Call it a coincidence, but just as China lifts its ban on foreign game consoles, one of its own biggest manufacturers is ready to release exactly such a device. The Tron micro-console from Huawei is an uncomplicated cylindrical canister that runs Android 4.2.3 and outputs a 1080p video feed to your nearest TV via HDMI. The plastic housing contains a Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 — which connects to the accompanying controller — and even a full-sized USB 3.0 port. Impressively, Huawei aims to sell the Tron console for less than $120, though the primary market for it will be the company's native China.
The specs and price position the Tron directly against the Ouya Android console, which has had a fair number of issues, not least of which is the scarcity of console-class games that can really harness the controller's functionality or the Tegra chip's added graphical power. Tron doesn't get off to a stellar start, with an interface that looks to have been pulled straight out of your favorite arcade cabinet, and things don't get better when you look at the library of games Huawei has loaded on it.
Less than $120, but you might have to go to China to buy one
I played a 2D hack-and-slash title called Red Blade as well as the zombie shooter Dead Trigger 2, the latter being a game that Nvidia has regularly promoted because of its Tegra 4 optimizations. Though rudimentary in gameplay, Red Blade definitely benefited from the gamepad, which felt responsive and comfortable in the hand. Dead Trigger 2, on the other hand, was quite awkward to direct and aim with the right analog stick, though I'd put that down to the game itself rather than Huawei's hardware. Intriguingly, the Chinese company has also put a massive round touchpad at the top of its controller to facilitate navigation.
Overall, the Huawei Tron is shaping up to offer a very cheap solution to getting some Android gaming hooked up to your TV, It may not evoke too many pangs of desire from developed markets, but for price-sensitive consumers in China, it could prove quite popular. Its clean design and surprisingly ergonomic controller make for a good start.