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Mad Catz hopes simplicity will sell its Android game console (hands-on)

Mad Catz hopes simplicity will sell its Android game console (hands-on)

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Unlike the Ouya, the Gamepop, the GameStick, the Wikipad, the Nvidia Shield, and practically every other Android gaming device that's coming out of the woodwork these days, Mad Catz has an incredibly simple pitch.The company's Project Mojo is a tiny lightweight box that plays the very same Android games and apps on your TV screen that you could get on a smartphone or tablet. There's no fancy controller necessary, no subscription required, and no proprietary store. Google Play and the Amazon Appstore are on board. "You buy the games from wherever you damn well please," says Mad Catz pitchman Alex Verrey. "We bring the hardware, you bring the software."

Of course, peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz would prefer that you buy more hardware than just the Mojo itself, and here at E3 2013, it's touting the utility of Bluetooth Smart. With the new Mad Catz Ctrlr, a gamepad which can connect to the microconsole and other devices using that latest version of Bluetooth, the company claims it can recreate a responsive feeling akin to that of an Xbox 360 controller. While the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii managed to shoehorn earlier versions of Bluetooth into excellent controllers, it's true that the Mad Catz peripheral felt more responsive than some of the cheap Bluetooth gamepads we've used in the past. Mad Catz is also building a mouse function into the Ctrlr — just flip a switch — to make up for the lack of a touchpad.

There are plenty of other options, though. With two USB 2.0 ports, you can plug in any input device Android supports, including a PC mouse and keyboard. "There's no secret sauce," says Verrey. The system will run on the latest version of Android and have a more powerful mobile processor than anything else on the market, Mad Catz promises. There's "no less than 16GB of onboard storage" and a microSD slot to add more, as well as microUSB, hardwired Ethernet, the all-important HDMI port, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a headphone jack which could come in handy for bedrooms or dorms. It doesn't have a price yet — and with all this competition for cheap Android hardware, price could be key — but we're looking forward to seeing if simplicity will sell the Mojo when it arrives this holiday season. The Ctrlr will ship in summer, and will also appear later in a Mojo bundle.