CES 2015: Android Gaming Gets a Boost From the Obox

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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CES 2015: Android Gaming Gets a Boost From the Obox

While it's safe to say that the Ouya had about as much impact in the gaming market as, say, dropping a knitting needle into a snowbank the size of South Korea, there was also no doubt that the market wasn't going to take the lack of impact lying down. But with the Ouya not doing so well, there are others looking to get in and bring Android gaming not only to the living room, but also to the portable market with a pair of new developments, both titled the Obox.

The Obox comes available in two different flavors, a handheld version and a full-on home console version. Both made by Chinese tech firm with the unlikely name of Snail, both offer up a very different but oddly similar experience. The portable version, known by its more complete name the Obox W3D, is powered by a similar architecture as the Shield Tablet, particularly a 32 bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip. It's backed up by a screen that can not only display at 1080p resolution, but also show in glasses-free 3D, which makes it similar to the 3DS in that regard. Additionaly set to arrive is Bluetooth connectivity and 4G LTE, as well as cameras in front and back, much in the same way a standard cell phone might.

The home console version, meanwhile, reportedly measures about the same size as an Xbox One, and is likewise powered by the NVIDIA K1, with plans for multiple versions to sell at multiple price points. There will be room for two different processors and HDMI set-ups, the ability to display 4K video, and four separate hard drives allowing for storage at intervals between 500 gigabytes and four full terabytes. The console Obox will offer up 3D as well as 4K video, according to reports, though again that will likely change based on the versions that hit. Retail prices aren't yet available, though reports put these anywhere between $99 and $499 depending on the configuration selected. Release dates, meanwhile, are a bit more fleshed-out, with the Chinese market set to get these first--in the second quarter of 2015--followed up by the United States and Mexico in the third quarter, with no word on a European release.

While the W3D is a noteworthy idea in its own right, the clear market-shaker is the idea of a $99 Android gaming console that can also work in 3D and display 4K video, making it a pretty exciting little option for home theater users. Imagine streaming your 4K Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and similar video through such a box, controllable from a standard remote. That could well put a rather pronounced destabilization on the market as we know it, and even give the idea of Android gaming consoles--still not completely out of the picture as yet--a fighting chance to get back in and stay back in the market. Naturally, a lot of this release's success will be determined by just how nice it plays with Google Play, the Amazon AppStore and things like that; if this becomes a box that stores our videos and video games alike, now that's a picture that could be exciting. If it's got a lot of unpleasant paywalls and the like tossed in, it will be much, much less so. Naturally, only time will tell just how far a release like this can go, when it gets off of the show floor and onto shelves in another three to nine months depending on location. But if it can keep all its p's and q's together, the Obox may well be an item to beat.

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