Ouya review roundup: Is this Android console worth $99?

The Ouya, a $99.99 Android console, launches today. Here's what critics are saying. 

The Ouya, a new Android video game console, launches in the US and the UK this week.

The Ouya, an Android-powered video game console, was unveiled last year to the kind of hype product developers dream of – tons of press, $3.7 million in Kickstarter funds in just a couple of days (the drive eventually went on to rake in far more than that), a rousing reception on Twitter and Facebook. This week, the Ouya finally hits shelves in the US and the UK. Is the console, which will sell here for $99.99, worth the cash? Let's dive into the reviews and find out. 

The console 

"The entire device is plastic, but it actually looks and feels fairly nice, not that you’ll spend a lot of time fondling the console itself," notes Ryan Whitwam of Android Police. "I have noticed that the Ouya gets extremely hot while in use. It’s so toasty that it becomes uncomfortable to touch just idling. The upshot, it’s completely silent. Most real consoles sound like a small aircraft taking off next to your TV. I have some concerns that this does not bode well for long-term durability, though."

The controller

"The controller sounds nice on paper, but it's sadly close to being outright junk," writes Will Greenwald of PC Mag. "The touchpad is the worst touchpad I've ever used. It's over-sensitive but unresponsive, making the cursor fly around the screen with only little concern for what my finger is doing. It doesn't click, and it takes patience to tap the touchpad just right to make it register as a tap and not a swipe." 

The controller, part two

"I can say unequivocally that the number one problem I experienced with the Ouya was controller lag," says Mo Mozuch of iDigital Times. "BAD controller lag... This is no small thing for a console trying to pull gamers away from one of three virtually flawless machines. I mean, you might have a preference for an Xbox or a PS3 or a Wii U but you can at least play a different console with a reasonable expectation for its performance."

The games

The Ouya launches with an array of games – some of them ports, like a Sonic game and a Final Fantasy title, and some of them originals, like Rival Threads: Last Class Heroes

"As we sat there punching, jumping, running and shooting our way through the handful of oddball titles, we had to wonder what would become Ouya's killer app," says Alex Roth of TechRadar. "Still, every game we tried controlled very well, and looked great on an HDTV. Even the purposely blocky, eight-bit-esque Fist of Awesome benefited by a 720p presentation."

The innards

"The Ouya has an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor running at 1.7GHz. When we benchmarked it, it didn't do badly at all on measures of CPU power," writes Mr. Greenwald of PC Mag. "Its Antutu score of 13443 and Basemark OS score of 270 match or beat the Nexus 7 tablet, although it fell short of devices like the LG Optimus G and Samsung Galaxy Note II on Basemark OS. What really disturbed us, though, was the graphics test results. The Ouya scored only 38.6 [frames per second] on the relatively low-stress Nenamark 2 graphics benchmark. On GLBenchmark 2.5 HQ, which comes closer to console-quality graphics, it crawled along at 11 [frames per second]."  

The final word 

"Everything about it screams its desire to be the noble champion of indie games," laments Rus McLaughlin of VentureBeat. "Instead, the console I played with – which Ouya’s PR reps now tell us is not the final, retail hardware – comes across more as the noble champion that some dirty, no-name mercenary humiliates in 10 seconds flat. These early-backer units are made with love but not with care. As such, I worry the Ouya might do a disservice to the very things it wants to lift up."

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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