After owning a Ouya for a week I’ve returned it to Amazon for a refund. The Ouya had problems that I couldn’t get over. I could have waited and hoped some future update would have fixed those problems, but after dealing with Ouya support and reading their forums I wasn’t confident it would happen.

The Bad

Overscan

I wrote a whole post about my frustrations with overscan. The fact that it had the problem was frustrating enough, the response I received about the problem put me over the edge. This problem and the response is the majority reason I returned my Ouya.

Support

The lack of support is appalling. There are issues, such as the overscan problem,  that make the Ouya unusable for people. The response you receive, if any, is that they’re working on it. In the case of the overscan problem, it’s been about three months and three firmware updates with no fix. I did get a response about my problem with overscan, but I felt the Ouya representative was annoyed I was even bringing it up. It’s a problem with your TV after all.

The touch pad

The touch pad on the controller is an awesome concept. Their implementation is bad and almost unusable. It’s hard to reach and when you do get a finger on it the cursor flies around on the screen almost at random. Also, you have to really give it a good thump for it to detect a click.

Games

I personally didn’t care much for the games. My selection was very limited though because of the overscan problem.

The Interface

The interface was overly simplistic and somehow sluggish. I didn’t like that my side loaded apps were in a different spot than my Ouya Store apps. The store having some options to sort would be nice.

Wifi

The Ouya’s wifi is just plain bad. Side by side with an ASROCK 330 using a no name USB wifi dongle the Ouya had worse reception,  higher ping, and a slower speed. I had to use a wired connection for XBMC to properly play videos on the Ouya.

The Good

I don’t want to come off as an Ouya hating fan boy. The Ouya has some great ideas and some great qualities.

XBMC and Plex ran like champs. They self corrected for my overscan problem. They both played all of my videos without any long buffering or stutters. (once on a wired network)

The emulators are awesome. I tried everything from the Atari 2600 to the PSX, all worked fantastically and corrected for the overscan.

Where it went wrong for me

I have an old XBOX running XBMC I use for emulators, then I have an ASROCK 330 for XBMC. My hope with the Ouya was to combine those into one machine. As an emulator and XBMC box Ouya did well. The overscan and the other problems (especially the overscan) just bugged the hell out of me. I didn’t want to use something I felt was broken.

I think the Ouya as a concept will ultimately be successful. Either the Ouya 2 will correct all of the problems, or a competitor will appear that does. If nothing else, the Kickstarter shows the market for a set top entertainment device that is open and hackable, I just don’t think the current Ouya is it.

Short Answer: It’s really good.

I’ve been trying out XBMC on Ouya for the last few days. Overall I’m happy with it.

I’m using the Ouya on my den TV, a Vizio WV42LHDTVa, via HDMI. The Ouya is on a gigabit wired connection. XBMC is configured for a shared library via a MySQL server. The videos and thumbnails are stored on a SMB share on the same wired network.

The video quality is good. When using wifi it would take a good while to start videos and occasionally I would get a stutter during playback. Fortunately I already had a wired connection behind my TV and moving to that wired connection solved the problem. The odd thing about this is that the XBMC box that the Ouya is replacing had a USB wifi card that didn’t have those problems.

Sound is good for me, but considering I’m just using the built in speakers in my TV I’m not saying much.

The UI is snappy. Only complaint is that I wish I had a remote instead of a controller. I would bet that we see some strong USB remote support in the future.

What don’t I like? Not much really. I mentioned the remote support. Some of my thumbnail art is not displaying, though I would bet this is because the library is from XBMC 12 and the Ouya is running version 13. I wish the Ouya had a better interface for launching XBMC. Being able to put it in an easy to get to favorites or even the play menu would be nice.

 

I have a shared MySQL database library for the various XBMC installs I have. One of the reasons I purchased an Ouya was as a cheap replacement to an older XBMC box I had. Things got interesting when I tried to edit my advancedsettings.xml file on the Ouya. How to do it? There isn’t a text editor or SSH access. I had to copy the file from the Ouya to another PC, edit it with what I needed, and then copy it back.

Keep in mind that what I’m going to describe below will install XBMC version 13 on the Ouya. If the other installs around your house are not using version 13 this may mess up your database. I had version 12 installs and my DB was fine, good luck!

  1. Backup your XBMC database.
  2. Install XBMC for Ouya. This is a dead simple tutorial that worked for me.
  3. If you don’t have one already, create a shared folder on your PC. This is where we will put the advancedsettings.xml for editing.
  4. On the Ouya, launch XBMC. Go to Settings->Appearance->File Lists and pock mark ‘Show hidden files and directories’.
  5. Go back to the main XBMC menu, go to Settings and then File Manager
  6. Add two sources, one should be the shared folder on your PC, the other should the userdata XBMC folder on the Ouya.
  7. The XBMC folder on the Ouya is /sdcard/Android/data/org.xbmc.xbmc/files/.xbmc/userdata
  8. In the shared folder on your PC, make an advancedsettings.xml file. I just copied one from another XBMC install.
  9. Back on the Ouya, copy the advancedsettings.xml file into the userdata folder. Do this by highlighting the file, then pressing the Ouya button on the controller, then select copy from the menu that pops up.
  10. Exit and then restart the Ouya. You’re done.
Getting to the built in file manager

Getting to the built in file manager

Showing all files

Showing all files

Copying Files

Copying Files

 

 

I recently purchased the retail version of the Ouya console. I had some high hopes of using it as a cheap XBMC box and emulator console. Sadly, as soon as I turned it on I noticed a glaring problem, I have about %5 overscan on all sides of my TV.

Ouya Overscan

Not cool at all

I’m not the only person with this problem according to the Internet. There are several posts on Reddit and the Ouya  forums from others. Ouya originally took the stance that the overscan problem was the TVs fault. Now, I can see where technically it is, but every other device I have plugged into this TV has worked fine. In my opinion, if several other consoles, computers, and DVD players work OK and the Ouya does not, then its the Ouya with the problem.

My TV has no option to turn off overscan, this includes its service menu. Interestingly, I have another, newer, Vizio TV that works OK with the Ouya.

Ouya has made an attempt to recognize the problem. The Ouya has a whole section of the video menu about overscan fixes you can do in your TV. In this menu is also an ‘Overscan Compensation’ setting you can turn on or off that does nothing.

The good news in this situation is that XBMC has its own method for changing the screen size to compensate for overscan.  In Settings/System you’ll find Video Calibration. It’ll allow you to move some arrows around on your screen to fit the video to your display. I really wish Ouya had something like this built in. Several game makers have recognized this problem and have made changes to their games to fix (Bomb Squad for instance).

What to do? I really want to like the Ouya. I’ve followed it since the Kickstarter, looking forward to buying it for almost a year. I’m torn between hoping and waiting for a fix or just sending it back to Amazon for a refund.

Ouya Support thread about Overscan