In the world of consumer electronics, “Android” and “console gaming” are two terms which are both heard often, but until recently, were almost never before heard together. Sure, Android may be an excellent mobile platform developed on the attractive principle of open application development, but is it really suitable as a platform for high fidelity gaming consoles to run? A number of next generation gaming consoles that are soon to be or already have been released are Android-based; many such consoles were shown off at this year’s recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES for short). Here’s the basic run-down on three relatively new, next-generation consoles that all run with Android as their operating system.
The first and likely most prestigious of the Android-based consoles found at CES was the Nvidia Shield. The Shield is a handheld console; here are its main features:
· The primary control system is a built in dual analog controller; it largely resembles an Xbox 360 controller
· The built in display is five-inch flip up 720p LCD screen.
· Has Google Play game support; this support on the Android based Shield appears to be a big push on the part of Google to get into the market of serious console gaming.
· Contains an HDMI display and audio output for use of an external display, anything from a monitor to TV screen.
· Has the ability to wirelessly stream games from any computer with a recent Nvidia GTX graphics card, so it has the potential to appeal to the PC gaming crowd as well. The Shield can also be configured simply as a control interface for a PC, to play games that aren’t supported on the Shield.
While the Shield is a sound product with the solid performance delivered by most high-end Nvidia products, a lot will depend on how good of a job Google does in improving its gaming marketplace and reaching out to big game developers and publishers. There is no doubt, however, that the Shield’s high-end GPU will allow for high performance on modern games. The Nvidia Shield also features.
Another lesser-known console that makes use of Android is the Kickstarter-funded Game Stick. Here’s the details:
· It provides a console with an HDMI port that allows the player to play Android games on their TV.
· The device is completely separate from the core gaming industry, and is designed to play games natively designed for Android only.
· The Game Stick simply provides a television interface to do so. It is availablefor a price under $100.
Another similar and also Kickstarter-funded console is OUYA:
· OUYA is another TV console that allows the user to wirelessly access OnLive’s free-to-play gaming catalog
· While OUYA, like the Game Stick, was not developed by a large brand name, the selection of games from OnLive that it supports tie it more into the mainstream gaming scene than the GameStick, which primarily only supports relaxed, small time games native to Android.