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TECHNOLOGY

April 23rd, 2013

Console on the cheap, games on the free with $99 Ouya (hands-on)

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uya is a small cubed-shape video game console running on Android and powered by a Tegra 3 CPU. For $99 you get the console and one controller. There's no physical media to speak of, and all games must be either downloaded directly to the system or side-loaded.
Every Ouya console doubles as a game development kit. You can create your own games and publish them in the Ouya store for free.

Design and hardware
The Ouya is a gray and black box that weighs 10.7 ounces and is small enough to fit into the palm of my hand. It features a combination of smooth embossed aluminum and glossy plastic, and its body is tapered slightly at the bottom. A circular power button sits on the top and glows with a dim white LED Ouya logo when powered on. The power button is surrounded by four unobstructed screws resting in each of the device’s four corners, allowing tinkerers to easily remove the top plate and access the system’s innards.

Those innards include an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a full USB port, and a Micro-USB connection. Internally there’s 8GB of storage (expandable through the aforementioned full USB port), 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and support for 5.1 sound. All games and apps must be either downloaded directly to the device or installed via external storage. During my demo, the system ran as silently as a tablet; however, I've yet to test how hot it gets after several hours of play.

As for horsepower, Ouya's specs resemble that of a near top of the line Android tablet, like the Asus Transformer Infinity TF700. For its brains, Ouya uses a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU, with each core running at 1.6GHz. With a 12-core ULP GeForce GPU, don’t expect Xbox 360 or PS3 levels of performance, but something more akin to what Android tablet users currently experience.

The controller
Ouya’s controller closely resembles the design of the Xbox 360’s but with slightly longer handles on either side, giving it a more boomerang-like look. Like the 360 controller, the left analog stick sits in the upper-left corner, with the eight-directional cross-design D-pad about an inch lower and to the right. The right analog stick is about an inch directly to the right of the D-pad. Each analog stick features a slightly convex shape, with a subtle rubber grip texture on top. Each stick is "clickable" as well.

Face buttons are color-coded and laid out in a typical diamond shape with each cleverly corresponding with the letters in Ouya. The home button is located between the D-pad and right analog, and when pressed once, brings up an Xbox-style menu overlay. Two quick presses takes you back to home screen interface with absolutely no loading, just like a tablet. A refreshing change from the Xbox or PS3, which take several seconds to do the same. A thick black stripe runs down the middle of the controller, equally segmenting the right and left sides. At the top of the stripe are four small LED lights that designate which player (one through four) the controller currently responds to.

READ MORE ON OUYA WEBSITE

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