connection, the Steam Link app out of the box delivers slow gameplay on a small screen with poor controls. You will need to spend time and money to resolve this situation, at which point you will wonder if it was worth it. You may even decide not to use Steam fully.

Why not just play your games on the computer as they are meant to be fun? There you have a big screen, proper controls and lag-free gameplay.

If you don’t like Steam Link, these other ways to stream games from your PC to your TV might be worth taking a look at. And remember to stay connected with other players; see our comparison of Discord and Steam Chat

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