My pre-order arrived yesterday and I've finally settled on keeping it as a replacement for one of our HTPCs, as it has all of the functionality(minus items I can use my server for) with a fraction of the complexity or power usage.
This review will be in Pro/Con/Quirks format with an emphasis on items that were promised either by the Ouya Kickstarter Page or significant backers, with some pointers on taking full advantage of what is available and alternatives to what Android aficionados may be used to. All in all, it meets my expectations, but your mileage may vary.
*Game quality is surprisingly good, if simple.
*Pandora and NETFLIX work flawlessly when side-loaded. OnLive works as well as on any other Android device.
*Video and Sound for local content or streaming is stutter and artifact free.
*Most Bluetooth gamepads are recognized and just work. Same goes for USB peripherals
*Plex is in the Ouya market FREE on day one and streams any content from the free Plex Server application on your Windows, Mac, or LINUX PC(Todd, I'm finally switching my media server to Ubuntu).
*The controllers are damned convenient and decent quality, save only the lack of Start and Select buttons or a power switch. The lack of Start and Select buttons could easily be fixed with touch-pad gestures, double taps, or "soft buttons" in Applications or the System Firmware.*Side-loading of generic Android Apps(or the Amazon App store) is relatively straightforward vs other devices I've tried
; Save APK's from another Android device using an Play Store app like "APK Installer"(or play sucker and download them from random forum links), put them on Google Drive from your phone or tablet's browser, and download them from Google Drive to the Ouya using the built in browser. Open and Install them from Manage>>System>>Advanced>>Storage>>Downloads.
CON: *Note there are only FOUR separate Con's, with explicit details*
*No PayPal support as was promised. You HAVE to use a credit card or pre-paid Ouya Card to set up the device.
*Without the Google Play store, there is simply no way to load paid
Play store apps. If you've bought it in the Play store and its not available on OnLive, or the Amazon App Store you'll have to buy it again from Ouya Market. If its not in any of those markets, you are SOL.
Few games I've tried so far have had a proper "Demo" as promised, and those still have the footprint of the full game. Every single one has either been free outright, an alpha/beta-like preview of an as-yet-unreleased title, or had a time restricted "trial", meaning if I set my kids lose on this thing unsupervised it will be a lot harder to judge which apps to spend money on and which ones to pass/delete, even though the entire trial period has been "played" through. This also "fills up" the internal memory(or more likely the game download limit) with the FULL footprint of every game downloaded.
*OnLive was promised as a day one release, but is not available on the Ouya market as yet, and because OnLive is NOT Ouya native as yet, many OnLive games require Start or Select buttons that the Ouya controller simply does not have; Additionally, the Start and Select buttons on the OnLive Universal Gamepad are not recognized by OnLive on the Ouya(or Android 4 devices in general), and OnLive does not treat a quick tap of the Ouya Button as a Start Button as Ouya native games do. Even MotoGP 2013, OnLive's newest "Class A" game, makes heavy and relatively needless use of the missing Start button.
Quirks unrelated to any press release:
*TV Over/Underscan settings appear to be useless, nor is there any option to set 720p vs 1080i vs 1080p.
*There is no way to navigate the main UI menus with a keyboard and mouse. There is no keyboard or mouse equivilent to the controller "O" "U" "Y" or "A" face buttons on the controllers. Additionally, when you left or right click with a mouse on a menu item that is already highlighted, it actually serves to DE-select that menu item! This may not seem like a big deal for "normal" use, but if you spend any time with side-loaded apps it is pretty annoying.
*Either I've only tried the larger games, or there is a ~30 game download limit. The clincher is that I wasn't TOLD the memory was full, only "You've downloaded too many games. Remove one and try again". In fact, there was over 5GB internal memory free at this point, and no one game weighs much more than ~1GB
*No game I've tried so far will restrict single player control to one controller(alternately fun or a PITA with young children, TRY THE CRANE GAME). The only way to shut off extra controllers without exiting a game is to remove a battery(I like to remove the right hand battery, insert it backwards, and leave it unseated such that only one end contacts the leads in the battery compartment; There is enough room to do this and still close the controller).
*Any time the last gamepad in use is disconnected(by removing a battery...), the system acts like a Start/Pause button has been pressed. Want to watch a movie with Plex or Netflix, or listen to a Pandora Station with the controller off to save on batteries? You better have a mouse or touchpad with USB dongle connected in order to "go in" and hit the on screen play button. Apparently you can hit the power switch on such things without upsetting the console, so why not the controllers?
Removed from Cons, as it is not now, never was, correct:
*Rooting KILLS the Ouya Market. ...Even though this is supposed to be an "open" device. Note: I have not found any reason I as a consumer should root just yet, but still, this was an option that was expected without penalty.