Here's the problem with letting a bunch of different PC manufacturers make something and use a brand like "Steam Machines" – you are going to get some wildly different products and price ranges that can be pretty darned costly for rank and file consumers whose last names aren't "Rockefeller," "Bloomberg," "Trump," etc. That's what is happening with Alienware's version(s) of the Steam Machine.
The company said recently in an interview that its Steam Machines, much like a console, won't be upgradeable. Being how pricey we suspect they will be it's hard to compare them to a console at all. So what is Alienware's solution? They will release a new Steam Machine every year.
Alienware general manager Frank Azor explained to Trusted Reviews in a recent interview that his company is adopting the iPad and iPhone model for its Steam Machines, with plans to release a new spiffier version on an annual basis.
"Lifecycle-wise, consoles update every five, six, seven years, we will be updating our Steam Machines every year," Azor said. "The platform will continue to evolve as the games become more resource intensive."
"There will be some configuration options when you purchase it," he continued, "maybe you can get a faster CPU, maybe some more memory something like that." But, when it comes to getting new parts into the machine, "there will be no customization options, you can't really update it."
Azor went on to say that if users are looking for something to tinker with they should consider buying one of Alienware's regular PC offerings.
Of course, you could simply build your own high end machine, slap SteamOS on it, and buy Valve's controller separately, saving yourself thousands of dollars…
It should be noted that Alienware has not put a price tag on its Steam Machines, but given the company's pricing range on its current line of PCs it will cost a pretty penny or two. You can check out the company's FAQ on the topic here.
We'll have more on this story as it develops.