The Ouya team generated quite a buzz last year when they promised to deliver a hackable, Android-powered video game console for $99. Almost a year later, and after raising millions of dollars through a successful crowd-funding campaign and outside investors, the team has delivered on its promise… sort of.
You can now buy an Ouya game console from Amazon, Best Buy, Target, or the Ouya website for $99.99, among other places (although Amazon is already out of stock). But early reviews of the device have been mixed, at best — and some backers of the company’s Kickstarter campaign are still waiting for their units to arrive.
The Ouya is a small box with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It comes with a wireless controller, and connects to your TV via HDMI and to the internet over WiFi or Ethernet.
While the Tegra 3 was pretty much the best available ARM-based chip available when the Ouya project was announced, it’s starting to look a little dated. But it’s still possible to run many excellent Android apps on a Tegra 3-powered device, and Ouya says there are 170 games available for the game console at launch.
Folks who’ve been testing the platform, on the other hand, say there are few particularly good games at the moment — unless you count emulators, which let you play classic console games.
Early testers also had problems with buttons sticking on the wireless controller, but Ouya has promised to fix those problems before the retail launch, so hopefully the new controllers are better.
Some folks have also complained about slow or unresponsive customer support, although arguably people who received units after backing the Kickstare campaign aren’t “customers,” so much as funders. But you’d think the company would want to keep happy the people who were enthusiastic enough to pay for a device that might never see the light of day.
You can also use an Ouya as a media center device — eventually it’s expected to support the XBMC media center. For now you can install a few media apps from the Ouya store including TuneIn Radio and Plex.
But if you’re looking to use the device primarily as a game console, it sounds like the Ouya platform shows promise… but might not deliver on all that promise just yet. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive Android-powered device that comes with a wireless controller and which you can root or otherwise modify, $100 isn’t a lot of money for a device with these features.
Update: Android Police has a detailed review of the final hardware. While the UI performance is better than the game controller seems to be improved, they’re still unimpressed with the overall package.