Mad Catz Mojo
We've had the Ouya and GameStick, but the Android micro-console revolution continues apiece thanks to the launch of the Mad Catz Mojo system. Basically an Android phone without a screen, this diminutive black box sits under your telly and brings the world of smartphone gaming to your television set. Does it succeed where its rivals have failed, and can it possibly justify the eye-watering price tag of £220? Read on to discover the answer.
Unlike the Ouya and GameStick - both of which have their own unique app stores - the M.O.J.O. connects to the Google Play marketplace which means you can access and download all of the content you've already purchased via your phone or tablet. This is great in theory because you avoid having to buy the same game twice, and you also don't need to enter your credit card details into several different app stores. What you get here is the the same experience you'd expect from your handset. That goes for the OS, as well - there's no custom user interface to be found; instead, the M.O.J.O. is running a relatively untouched version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
Despite its connection to Google's mobile operating system, the Mad Catz Mojo is intended as a games machine first and foremost. The console's bundled controller - known as the C.T.R.L.R. - is perfect for interactive entertainment, which is to be expected when you take into account that Mad Catz has made its name in the peripheral market. The pad's design is comfortable and robust, there are handy media playback buttons on the top edge and you can even connect it to your Android phone using the supplied clamp.
Under the hood, the M.O.J.O. is running some pretty impressive specs. It's powered by Nvidia's Tegra 4 chipset - the same one which graced the Nvidia Shield handheld last year - and that puts it at the forefront of Android 3D tech. Games run pretty swiftly, especially some of the more recent titles like Asphalt 8: Airborne and Dead Trigger 2. If you're keen on retro gaming then the M.O.J.O. can be used with the many Android-based emulators that are available for that old-school experience.
While the Mad Catz Mojo sounds like a fantastic idea in principle, the execution is rather flawed. For starters, the machine is incredibly difficult to get working properly straight out of the box because Google Play refuses to allow you to download most games due to the fact that the system doesn't have a touchscreen. You see, developers can specify to make their games incompatible with hardware which lacks such an interface - to understandably avoid scathing reviews - which makes sense, but does mean that games that support controllers but have a touchscreen main menu are inaccessible.
The only way around this issue is to root the console - a process which Mad Catz itself recommends, but requires quite a bit of legwork on behalf of the end user. Even when the machine is rooted, there are other problems to contend with. Interacting with the UI is tricky when using the C.T.R.L.R. joypad, as you're essentially navigating a phone menu system with an analogue stick. It's clunky and annoying, but you can at least connect Bluetooth mice and keyboards if you so wish.
Finally, there's the biggest stumbling block - the price. It may be rocking Tegra 4, but £220 for such a system is bordering on criminal, especially when you can now pick up a Nintendo Wii U for less. For an additional £100 you could own a PS4, which is almost certain to get top-quality games for the next half decade and also offers Blu-Ray and many other media streaming capabilities.