Valve Software updated the Steam In-Home Streaming group page with news that the service is now in open beta. To get this feature up and running, Steam gamers will need to opt into the program and download the Steam beta client dated April 30 or later.
For the uninitiated, Steam gamers can get into this beta by going to Steam/Settings in the Steam client. The Beta Participation section will alert the gamer to all beta programs that are underway, or if the gamer is currently enrolled with one of them.
Next, click on the Change button in the client participation section and select one of the choices available. After that, click OK and then restart the Steam client when prompted. Users are requested to read the release notes before joining a beta test.
The new Stream service is great for gamers who have two computers on the same network, particularly those with one gaming machine and one low-end laptop. That means you can leave the gaming rig locked away in a bedroom, whip out a laptop with HDMI connectivity, and hook it up to the living room TV for big screen action.
"A Windows only game could be streamed from a Windows PC to a Steam Machine running Linux in the living room," states Valve's description. "A graphically intensive game could be streamed from a beefy gaming rig in the office to your low powered laptop that you are using in bed. You could even start a game on one computer and move to a more comfortable location and continue playing it there."
The open beta also means that the Steam client isn't locked to just one computer; you can have Steam logged in and open on multiple machines. That means you can chat with your friends on one computer without having to log off on the other.
As an example of this service, I have Dishonored installed on my AMD gaming machine, but not on my Lenovo convertible notebook. The game is lit up on both machines, but when I choose the laptop, I either have a Stream button in the main panel, or an "install on the machine" button. The same holds true for games installed on the laptop, but not the gaming rig.
The PC requirements include a quad-core CPU and a GPU that supports hardware accelerated H264 decoding installed in the host; the client machine only needs the H264 decoding aspect. For the best experience, Valve recommends a wired connection, but does note that some people have had great success with Wireless N and Wireless AC connections. The streaming experience can also be improved by lowering the resolution and turning off vertical sync on the host.
"In the In-Home Streaming settings you can change a number of things that can affect your experience. You can change your preference for speed vs quality, limit the network bandwidth, and adjust the maximum capture resolution," states the FAQ.