Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
When the OUYA finished its Kickstarter campaign, the open-source video game console raised more than $8 million. Consumers were ready for a new type of console, and OUYA made some lofty promises. As an open-source micro console, it promised that you could open the console, change the components, install third-party hardware and software, and keep your warranty through it all. While these are great ideas, most of the OUYA's capabilities are largely theoretical, since the console relies heavily on third-party support for new software.
As interesting as the OUYA idea is, you probably aren't looking for a console that allows you to develop games and apps. It's a nice feature, but most gamers will not have the ability to regularly create video games, or even a single game for that matter. Most gamers are interested in the promise of free gaming. Everything on the OUYA is free to try. While some developers offer their full games and apps for free, most games give you the opportunity to play a demo or limited trial version before you buy.
The console has a 16GB hard drive, and you can expand the storage space with a USB flash drive or external hard drive. The games tend to be standard-definition mobile games, and most of them look terrible on a large-screen TV. There are a few standout titles, but most are an eyesore on a 40-inch television.
The console itself is small and won't take much space. Its controller, however, is bulky and poorly designed. The buttons tend to stick, and the joysticks feel loose. Fortunately, you can sync any Bluetooth controller to the console, so if you prefer the PS3 or Xbox 360 controllers, use those instead. In fact, the OUYA allows you to install any peripheral you want, but there is no reason to install things like headsets or webcams, as the console lacks software that uses these peripherals.
Since its shaky launch, OUYA's customer support staff has improved and can now offer help by email. There are several high-quality user forums, one of which OUYA itself hosts and moderates. If you want to explore the console's full capabilities, there are hundreds of users who can help you and suggest interesting apps.
The OUYA is an interesting idea since it is the only open-source video game console on the market. However, for the regular gamer, the OUYA's great ideas are lost on its limited selection of games and its poorly built controller. Fortunately, every game has a free demo, so you can try everything before you buy.