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Jun 292013
 




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.

Ouya Game ConsoleSI’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 Game ConsoleOuya 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.

Ouya Game Console SlotsHDMI (top left) , USB (below), Micro-USB, Ethernet & Power Slots

Console Functioning

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.

Bottom Line

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!

  2 Responses to “$99 Ouya Console Ain’t a Bad Deal”

  1. Does Ouya support the games played in PS 3, Xbox platform etc?

    I am not a huge fan of Xbox.

    The advantage of PS 3 is that they also play Bluray discs.

    I’ve played PS 3 at a friends’. I can’t use PlayStation 3 on my flat screen due to it having only 2 ports/HDMI inputs. I assume there should be a way to fix it in the form of a HDMI splitter if there is one? If I do use it (splitter) I wonder if it might mess up the original configuration on my flat screen TV.

    I have the option of fixing it by getting rid of my DVD player…but the problem is that it just isn’t a Bluray player. It also supports HD DVDs. LG BH420. They don’t manufacture it any more except you can get firmware updates online and update the DVD player through CD ROM.

    If you remember around 2008, major studios announced and released millions of dollars worth HD DVDs and HD DVD players. Unfortunately it only lasted for 8 months as they abruptly stopped it by replacing everything with Bluray discs. LG was proactive and smart that they released a DVD player that supported both Bluray and HD DVD. Even when I bought it that was the last piece they had as they had stopped it by the time I even learnt about it’s existence.

    In other words my LG BH420 is an asset. ;)

    There is a game called “L.A. Noire”. I wonder if Ouya would support it. I bought that game for my PC. It didn’t work. So I had to return it. If there is one reason I would want to buy PS 3 its for that game which has some really cool innovative feature capturing facial expression from different angles. And of course “Red Dead Redemption”.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I doubt Ouya would support games developed for the Microsoft Xbox or Sony PS because the underlying OS/System software is different for the three systems.

    BTW, I have a similar problem with just two HDMI slots on the TV…while playing Ouya, I have to disconnect Roku! :(