Nothing will ever replace your consoles or PC, but what if you want a cheap device that apart from letting you watch your favorite audio and video services it also lets you play some casual games? That’s the idea behind micro-consoles. Some companies are putting a lot of effort into these little machines and while I don’t think the idea will come to fruition for a few years, micro-consoles fascinate me. On this article, you’ll find some of the best and most popular devices you can get as of this writing, but since this list will be completely different a year from now, I’ll probably update it when the time comes. In the meantime, if you want something where you can watch Netflix and do some light gaming from time to time, you can’t go wrong with the machines below.
Ouya, one of the highest earning projects on Kickstarter, seemed like the console that was going to revolutionize the industry forever and while it delivered some of its promises, it ended up being underwhelming and disappointing. Soon after the system’s release, the developer announced the possibility of releasing improved hardware on a regular basis, which sounds like a good idea, but the lack of games and the poor quality of the first version of the Ouya show that things could have definitely gone better for this machine.
Like: Can be modified. Every game has free-to-play. Supports a variety of applications including Twitch TV and XBMC. Supports other controllers (including Xbox 360, Wii and PS3.) Supports emulators and homebrew. Costs $99
Don’t Like: Most games are oriented for casual people. Poor quality.
Killer App: TowerFall
To me, the PlayStation TV is probably one of the best micro-consoles available as of this article, mainly because it’s probably the only device with gaming in mind. It’s worth mentioning that it does support some apps (albeit a limited number of them,) but taking into account that the system lets you play PSP, Vita and PlayStation One Classics, applications are a secondary concern. Not every single game is compatible, but the competition doesn’t come close to the number of games you can play with Sony’s little machine.
Like: $99 or $129 bundle. Supports hundreds of games. PlayStation Now compatible. Supports remote play. You can use it for Hulu, Crunchy Roll and other apps. Really small. Good design.
Don’t Like: Doesn’t support certain apps as of this writing (no Netflix). Some games look bad on bigger screen. Doesn’t support vita games that use the touchscreen.
Killer App: Depends on your taste. Personally, I’d love to check out Spelunky, Rogue Legacy and the Telltale games on this system.
The Google Nexus set-top box was announced a few days ago and it already caught the attention of a lot of people. The main focus of this machine is definitely streaming, so playing games is secondary, but Google announced that it’ll support a gaming controller, so that’s definitely exciting for people who want to play games now and then.
Like: A set-top box made by Google. It’ll have its own controller which means that there will be some games for this thing. Costs $99.
Don’t Like: Focuses on streaming media and not games.
Killer App: Hard to say, since the system isn’t out yet.
Amazon Fire TV
The main focus of this box is streaming audio and video to HD-capable TVs, but unlike most of the machines on this list, Amazon bought a gaming company which means that we’ll be seeing some exclusive titles for the machine. There’s also a gaming controller especially designed for the Fire TV.
Like: Costs $99. The announcement of a gaming company sounds exciting. Device specs are better than those of the competition.
Don’t Like: Limited game options and not optimized for gaming.
Killer App: Minecraft: Pocket Edition, The Walking Dead, Grand Theft Auto, The Wolf Among Us.
Like the Ouya, the GameStick focuses entirely on games and everything else is secondary. Of course, the first thing that will probably caught your attention about the Stick is that it isn’t a box, but a small stick that you can connect directly to the HDMI port.
Like: Just $79. Minimalist design.
Don’t Like: Oriented towards casual players. Underpowered. Some of the latest Android games don’t work with the GameStick limited selection of games.
Killer App: Shadow Gun