Being cheapo desis, we started salivating when the $99 Ouya game console launched last week.
Such was the demand that the consoles quickly disappeared from shelves within hours. We had to wait a couple of days before our online order was fulfilled.
Since picking up the console yesterday, we’ve been trying out the various features.
For $99, you get a console, a wireless controller (Bluetooth based) and an HDMI cable to connect the console to the TV.
The Ouya console is small (the Best Buy sales rep correctly described it as a bit bigger than a Rubik’s Cube).
It has HDML, USB, Ethernet, micro-USB and power slots (scroll down for picture).
The Ouya device is powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage (actually 7GB or less because some storage is taken by system software).
A custom version of Android constitutes the software underpinnings of the Ouya.
SI’s Ouya Gaming Console – $99
Set Up – WiFi Issues
We encountered difficulties in setting up our console.
The early parts of connecting it to the TV, pairing the wireless controller and hooking the console to the Internet (via WiFi) went through in a jiffy. There was even a quick update to the console’s software.
And then came the glitches.
Ouya Wireless Controller (Left) and Console (Right) in the Box
We hit a big bump and got stuck at the registration stage because serious WiFi connectivity issues cropped up (since our modem is in a different room, there’s no question of using the Ethernet slot).
Finally, in desperation we switched off the modem and then pulled the cable from the modem to our router for about two-minutes. Next, we also switched off the WiFi in the console (via the controller) and turned it on again after a few seconds.
One or all of our desperate measures did the trick because from then on it was smooth sailing.
Keep in mind that registration requires you to add your credit card details (to ensure payment for paid games).
By the way, when it came to installing the batteries in the wireless controller we were stumped.
Thank God for YouTube. Use your nails to remove the controller handles on both sides from the bottom piece to insert the batteries (one on each side).
Neither the Ouya web site nor the slim manual that comes in the box are user-friendly when it comes to helping newbies.
HDMI (top left) , USB (below), Micro-USB, Ethernet & Power Slots
Just so you know, we’re playing with the Ouya on our 40-inch Samsung 720p LCD TV.
Not the latest and greatest of TVs but it’ll do.
After you have set up the console, your TV screen lists four options – Play, Discover (find games and apps), Make (build games through the ODK) and Manage (for settings like storage, WiFi etc)
Downloading the games via the Discover tab on the console is a breeze. Except for one game (ShadowGun), the rest (like Valet Parking) took less than a minute.
Some games are free while others are trial only and require a paid upgrade.
Even to our untrained eye (vis-a-vis video games), some of the games looked dated (Retro look??) and un-slick. Presumably, they’ll improve as more indie developers jump on aboard.
The wireless controller features two thumbsticks, a directional pad, a touchpad, four face buttons, two bumpers and two rear triggers.
In our initial testing, the controller responded well.
People familiar with gaming systems say the Ouya controller is similar to the Xbox 360 controller.
Since we’re new to the gaming arena, our scores on all the games we tried our hand(s) at were most embarrassing!
Apps – Hindi, Tamil Songs
There are seven or eight apps in the console.
We found only one suited to our taste.
And that was the TuneIn app, which lets us stream a gazillion radio stations from around the world.
We listened to news from 1010Wins (a NYC station) and Bloomberg, and streamed Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English songs from radio stations around the world.
Thanks to TuneIn, we listened to an old Kishore Kumar favorite – O Hansini and a lovely Tamil number Poonthenil Kalanthu (from the movie Yenippadikal).
You can also listen to Hindi, Tamil and Telugu radio stations in the U.S., UK, Poland, Singapore, New Zealand and wherever there are desis.
TuneIn lets you “Favorite” radio stations you enjoy.
We “Favorited” a Singapore Oli FM 96.8 Tamil station, Kiss FM, Awaaz FM (UK) and a couple of NYC radio stations.
At first glance, the Ouya game console seems like it’s not a bad deal for $99.
Since I’ve not played with the PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendi Wii, I cannot tell you how the Ouya compares with the big boys.
But it’s safe to say the Ouya is not in the same league and won’t come with the same number of games. According to the the Ouya web site, there are about 200 games now.
I suspect as many buyers snap up the Ouya console, more developers will clamber aboard the console boosting the breadth and quality of games and apps.
There are still supply constraints with the Ouya and you might have to wait for a few days to get your hands on a unit.
In the U.S., Target, Best Buy and Amazon are the main retailers peddling Ouya (it’s currently not available in India at the moment).
Do let me know your experience with Ouya!