Ouya: New Kid in the Console Game ($99)
Fully funded by gamers on Kickstarter last year, the first significant console not built by Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo was shipped to more than 46,000 backers March 28 (it hits retailers like Amazon, Target and Best Buy in June).
(From the pages of the April 2 issue of Variety.)
The cube-shaped device also is notable as the first gaming platform powered by Google’s open-sourced Android software, which drives a majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets, and is essentially aimed at boosting the profile of independent gamemakers by giving that community a popular new device on which to distribute its creations.
Ouya already has its fans, with more than 63,000 supporters raising $8.5 million; its founders were seeking just $950,000. It also has more than 539 developers submitting new titles like Visorman and the follow up from “Words With Friends” creator Paul Bettner to Ouya’s digital store, key to keeping the console humming along.
But the little cube is also being eyed as another platform for video anywhere it’s placed, which will provide Hollywood with yet another outlet for its content. Ouya’s founders are negotiating app deals with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and YouTube. It already has deals with TuneIn and media center software maker XBMC, along with streaming videogame service OnLive.
The company plans to release a new Ouya each year, taking a page from the mobile phone market as a way to take advantage of faster processors and other tech developments. Games will be easily transferred to each device, eliminating upgrade headaches.
Carry On: What to Pack When You’re on the Go
Sennheiser’s Stylish Momentum – Sennheiser.com | $349
Plastics nearly smother most over-ear headphones, but this stylish pair boasts clear stereo sound and the right tech touches, along with stainless steel and leather from English tannery Pittards, giving it a modern but retro look that’s most welcome in the higher-end category.
Tylt: The Color of Power – Tylt.com | $40-$70
Proving accessories don’t have to be dull, Tylt’s brightly colored cords, cables and power supplies offer a playful design twist (like flat noodle-shaped band car and wall chargers). The Vu wireless charger’s slick on any desk, while its portable Powerplant battery pack is a must-have on trips.
The following content provided in partnership with BGR.com, a division of Penske Media Corp.:
Many Bells, Few Whistle
BlackBerry.com | $600 at Verizon; $550 at AT&T; $200 with a two-year contract
The Z10 is a completely rethought BlackBerry experience. Very few things are the same, and for the most part, that’s good. In some cases though, it feels like RIM differentiated for the sake of differentiation, leading to a slightly worse user experience.
Its 4.2-inch touch screen looks good, but not great compared with other high-end smartphones packing a boatload more pixels. New browser will be a welcome upgrade to any existing BlackBerry owner, and the virtual keyboard works very, very well.
The camera on a BlackBerry has never been good, but photos taken on the Z10 are completely acceptable, and video recording at 1080p was extremely sharp. A smartphone is of course, at its core, a phone, and voice-calling is about average on the Z10.
Tab-boo: Sony’s Tablet Already Feels Dated
Sony.com | $499
Sony has largely flopped in the mobile market because it hasn’t given Android fans any reason to spend money on its smartphones or tablets. Sadly, this trend persists with Sony’s new Xperia Tablet Z, which actually marks a regression of the tablet form factor as a whole, and would be considered subpar even by 2010 standards.
The tablet’s alleged claim to fame is that it’s the world’s “lightest and thinnest” Android tablet, a feat achieved by being built with flimsy plastic that is indeed light but also very cheap — it doesn’t matter how light your tablet is, if holding it in your hands feels like a chore.
Sony describes the device as “the most premium, high performance 10.1-inch Android tablet available,” which may be true, but only because Sony isn’t pitting it against the Galaxy Note 8.0 or the Nexus 7, two smaller tablets that absolutely run rings around the Xperia Tablet Z. Strong specifications mean absolutely nothing if a tablet simply isn’t enjoyable to use. Sorry, Sony, but it’s time to go back to the drawing board.