There has been an endless amount of speculation around a Steam games console, and today the world's largest online PC game distributor announced the Piston Steam box at CES. Developed for Steam by Xi3, the box (codenamed Piston) will be able to tap into the Steam service to download thousands of PC based gaming titles.

The box itself is fairly petite, being only marginally larger than a block of cheese. That it can be picked up in one hand also makes ideal for transporting to and from LAN parties. Another key benefit of the Piston's PC DNA will be that gamers can use a mouse keyboard combination or a traditional games controller.

The Piston is powered by Linux, and an AMD Athlon 64 CPU. Its entry level spec does however appear a little light on internal storage with only 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of flash storage. This said, the entry level Piston is a very reasonable US$850.

The Piston's user interface (otherwise known as big picture) has also been optimised for use on big screen HD capable TV. The Piston started off as an unsuccessful Kickstarter project last year, but disappeared without a trace after it gained the backing of Valve (the owner of the steam service).