It looks like we have another competitor in the console market.
The Ouya, an Android-based console, has just finished its Kickstarter campaign. The design team originally asked for $950,000, which is pretty hefty as far a Kickstarters go, but they ended up with 8.6 million dollars, a figure that would make even the Telltale Kickstarter blush. Several companies have already pledged their support to the Ouya, and new services for the deveice are still being announced. The Ouya project team says that they will have their consoles ready for shipping at March of 2013, but a lot of people still don't even know what the Ouya is. So let's take a look at what this tiny cube will give you and what the future might hold for it.
First of all, let's talk specs. The Ouya has 1GB of RAM, a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and 8GB of internal flash storage. It will be fully HDMI compatible, supporting 1080p resolution, and will have WiFi, Bluetooth, and an Ethernet port. It will also come with a single USB 2.0 port. Included is one wireless controller, which features two analog sticks, a d-pad, eight action buttons (four face buttons and four triggers), a system button, and a touchpad. Finally, the whole thing will run on Android 4.0
But what does this all mean? Well, in laymen's terms, the Ouya is not the most powerful console out there. Yes, it technically has more RAM than the PS3 at this point, but it doesn't have a separate graphics processor. It has support for 1080p resolution, but it's likely that we won't be seeing any visual masterpieces that make you want to cry tears of blood due to all of the shinies.
Also weaker than most game systems (excluding the Wii) is the console's onboard storage. Eight gigabytes of internal flash storage is not a whole lot. Bear in mind, the OS has to take up some portion of this. Also, many smartphones come with up to 32 GBs of storage, and even those routinely have problems with getting overstuffed with media, video, and games. Some sources have said that the Ouya's memory will be expandable using USB memory devices, but the Ouya has only one USB 2.0 port, so that seems unlikely unless they expect us to invest in a USB hub.
So, with all these weaknesses what can the Ouya do? For one, the Ouya can stream games like nobody's business. OnLive, the game streaming service we have heard so much about, has teamed up with Ouya, which will probably be a huge step forward for the tiny little console. Graphical processing capabilities will be irrelevant, as all of the graphics and gameplay will happen server-side. The only thing the Ouya will need to do is transmit video and button commands, which it is more than powerful enough to do.
The Ouya will also be perfect for streaming video. This, of course, includes Netflix, Hulu, and all your other favorite services, but it's pretty obvious that the Ouya is trying to team up with the pro gaming community by offering a streaming service for Twitch.TV.