Ouya review

Ouya is cheap, runs Android and is totally open. Can it take on the Xbox and PlayStation or does it offer little more than mobile games on your TV?

After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign which saw a whopping $8.5 million raised by the general public, the open-source Ouya games console is finally a reality.

This diminutive cube-like device runs Android 4.1, boasts a Bluetooth controller and costs less than £100 – little wonder then that many within the games industry are predicting that it could steal away precious market share from the likes of theSony PS4, Microsoft Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U.

However, while Ouya is the most famous of a new wave of Android-based gaming platforms, it’s not unique in the field – this year will also see the launch ofGameStick, Mad Catz has M.O.J.O. in development and the Nvidia Shield handheld console is also being prepared for launch in June – all of these rival systems are running Google’s OS as well.

Being first to market doesn’t always assure success, and while the concept behind the console is certainly exciting, it’s fair to say that Ouya comes with its fair share of niggles.

Ouya: Size and build

Created by renowned Swiss designer Yves Béhar, Ouya is a clean-looking cube fashioned from metal and plastic, and measures just 75mm x 75mm x 82mm. There’s a power button on the top, but aside from that there are no other physical keys anywhere on the console.

Around the back there’s a selection of ports, and a surprisingly silent fan resides in the base. Despite its small size, Ouya weighs a chunky 300g.

Ouya: Features

Ouya runs Google’s Android operating system, but comes with its own menu system and interface. Although the software running the system is the same as that found in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, Ouya isn’t compatible with the Google Play market – so you can’t log in and download all your previously purchased games.

Instead, you’ll have to use the official Ouya store, which doesn’t have anywhere near as many quality games right now. This also means you’ll end up paying twice for some titles when they eventually get ported over, which is a bit annoying.

Under the bonnet, Ouya is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chipset. This ensures some pretty impressive 3D performance with HD visuals, but the tech feels slightly outdated these days – Android devices were running this chip last year, and Nvidia’s aforementioned Shield handheld console ships with Tegra 4, which will offer far superior graphics.

In terms of connectivity, Ouya functions very much like an Android tablet. It has built-in Bluetooth so you can pair keyboards, mice and other gamepads. It also boasts WiFi and wired internet, and a USB 2.0 port which allows you to plug in additional storage (the unit comes with 8GB of internal flash) and other wired USB peripherals. In terms of connectivity, Ouya really benefits from its Android ancestry.

Ouya: Controller

Although it has been described by the team behind the console as the “Stradivarius controller”, the Ouya’s joypad isn’t quite as refined as that. Like the system, it’s a fusion of sand-blasted aluminium and plastic. The layout is clearly inspired by the Xbox 360 controller, but the build quality is slightly underwhelming.

The face buttons often become stuck when pressed down hard, and the metal plates which cover the battery compartments (it needs two AAs to operate) don’t sit entirely flush when locked in place.

Ouya: Games

Of course, when all is said and done, Ouya’s long term success rests on its library of games – and sadly at this point, the outlook is less than impressive. At the time of writing there’s a distinct lack of quality games available.

Legendary RPG Final Fantasy III is arguably the most famous game on offer, with mobile ports of Canabalt and Wizorb following in tow. Sadly, there’s nothing else here which will blow you away – or keep you occupied for more than a few minutes.

While developers like Sega are promising support in the future, Ouya doesn’t currently offer any juicy exclusives to tempt hardcore players. The notable titles on the horizon – such as Sonic CD, Shadowgun andDead Trigger – are all available on iOS and Android, and have been for months.

The only real benefit of playing these old classics on Ouya is the introduction of physical controls, but many of the games were designed to work perfectly on a touch screen anyway.

At the end of the day, Ouya is unlikely to get any must-have titles in the same vein as The Last of UsHalo 4 or New Super Mario Bros. U – for that kind of quality, player will still need to invest in a system from one of the big three manufacturers.

Another issue is the way in which the games are sold. Everything on the Ouya store is free to play, but many titles require a payment to unlock all of their content, while others resort to shady in-app purchases.

The trouble is, there’s no way of knowing how much you’re going to have to shell out at the point of download – prices only become apparent when you’re deep into the game itself. Even then, prices are all over the place – Final Fantasy III costs £10.99, while other titles are less than a quid.

Ouya: Verdict

On paper, Ouya is undeniably exciting – the scope of Android combined with a proper gaming interface and a super-low price point. However, a lack of quality games – not to mention an absence of AAA exclusives – makes the platform slightly less appealing.

The open nature of the console means that indie developers should embrace it enthusiastically, but with iOS and Android offering a larger audience, even that is far from certain.

When you consider that you can pick up a PS3 or 360 for just a little more cash than Ouya costs, it’s hard to recommend the console at this point in time. Hopefully Ouya can pick up more support towards the end of the year.

Ouya release date: 25 June 2013

Check it out… Ouya price: £99 ($99)


*THWACK* Samsung Rolls Out an Android Flip Phone

As much as smartphones have done to advance the fine arts of communication and handheld web surfing, the main thing we’ve been missing since the flip phone era is the satisfying THWACK! of ending a phone call. You just can’t hang up authoritatively with a smartphone. “Did you see that guy jam his thumb against his iPhone? Oooooh, he must be mad!!”

I’m not sure how many slickly-named Hennessy flip phones Samsung will be able to sell, but for a company whose Galaxy line of products features a skillion different makes, models and screen sizes, the idea here is probably that — hey — maybe there are some people out there who want to go back to flip phones without giving up too many smartphone features.

This isn’t exactly a state of the art smartphone/flip phone hybrid, mind you. It’s running a somewhat older version of Android (last year’s 4.1 Jelly Bean), and the two 3.3-inch touchscreens (yes, there are two — one on the outside and one on the inside) each feature a resolution of just 320 by 480 pixels. But there’s a quad-core processor under the hood and a gigabyte of RAM, which ought to make the phone perform smoothly. And perhaps more importantly, there’s an old-timey numeric dialing pad.

If you’re feeling nostalgic enough to explore a potential purchase of this device, I’m afraid I have some bad news. For now, it’s apparently only available in China. Who knows, though? Maybe this will become a trend.

Samsung brings back the flip phone, unveils the Hennessy featuring two 3.3-inch displays [Pocket-lint]

Sphero 2.0 iPhone-controlled robot unveiled

Orbotix’s iPhone-controlled robot has had some significant upgrades with the Sphero 2.0 now boasting a higher speed along with some other internal tweaks

Orbotix has unveiled Sphero 2.0, an update to the Sphero iPhone and Android-controlled robot which lets you use Augmented Reality to control the orb-shaped robot.

Sphero 2.0 now comes with a new engine which boasts 7 feet per second making it twice as fast as the previous model, the internal LEDs have also been boosted making it reportedly 3x brighter.

For those that want something that’s a little more rugged Sphero 2.0 now comes with a range of rubber cases which will also increase its ability to swim through water.

One of the main attractions are the host of Augmented Reality apps which let you use your iPhone or smartphone to turn the Sphero into a host of different objects all through the screen.

It’s available now for around £121 from the Orbotix website and comes with two ramps to get any budding off-roaders started.

HTC Desire 600 review

The Desire 600 is one of the first devices from HTC to sport the same design philosophy that we’ve seen in its much acclaimed flagship phone, the HTC One. It’s affordable, when compared to the One and comes with dual-SIM functionality, targeting a different user group. Of course, it doesn’t boast of premium materials, high-end hardware and premium features, but as far as the software is concerned, it does come with all the bells and whistles offered by modern Android smartphones. So, is the Desire 600 a good buy? We try to find out in our review.

Build/ Design
The HTC Desire 600 comes in two colour variants, Black and White/ Silver. We got the White/ Silver coloured variant as our review unit, and we must say that it looks pretty different from the other rectangular slabs available in the market thanks to the unique colour scheme.

The front of the phone features a 4.5-inch display panel surrounded by a Black bezel, which is encapsulated by a frame that sports a brushed aluminium finish with Red accents on the edges. The phone also sports two front speakers, similar to the HTC One. The two capacitive touch buttons for Back and Home sit below the display with the HTC branding in between, while the 1.6-megapixel front camera is located above the display. A notification LED is buried within the top speaker grill.

Read more…

Google’s Motorola set to launch Moto X phone

Google Inc’s Motorola division appears set to unveil its much anticipated Moto X phone on August 1 at an event in New York City. Email invitations sent to the media on Friday displayed the Moto X name in bold letters. The invitation depicted several youths holding the Moto X, the first smartphone Motorola has developed since its 2012 acquisition by Google.

Read more…

Waterproof your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S

Accidents are inevitable, and when an accident befalls a mobile phone, there’s a good chance that it will involve water. For the most part, modern phones handle a bit of damp quite well, there’s never much trauma if you’re out in the rain for a bit. But when you drop your phone in the bath, fall in a swimming pool or your phone makes a dive for your toilet you need a bit more protection.

That’s where you need a nanoparticle layer protecting your phone. The problem is, applying such a layer to your handset isn’t all that easy, and requires a machine worth tens of thousands of pounds. We went to see the machine, and the company called Techjacket that is now offering to coat your handset in a protective layer.

Read more…

Samsung Galaxy Folder with Android 4.2 may bring flip phones back in fashion

When you think about flip phones, perhaps the first phone that comes to mind is the Motorola RAZR. While the phone became very popular at the time, it’s now passé. But if a rumour is to be believed,Samsung is working on a flip phone that will be based on Android.According to a Korean site, DDaily the South Korean handset maker is all set to launch a flip phone with numeric keypad running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean soon. Reportedly, the company will first introduce the device in its home market i.e. South Korea and would be a low-end device. The phone is dubbed as Samsung Galaxy Folder and comes with model numbers SHV-E400S/ SHV-E400K.The DDaily quotes a Samsung Electronics official saying that the Samsung Galaxy Folder will be released in August and would also support LTE.

While a Japanese blogging site, Blog of Mobile, reveals some specifications of the Galaxy Folder. Allegedly the Galaxy Folder flip phone will be based on the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and will be powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. The screen resolution is expected to be 480×800 pixels and would be a WVGA display. This report also claims a August release date.

However, it’s not clear if the Samsung Galaxy Folder will combine a touch screen with the physical keypad, or abandon touch-based input completely.

If the Samsung Galaxy Folder is launched globally, then we can expect flip phone lovers to get a credible option after a long time as now the market is dominated by touchscreen devices. In fact even phones with physical keyboards/ keypads have seen a decline in numbers with companies like BlackBerry launching Z10 and Nokia releasing Asha and Lumia range of devices with focus on full-touch support rather than physical keyboards. It will be interesting to see whether Samsung can revive the flip phone era or the device will be a victim to the dominant touchscreen segment.

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