I would honestly be shocked if they can ship a console with even those specs along with a controller and all the assorted bits and pieces you need, to an end user for $99 without eating some hidden costs themselves (which, if their budget is under a million, doesn't seem like something they're going to do). I'm not a manufacturing expert, so maybe I'm missing something enormous here, but given the history of console manufacturers taking a loss to sell bundled software, and the high list price of android devices, I don't see any evidence to support that their target price is remotely realistic.
Even worse, the hardware specs are just... short-sighted. 8GB of storage is not remotely enough for a console that has no physical storage medium for games - Microsoft gets away with selling a 4GB XBox 360 because customers can pop a DVD into the drive, but anyone who is actually downloading games off the internet is going to need way more space than 8GB. I've got individual games on my Android phone that are over a gigabyte, and that's ignoring the amount of space used by the android OS itself along with other data (like saved games) - many modern PC games have individual save files that are over 10 megs. That stuff adds up. If you force players to add/remove games from their system in order to fit into 8GB, they're going to spend a ton of time waiting on their internet connections (and you would expect a guy who worked on the OLPC to know that a lot of people out there don't have fast internet yet.) USB2 for external storage means that expansion options will be limited - loading game assets off USB2 would probably have pretty dire performance consequences.
There's also other assorted details that just make this feel lazy. The buttons on that controller mockup are only color-coded, which means it will be difficult (if not impossible) to clearly communicate to a color-blind player which button is associated with what action - even worse, they use all four colors, so it will probably affect people with every type of colorblindness. This is a mistake that none of the other console vendors have made: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all made sure that each of their buttons has a distinct shape or letter associated with it so that in-game text and UI can communicate clearly to anyone who plays.
Furthermore, they show various games in their mockup material - like Minecraft, and Triple Town, and Shadowgun - but apparently they haven't made deals with all of these developers to show up in the promotional material (let alone use the platform), which makes it seem like they really believe they're just going to ride the Android Market all the way to success. Can they even provide access to the official Android Market without meeting the requirements that Google imposes for shipping the Google Experience apps or whatever they're called?
I could also rant about the fact that they think a Tegra 3 and Cortex A9 is adequate for a game console, but honestly I'm not worried about that. People have done amazing things with low-spec hardware before, but it certainly doesn't help if the hardware is poor along with the other poor decisions on display here.
The platform is comparable hardware wise to the current generation of consoles for a fraction of the cost with loads of games already and an incredible hacker spirit (isn't that what this place is supposed to be about... ) as the most open console (free dev kit, open the box and mod it doesn't necessarily void warranty, open source etc etc).
Maybe not everyone wants to pay a fortune for over priced over engineered locked down blackboxes. Maybe some people can derive fun from medium to low powered open platforms. I'd say give this thing a chance but it clearly doesn't need you and looks like it's going to succeed just fine regardless. :)
And isn't the spirit of HN to be looking for and cheering the next new thing, not crapping on it in favor of the old established thing?
How does grandparent's remarks qualify as crapping on anything? You don't even respond to his points. HN is not for cheerleading.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Similarly, the next generation of SoC GPUs (e.g. PowerVR G6200) has approximately the power of an xbox360's xenos GPU (which seems to have been enough for players, despite x10 better GPUs on PCs). When that arrives (next year), these guys will be there - they just need to survive. Another relevant quote:
No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.
There's a name for people who work for the love of it: amateurs. The word now has such bad connotations that we forget its etymology, though it's staring us in the face. "Amateur" was originally rather a complimentary word. But the thing to be in the twentieth century was professional, which amateurs, by definition, are not.
That's why the business world was so surprised by one lesson from open source: that people working for love often surpass those working for money. Users don't switch from Explorer to Firefox because they want to hack the source. They switch because it's a better browser.
As in software, when professionals produce such crap, it's not surprising if amateurs can do better. Live by the channel, die by the channel: if you depend on an oligopoly, you sink into bad habits that are hard to overcome when you suddenly get competition. 
Google is selling the Nexus 7 right now for 200 dollars. This is essentially the same hardware but:
1) No screen, no batteries, no cellular radio
2) No need to squeeze it into the tiniest and lightest possible form factor
3) It doesn't come out until next year.
While I have no idea if they are actually competent, it is a reasonable goal. The controller apparently costs 30 dollars.
>Even worse, the hardware specs are just... short-sighted. 8GB of storage is not remotely enough for a console that has no physical storage medium for games
It's going to have an SSD slot. They omitted that in their description but that info is available in the other news articles. Not ideal but a perfectly okay spot to save on IMO.
>There's also other assorted details that just make this feel lazy... Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all made sure that each of their buttons has a distinct shape or letter associated with it so that in-game text and UI can communicate clearly to anyone who plays.
Agreed. I hope they fix this before launch.
>I could also rant about the fact that they think a Tegra 3 and Cortex A9 is adequate for a game console, but honestly I'm not worried about that.
It's a good baseline. They can't go higher than this and sell it for 100 dollars.
The one hardware bit I am worried about is that they make no mention of accelerometer and gyroscope in the controller. The Nexus 7 and pretty much any recent cellphone and tablet being have them now. They make great low cost all in one chips for this they really need to squeeze that in there or they will be locked out of a huge amount of possible games.
In general, we've all seen a huge surge of awesome games and innovation on tablets and phones in recent years. I don't think it is due to just the form factor -- it is because anyone in their garage can publish a game for the platform. Bringing this ease of development into the formerly protected space of the console/tv gaming is the benefit of this console.
It's a given that in the gaming world, people hate buying hardware. The only reason people buy hardware is to get to the software. As much as they like to deny it, Nintendo consoles are just boxes to get to Mario and Zelda, and Xboxes are boxes to get to Halo and COD.
I don't care how indie you think you are, nobody's going to buy a game console just to play Canabalt.
And if they truly are focusing strictly on free-to-play games, and that's not just bad marketing that means "every game must at least have a demo", that's going to repel a lot of developers that aren't interested in that particular business model - the ones actually interested in selling their games.
Not to mention that a lot of times, especially in the MMO world, free-to-play games tend to be the rejects of the gaming world. They're the ones who thought they could take down WoW with a subscription-based model, bled money for a few months, and then went FtP because no one would actually pay for their game.
It's a shame, because I think there's plenty of opportunity in the console world right now. Nintendo is too busy pushing 3D and hardware gimmicks to follow up on their earlier success, and the other two big players are too busy trying to replicate PC gaming. But in order to compete properly you absolutely need good software to do it.
That being said, $95 doesn't seem like much of a stretch, especially if they're selling at cost, hoping to make their profit in the store. It's essentially a Nexus 7 minus the two most expensive components, the screen and battery. Remember the timeframe, too. By March 2013, the Tegra 3 will be a small fraction of the price it costs now.
I agree about the 8GB. 8GB with an SD card slot is about exactly right. 8GB without is going to be a huge problem for users.
Originally, official Android builds would not allow apps to be installed to removable media to prevent users from copying their purchased apps to multiple devices. More recently, Android has offered encrypted installs and server-side validation methods so that apps can be installed to removable media yet still tied to the device they were purchased on.
If I have stated anything factually incorrect, can someone speak up?
I would not consider the S2 as being in any way definitive of "Android". The only Android devices that I would attach that label to are the ones with Nexus in the name. As far as running apps from the sdcard, neither the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus, nor the Nexus 7 even have an sdcard slot and the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus have full access for apps to the entirety of internal memory, e.g., if you have a 32 GB device, you have access to whatever's left over of that 32 after the room set aside for the system so accessing the "sdcard" is a moot point despite there being a mount point for it for backward compatibility.
No idea how they're gonna cope with all that. I'm waiting for an official update from them telling us what the plan is. But it seems worth my $99 to give it a shot and see what happens. The project just makes way too much sense not to give it a go.
I wonder what they're going to do if/when these 5000 sell out, which looks like it will happen soon. I would guess that the bulk of their kickstarter money will come from people at this level, so they'd reach $1M sooner by expanding this offer or adding a similar but slightly higher priced one.
The hardware bill of materials for a project like this is not very much. $99 is realistic for mass production. Maybe not for a small batch manufactured by first timers(?) but doable. List prices of Android devices are ridiculously high, especially outside the US.
OUYA has to add plastic casing, power source, connectors, storage, wireless AND a wireless controller, and source manufacturing for many tens of thousands of those, QC and handling/shipment.
Those $2 million start to look short..
That said, I don't know shit and would love to be proven wrong :)
I'd be guessing they could get them for $10 if they were buying 10,000.
This page doesn't tell us a lot about this project, and yet it's already gathered $150k+ only a few hours in. Impressive.
I wouldn't bet on that being a final controller, the video shows references to the buttons by letter, O, U, Y and A. (Can see them along the bottom of the screen while showing Canabalt)
The colors also appear to be the same as my old xbox-360 controller, but I don't keep up with consoles, so you may be right about that.
The specs are an important consideration, but they won't matter if the thing is too expensive to gain a large following.
Their largest problem will be their sales channel I suspect.
I hope they kick ass.
As a game developer (hobbyist), I see a number of problems with this platform.
1) It does not solve a real problem. There are many Android devices already I could hook up to a TV, and add in a bluetooth controller (my Asus Transformer is one of them). If I already own a device, why buy another? Also, couldn't Google's new $200 Nexus tablet do all this?
2) While I do play a fair amount of handheld games, it's usually on the go. If I am playing at home, I want to make use of that multi-gigawatt power supply I've got. I don't want my games bogged down by weak hardware.
3) I do not want to travel backwards. I feel many consoles are already too limited in their compute power, which is why I prefer the PC. A normal PC can do all of the things they suggest (even run android!).
4) Android has already displayed a fairly weak gaming market (at least relative to iOS) - I actually prefer Android, but ultimately its the games available that sell the console, and I do not see developers rushing to this. I'd rather fool around with a $25 Raspberry Pi.
I am all for their goal of getting an affordable console into the living room, but this feels too much like cashing in on something that already exists, rather than innovating.
Also, your point #1 reminds me of a Steve Jobs quote, regarding the Apple I (a kit computer):
"It was very clear to me that while there were a bunch of hardware hobbyists that could assemble their own computers, or at least take our board and add the transformers for the power supply and the case the keyboard and go get the rest of the stuff. For every one of those there were a thousand people that couldn't do that, but wanted to mess around with programming - software hobbyists. And so my dream for the Apple 2 was to sell the first real packaged computer."
Yes, you don't have any interest in this machine. And maybe I don't; I still run Linux on the desktop, after all. But there are apparently a lot of people who are voting with their wallets they they want this experience without having to jury-rig anything.
I believe this is completely wrong-headed. This solves a huge problem. How many people have you seen play Android games on a TV, or even ever connected their Android device to the TV? And how many of those are more on the tech consumer rather than producer side?
What problem does a console solve? Couldn't I just buy a computer and hook it up to my PC? Why would anyone buy a console?
How many Android games work great with a bluetooth controller? Which controller with what features? How likely are you to leave your tablet hooked up to the TV? Do tablets cost 100 dollars?
The obvious interest in the device shows it DOES solve a problem. I sure hope these guys knock it out of the park.
If they wanted to make a killer console, they have to make killer tools -- and their hands are kind of tied by Android. Android is a bit bloated, the emulator sucks, development can be occasionally slow and painful, and like many of the other platforms, there are several quirks. It is just not the friendliest thing I have developed for...although I don't blame the company for picking it as it is one of the few open platforms.
1. This is speculation
2. They didn't say anything about the final release price
> 8GB of storage is not remotely enough for a console that has no physical storage medium for games
I agree, this is a strange decision
> The buttons on that controller mockup are only color-coded
This is an interresting point, but the console could totally survive that.
> Furthermore, they show various games in their mockup material - like Minecraft, and Triple Town, and Shadowgun - but apparently they haven't made deals with all of these developers to show up in the promotional material (let alone use the platform), which makes it seem like they really believe they're just going to ride the Android Market all the way to success. Can they even provide access to the official Android Market without meeting the requirements that Google imposes for shipping the Google Experience apps or whatever they're called?
They say in their video "minecraft is gonna be on it" and they have a quote from somebody from mojang down in the quotations, so they're obviously in contact with them.
They have the developer of canabalt saying that he has a port of the game ready for the console.
So maybe they're just a little bit more serious than what you seem to think ?
This device could survive, and strive, with all the shortcomings you mentionned. The design could also evolve before release.
There are some smoke and mirrors here. The Kickstarter video shows Minecraft on Ouya's system dashboard, which might be possible without further development given that Minecraft is available on Android. But Carl Manneh, who helps run Minecraft development studio Mojang told Kotaku that he and his colleagues "haven't seen it nor committed to anything." He added: "but we do like the idea!" Loving the idea and wanting it to succeed seems to be the status for a raft of top indies, including Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman and Wasteland creator Brian Fargo.
I think that guys like Sony or Nintendo had so much more budgets/experience/talents to create super-optimized low-spec custom hardware and SDK going along allowing to create great piece of software with these specs.
I am quite sure that the SDKs that will go along the platform will be "as-good" as the stock SDK provided by Google. Meaning "good" but not in the same game with Sony/Nintendo's SDKs.
And i think it's usb1