Google is making another attempt to bring Android into the living room, and Razer is game.
During Google’s I/O developer conference this morning, the gaming and accessories company announced that it is working on a yet-to-be-named set-top box based on the new Android TV platform. Not surprisingly, Razer’s “microconsole” will focus on gaming, allowing you to play “hardcore” and casual Android games on the TV. But it will also stream movies and music and provide access to apps.
This is the first Android-specific piece of hardware from Razer, which has traditionally built products and services for the PC gaming market. But with it, Razer wades into territories where Android has had very little to no success — TV and games. The microconsole’s prospect for success is also hard to judge based on the little information we were given today. For example, Razer didn’t talk about which streaming services the box would support or whether it is developing its own game controllers and storefront for finding and downloading games.
We do know that users will be able to navigate the system via a special app on their Android smartphones or tablets. With Android TV’s built-in support for voice controls, they’ll also be able to speak commands, much like Amazon’s Fire TV.
The microconsole is being designed by the same in-house team that developed the Razer Edge gaming tablet and Project Christine modular PC concept. The company plans to launch the device this fall at an affordable price, in hopes of drawing a wide range of customers. But an affordable price tag doesn’t guarantee success.
As with Google’s attempt to bring Android to the living room, Razer isn’t the only company to try to bring Android games to the bigger screen. Ouya and Green Throttle are just a couple of the startups that have been there and done that, with mixed results.
The $99, Android-based Ouya microconsole drew a lot of early interest, raising nearly $8.6 million during its Kickstarter campaign. But in the end, it didn’t really deliver on its promises. In her review of the Ouya, Lauren Goode concluded that she didn’t see the console having broad appeal.
Meanwhile, Green Throttle, which aimed to bring Android games to the TV via a $40 Bluetooth controller, suffered from a lack of games to make it worthwhile. The company was acquired by Google in March.
Razer believes its 16 years of experience in developing gaming hardware and software will help it create a compelling product.
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