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First look at the Ouya console

The Ouya is "not ready for gamers," according to Ouya's own home screen notice. Early returns are coming in from the recipients of the 1,200 or so Ouya developer consoles that the Boxer8 team began shipping to Kickstarter investors last week.

Earlier this year, the project was a major success story on Kickstarter, where Boxer8 managed to raise $8.6 million (£5.3 million) in funding through August to develop the console.

The Ouya team has been on a developer recruitment drive ever since and hopes to release the first commercially available version of the console by March. So far, so good on keeping to a tight schedule—Boxer8 said at the end of November that it would ship the dev consoles on 28 December and came through on its promise.

"I thought I would chime in here and kind of explain why the Ouya is good," the CodeZombieGames reviewer comments on one of his videos. "I have actually used many Android TV top devices. Many of them cost from $60 (£37) to $200 (£123). Some are from China, others are consumer products [available in North America] like ... Google TV. Nearly all of these devices are disappointing when it comes to OpenGL performance."

"The Ouya on the other hand is a Tegra 3 device, and is capable of actually playing 3D games," he continued.

"I have gotten [the] AngryBots Unity demo to work on [the] Ouya and it runs smoothly."

The dev unit is pretty easy to connect and fire up. The package Boxer8 shipped out to Kickstarter contributors who invested $699 (£428) or more contains the dev console itself, two Ouya dev controllers with batteries, plus an HDMI cable, Micro-USB cable, and a power adapter. So basically anybody capable of connecting a mainstream console like the Xbox 360 to a TV is going to have no trouble hooking this unit up.

The CodeZombieGames reviewer looks to have connected his Ouya dev console to an LG desktop monitor. He had some trouble finding his Mac address with the Android utility used to set up a connection, but eventually got it to work.

The controllers, translucent plastic like the Ouya itself, are configured like standard console controllers with the usual analogue sticks, trigger buttons, etc. —though the face buttons replace the normal "XYBA" lettering with "OUYA." The reviewer calls the controllers "quite light and easy to hold... they certainly won't tire your wrists out or anything like that." He also describes the plastic used as not high-quality but "not bad either."

Two AA batteries slot into either handle of the Ouya controller and there's also a centred touchpad at the top of the device. The reviewer figured that additional interface option was adequate for browsing the Web but said he "probably wouldn't use it for games." You do apparently need the touchpad to navigate around the console's built-in Android browser, however.

On to the Ouya experience itself. In an extensive, 17-minute video, the CodeZombieGames dev walks us through what looks to be a pretty robust platform for surfing the Internet and playing games.

The main menu is simple but inviting. Games, Apps, and Store don't have any content behind them yet but the Devs option leads to a new menu page listing Builds, Software, News, and an Intro Video. This is a dev unit, after all.

In Software, the Ouya dev unit comes loaded with a built-in Android browser. Watching a YouTube cartoon offers a peek at the Ouya's "smooth" video-streaming performance. Our host also loaded his own OpenGL game, called Deadly Dungeons, on the console and walked us through a quick demo to demonstrate the Ouya's similarly "smooth" animations.

The final console is expected to include TwitchTV and access to OnLive streaming video out of the box. The Ouya team also seeks to build an exclusive apps and games store for the console, which is intentionally being built to make it easily rootable and hackable at both the hardware and software levels.