Announced at CES this year, the ASUS Cube has managed to get a decent amount of attention for a Google TV Box. Formerly known as the Qube, this angular, textured device came to market toward the end of last month, and I've been living with it ever since, trying to get a feel for the product and decide whether ASUS has something special on their hands.
In reviewing the Cube I wanted to answer two main questions that I think underlie every GTV device: Is the user experience a good one, and does the product successfully make Google TV something I actually want to use on a daily basis?
Last week, we took a look at the nominees for Ouya's 10-day developer competition, Create. Today, we have the winners! These game devs will receive some undisclosed amount of money (out of a pot of $45,000) and almost certainly end up on the launch version of the Ouya console. So, what are they? Well, let's break them down by category.
"Pop Your Eyes Out" Award: Pipnis
We covered this one in our roundup last week, though we're at a loss to explain how it didn't win the "Best Couch with Friends" Award.
Activision has invited players to "say Hello to the BIG BALLS" (emphasis not added, we promise) with Wipeout, the Pitfall maker's latest entry into the Play Store.
The game is based on ABC's television show of the same name, in which contestants (typically in colorful dress) haphazardly schlep through various obstacles including big balls, swinging platforms, "topple towers," and various rubberized battering instruments. Activision's game looks to bring that experience to your mobile device, giving you the fun of trying to avoid wipeouts, while also retaining the option to view them in super slow motion and snap screenshots.
You're crazy for this one, ARCHOS! Today, the company most known for releasing the best cheap Android tablets before the Nexus 7 swooped in and drove a wedge between the concepts of "cheap" and "inexpensive" announced the TV Connect. This thing is designed to plug into your set and essentially turn it into a giant Android tablet. With a remote control. No, it's not Google TV. What.
The TV Connect will come with a 1.5GHz "Multi Core" processor of indeterminate origin, 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage, and Android 4.1.
You guys remember Google TV, right? LG does. While the platform hasn't exactly seen stellar adoption rates, the company is still pushing forward with it by integrating it into its new line of television sets. Previously, only two sized models including the software: 47" and 55". Next year, 42", 50", and 60" options will be added to the mix. The hardware will also feature a ridiculously thin bezel, just in case the RAZR M didn't satisfy your dreams of a world without borders.
More than a few senior citizens got their first tablet in the form of a Kindle Fire last Christmas, and I'm sure a few more will be getting HD versions this year. Maybe that's why the powers that be at Sony Pictures chose to make the official Wheel of Fortune mobile game exclusive to Amazon's Appstore, at least until January 13th, when it will hit the Play Store as well. Wordsmiths can purchase the game for $2.99.
Today, in a post to the Official Google TV Blog, Google announced officially the new functionality offered by the YouTube update we covered yesterday, along with a few other treats set to hit Google TV users starting with LG devices "this week."
First among the enhancements is the addition of Voice Search, allowing users to "simply speak to watch anything." Voice Search recognizes commands for opening apps, playing YouTube videos, visiting websites, and even finding channels or specific TV shows.
Zeebox, a social TV companion app that's already found popularity in the UK has officially hit the US, aiming to make a splash thanks to monetary and promotional backing from both NBC and Comcast.
Essentially, Zeebox serves as an auxiliary guide to TV enjoyment as well as a social platform where users can see which shows are hot, who's watching them, and what they're saying in response. Users can see what their friends (and everyone else) are viewing or planning to view, chat with friends, start a viewing party, or tweet reactions.
While GoogleTV still hasn't really taken off, the idea of an Android-powered set-top box is still a good one if properly executed. Diamond Multimedia recently tried its hand at such an execution with the AMP1000 (Android Media Player), its first venture into the Android realm.
But, like with any new project attempt, there is plenty of room for failure. As we've seen so many times before, what seems like a good idea on paper can easily be a disaster in execution.
Ouya just can't stay out of the headlines, can it? After recently announcing that the TV-centric Android gaming system would come with built-in OnLive support, the company is back to say that it's partnering with Square Enix to bring Final Fantasy III to your TV. If you live in Japan, this might be old news, but it marks the first time anywhere else that the game will be available via a television-based console.