The Steam Deck is a fun device to own. It’s a great way to play those previous generation games you missed out on, and it can handle many current AAA titles too. But the good times aren’t limited to games.
With great speakers and a solid screen, the Steam Deck isn’t a bad way to watch movies or listen to podcasts. With the right cover, it can also stand upright on a table like a mini TV. So why not use it for multimedia? If you want, here are the apps you need.
VLC really needs no introduction. This venerable media player can handle any video or audio file format. The app has been around for decades and is well known on Windows, macOS, Linux desktops and even Android. It also works on your Steam Deck.
If you just want to click on video files you have lying around on your Deck’s internal storage, VLC will do the job. But if you want to watch your videos with an app that doesn’t look like it was designed around the time of Y2K, then VLC isn’t for you.
Haruna is a video player designed for KDE Plasma, the desktop interface that comes with your Steam Deck. While Haruna doesn’t have a cutting-edge design, it’s more minimalist than VLC and fits in slightly better with other KDE apps.
Chances are that Haruna will play the desired video file. It also has a sidebar that can list all the videos in your current folder, so you don’t have to open your file manager to watch the next video in a series.
The experience of watching YouTube in a web browser isn’t the most ideal. It sometimes takes a while for the web page to load before you can start searching, and there’s a steady stream of popups and interruptions once your video starts. Google also tracks your search terms and what you view.
PlasmaTube is a YouTube desktop client that dramatically speeds up the experience. You don’t need to open a browser. You don’t have to navigate to YouTube. And if you are going to watch a video, chances are it will load faster.
Since PlasmaTube loads videos using Invidious, a YouTube front-end that requires no login, privacy is also baked in. This approach actually gives you more privacy than telling YouTube not to track your activity within your Google settings.
If you tend to visit YouTube for music more than anything else, then AudioTube might just be a preferred desktop client for you. This app loads songs from YouTube but arranges everything in a music library. You can save your favorite artists and build your own collection.
As the name suggests, AudioTube may focus on audio, but the experience is not limited to sounds. You can also access music videos within the same app, a nice perk you’re less likely to find in an offline music player.
There are advantages to having your own collection of downloaded MP3s. You are not dependent on internet access. You can listen to your songs on any device or app you want. If you already have a large music library, be sure to check out Elisa.
Elisa has become KDE’s main music player. It has a stylish look and a complete feature set. Unless you want a barebones music player, Elisa will probably do what you want.
If you prefer an easier way to get to your music, consider Amberol. To play your songs, drag them from the file manager to the app window. Or open them with the Open knob. Either works.
Each file you open is added to the playlist, which you can rearrange as you wish. That’s about it. Amberol does not manage a library or edit tags or anything like that. It just plays your music and looks good.
Amberol is a GNOME app, but the docked interface probably won’t stand out on your KDE Plasma desktop.
Maybe you want a music player that’s simpler than Elisa, but want to stay within the KDE ecosystem. That’s a good place for Vvave to slide in.
Vvave automatically scans your music folder to detect audio files. You can then click on any of these songs to add them to your playlist. At this point the experience becomes very similar to Amberol. You can have the window show your playlist on the side, or you can shrink things down until you have a minimal view of just album artwork and playback controls.
Okay, enough of the music. What about podcasts? Kasts has got you covered. You can search for your favorite podcasts directly in the app, or add RSS feeds manually.
Kasts allows you to set up your own play queue and customize it as needed. The interface scales up and down depending on the size of the window, making it easy to keep the window all the way to the side as you work. And if you prefer to adjust the playback speed because some hosts talk very slowly, you can do that too.
While Kasts may be a desktop client, you don’t have to sacrifice the ability to sync with other devices. You can save your playback position across devices using gpodder.net or gPodder’s Nextcloud integration.
Enjoy your deck even when you’re not gaming
On your Steam Deck you can watch movies, follow influencers, keep up with musicians and record your favorite podcasts. With such a diverse range of apps, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Valve’s handheld even when you’re not gaming.
By the way, the Deck is not limited to entertainment. You can use the device as a full-fledged PC, suitable for office work or to help you type a school paper. So if you’ve already bought a dock for gaming on a bigger screen, here’s another way to put that peripheral to good use.