Steam's Big Picture mode

For everyone who has ever dreamed of being able to play computer games without having to leave the room they watch American Idol in, Valve has created Big Picture, a new mode that optimizes Steam and all of its features for larger-screen TVs.

The beta launches later today (PC-only for now). With it, you can navigate the entire library of Steam games, demos, videos, and community features from your couch. While it still supports keyboard and mouse, Big Picture is specifically tailored to controller use, as evidenced by its new method of inputting text, the Daisywheel. Rather than shoehorn a QWERTY-style keyboard on a controller (like on the Xbox 360), it uses a flower-shaped collection of characters that you select with a control stick and button press. Valve is also catering to controllers with what its touts as “world’s first first-person web browser,” which lets you navigate the Internet with shooter-esque crosshairs, as opposed to a traditional mouse pointer.

Assuming you’ve already installed Steam on your computer, activating Big Picture is as simple as connecting it to your TV with an HDMI cable and then clicking on the Big Picture icon in your Steam client. Valve is still collecting data on which systems work the best, but for now their official site has some guidelines on how to find a suitable computer or set up the one you already have.

For more information, go to the Big Picture site or check out the trailer below.