Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Steam Deck just got a dual-touchpad keyboard and some much-needed fixes

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Did I speak too early? Two days into my month-long check-in with the Steam Deck portable gaming PC, Valve has already addressed some of the most annoying issues I’ve mentioned.

In a few updates, one in the stable channel and one currently only available in beta (full changelogs there), Valve has:

  • Added a dual trackpad keyboard so I can type two letters at once with my thumbs instead of chasing and pecking
  • Finally added a full size virtual keyboard to Linux desktop mode, so you probably don’t need to plug it in (previously you could alone call there the old dual trackpad keyboard from 2015, but the new one also does touch and gamepad)
  • Fixed the wifi so that it connects and reconnects automatically without asking you to re-enter the password it already saved (it also seems to reconnect to the Steam servers faster which was an issue for me)

You can now also manually adjust your joystick dead zones and trackpad haptic strength, and there’s a slew of USB-C fixes in the new BIOS, as some owners had complained of charging or connecting issues or even freezing. of their decks when connecting to certain USB-C devices. For example, you can: hold now”Reduce volume to retry the USB-C Power Delivery handshake of the deck, and Liam on GamingOnLinux says it does its job† Oh, and you can now unlock your framerate (if you hate battery life) instead of locking it to 60 or 30 or 15 fps. Uncapped has not been an option since the Steam Deck first launched.

Joystick dead zones, now at your fingertips.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The new keyboard is instantly a better experience for me, but I still like it a bit less compared to the original dual trackpad: it’s a bit hard to get to some letters, and this version has no autocomplete suggestions . I hope Valve will add voice typing and swiping across the row, but for now it’s fine. (By the way, you can long-press letters to get accents on them, in case you didn’t know.)

The new keyboard also works on the Linux desktop.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

There’s also fTPM support so you can install Windows 11, although I’ve heard that may have slipped in a previous beta. And while Valve doesn’t mention it in the changelogs, I also see the option to restart the Steam Client from the power menu if you run into bugs – previously I had restarted the entire Steam Deck, which takes longer.

Not sure I’ll be able to confirm some of Valve’s other fixes anytime soon, like better SD card compatibility, but there’s another one I’m looking forward to tonight: “Updated power LED to show a few seconds after power dimming deliver connection events for a better experience in dark environments.” I may no longer have to cover the Steam Deck if I leave it charging on the nightstand.

And last but not least, GamingOnLinux reports that, with a few tweaksyou can now play GeForce Now in Chrome for Linux on the deck with gamepad support instead of having to emulate a mouse and keyboard, as Google released a version that can detect the deck’s gamepad.

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