Given the moderate success of the Ouya, every hardware manufacturer with a few coins to rub together wants to jump on the Android game-console bandwagon. Peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz is no exception. However, if you want to invest in its upcoming Android box, it'll set you back $250.
Most gamers know Mad Catz as the company that sells third-party console controllers resembling the ones that come from the console makers themselves. In all fairness, the company has put out some good products here and there, but it's never been a heavy hitter in the hardware market.
Still, Mad Catz is looking to change its reputation by releasing a slick, state-of-the-art gaming machine. The M.O.J.O. (which does not seem to stand for anything) is an Android console that allows you to play any Android game, regardless of whether it comes from the Google Play Store, the Amazon App Store or a third-party side-load.
The system sports some impressive specs, including a 1.8GHz nVidia Tegra 4 processor and 16GB of internal storage, with support for microSD expansions up to 128GB. Compared to the Ouya, the M.O.J.O. can run much more demanding games at much higher settings.
For $250, you get the console, an HDMI cable and the unique C.T.R.L.R. controller (which resembles an Xbox 360 controller, but with more buttons). In addition to supporting the M.O.J.O., the C.T.R.L.R. is also compatible with Android smartphones and tablets, over Bluetooth.
The system supports full 1080p-HD resolution, and since it's an Android device, you can run any app you like, from Netflix to word processors. Mouse and keyboard support is built-in, as is Bluetooth wireless.
On paper, the M.O.J.O. sounds like one of the most advanced Android consoles on the marketMad Catz. The obvious question, though, is: Who will want to spend $250 on an Android console when it's cheaper to buy a tablet or even a traditional console?
Android has some great games, but generally speaking, they are also relatively lightweight. Even graphically intensive games like "Max Payne" or "Need for Speed" can usually scale to run on a wide variety of Android systems. Buying a really powerful Android console to run mobile games is like buying an industrial Shop-Vac to clean a coat closet.
If you want to dive into the world of emulators, having a powerful system to emulate PlayStation or N64 games could be a boon. If you're the kind of person who likes emulating games, though, you probably already have a powerful gaming PC and the know-how to plug it into your living room TV.
Keep in mind, too, that the M.O.J.O. costs $250. The best-known Android console on the market right now, the Ouya, costs $100. You can get a barebones Xbox 360 or PS3 for $200 — or less if you catch a sale. These consoles run games and stream videos; a PS3 can even play Blu-ray discs.
A M.O.J.O. might be an attractive choice for hardcore Android users who have no aversion to rooting their devices and installing demanding emulation-software. This seems like a relatively small market, though.
At $250 a pop, Mad Catz does not appear to be targeting first-time console owners. The M.O.J.O. launches on December 10, 2013; traditional console fans will probably have already picked up either a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One in November.
The M.O.J.O. looks like an ambitious system, but it's hard to say who would want it.