{ claus.conrad }

OUYA: First impressions

OUYA is a Kickstarter project with the goal of developing a cheap, Android-based game console, which I have been a backer of since some time during the 4th quarter of 2012. Ever since I have been waiting excitedly for my pre-order to be delivered and today I got lucky. These are my first impressions of the OUYA console and project.


My OUYA was shipped from Hongkong by DHL Express and arrived after approximately 5 days. Unfortunately I had to pay import VAT, but this was to be expected and is not a fault of the project. Once OUYA is available in regular (brick-and-mortar and local online) stores in [[tags.loc.europe|##loc/europe]], I hope the added VAT won’t raise its price point to much more than the official US price ($99).

The amount of VAT added was €21 and DHL added a customs fee of €5.80, which happens to be cheaper than most other logistics companies around here. I’d also like to compliment DHL for allowing me to pay the VAT and fee by invoice instead of requiring cash on delivery.


The console, controller and included stuff come in a plain gray, long box with the OUYA logo on top. Once opened I was greeted by a solid plastic sheet stating “Thank you for believing!”, hiding the console and controller beneath it. The whole packaging was rather unimpressive, which I appreciate: I’d rather hardware manufacturers save money on the “unboxing experience” and build a great product instead.

Besides the obvious console, controller and power adapter, everything is included to get started: a European plug, HDMI cable and 2 AA batteries to power the controller.



Included in the package was a short brochure with regulations for different regions and a 5-step “getting started” page. Connecting the console itself doesn’t really need any guide, since it has the usual ports: Power, Ethernet, USB, HDMI and a small port, which I assume is some variant of USB. I connected the power adapter, plugged the (included) HDMI cable into my AV receiver and the console was ready to go.


Getting the controller ready was slightly more difficult. It uses 2 regular AA batteries (included), but the brochure had no instructions on how or where to insert them. Fortunately a quick Google search answered that question - you have to remove the panels covering the right and left buttons/sticks and insert one AA battery into each “wing”. Not too hard to get wrong, but this could have been mentioned on the “getting started” page.



The OUYA is powered on by pressing its only button, located on the console’s top. After a few seconds of booting the TV screen asked me to long-press the controller’s power button in order to “pair” it with the console. A painless process, considering the Android-powered OUYA uses Bluetooth to communicate with its controllers.

The first setup step is to connect the console to a wireless network, followed by logging in (backers were asked to create their accounts during the pre-order process). There is also an option to create a new account with OUYA. Login/registration be skipped, though doing so disables software installations or purchases.

After these two steps OUYA checks for updates and - in my case - found and installed one. One reboot later I am ready to get on to the games!


Did I say that OUYA boots in a few seconds? Amazingly, this is faster than some Android phones I don’t want to mention (or remember). The user interface is simple, but intuitive: on the left side of the screen is the main menu with the items “Play”, “Discover”, “Manage” and a fourth one I don’t remember at the moment, but which is aimed at game developers.

As expected, selecting “Play” switches the screen to a grid view of ones games.