Talking tech since 2003

Earlier this morning, we told you that today was the official launch day of the $99 Android-powered OUYA game console. My initial plan was to order one online, but after seeing that Amazon had quickly sold out of its stock, and realizing that no local retailers seemed to have the OUYA at all, I got a little desperate. I ordered one for in-store pickup at a Best Buy in Frederick, Maryland, and three hours and 150 miles later, here it sits.

I’ll be going a little more in depth with the OUYA tomorrow, but I wanted to give you some of the first impressions I had while unboxing the system and checking things out.

First off, I have to say that I was initially impressed by the packaging of the OUYA, at least on the outside. It’s pretty well done and doesn’t really scream “this was a Kickstarter project!” It looks like the type of box a larger, more established company might have packaged its game system in.

ouya-xbox-controllersHowever, the similarities end when you open the box. Most game systems and electronic devices come sealed in or covered by a plastic that protects vulnerable surfaces. In my multitude of electronics purchases, I’ve never really thought anything of that plastic — and then the OUYA came along. Plastic covers very odd parts of the controller — the shoulder buttons for example — and is not very easy to take off. I spent 10 minutes trying to pick the plastic off of the side of a shoulder button. I don’t want to keep rambling on about this, but as soon as you open an OUYA for yourself, you’ll understand what I’m saying. It kills a bit of the joy you feel when unboxing a new device.

Picking up the controller was a bit of a disappointment. Despite the aluminum faceplate, the controller feels a little cheap. When compared to an Xbox 360 controller (which the OUYA controller is very similar to), it isn’t as comfortable to hold, either. The OUYA controller does use a four-way, plus sign-shaped d-pad, but playing with it initially, I’m finding that the d-pad doesn’t press down very far. You don’t get that “pop” sound or the satisfying feeling in your thumb that you’ve pushed the d-pad in a particular direction. Instead, it feels like you’ve barely pushed it at all.

ouya-systemThe system itself — a small box that’s a little bit bigger than a baseball — is gorgeous. Glossy black plastic on the top and bottom and brushed aluminum on all four sides. As gorgeous as the OUYA system is, it’s hard to believe that the controller came from the same place. On the back of the system, there are a few ports for power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB.

I’m going to run the system through its paces and try out a few games, and by tomorrow I should be able to elaborate a bit more on the OUYA experience — in particular, the Android fork the system runs and the games that are available for it. In the meantime, I’d love to know — do you plan on picking up an OUYA yourself, are you on the fence or are you just not interested? Leave a comment below.

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