Enjoy a big-screen gaming experience with small HDMI dongle, PlayJam’s GameStick. This is one of the newest devices of its kind…if curious to know more about this portable game console, then just keep on reading.
Earlier, it was just TV for gaming… but ever since smartphones technology has been developed; traditional gaming consoles and its content begun to vanish at most. And why not? As they were so expensive, also there were very limited choices for the game content. Now, game lovers can enjoy big-screen gaming experience with the portable, open and most affordable TV games console ever created. It offers the most economical way for playing games directly on your TV at just $79. It’s none other than a GameStick – a kind of microconsole that plugs directly into the back of a TV via the HDMI port, it also comes with its own Bluetooth controller. Being developed by PlayJam; GameStick is powered by the PlayJam Games Platform that runs its own version of the Android operating system. GameStick allows users to access and download content via its collected store-front via Wi-Fi with content stocked up locally for offline access. GameStick is really one of its kinds; want to know more…just checkout its detailed reviews and specs given below.
Traditional consoles are really big and difficult to handle. Portability is the major advantage offered by GameStick, as people mostly are on the go. It looks like an enlarged thumb drive and plugs directly into an open HDMI slot on your TV. GameStick is of course your big screen games console, however enough small that you can put it in your pocket. It’s really very small! In fact, very small… that it could easily fit inside its own controller, so game lovers can take all their games with them to any TV they like, anywhere. Just plug the stick part into an HDMI port on your TV, take the controller and start to play.
There are two major elements: a controller and the console itself. It is a wireless controller, with a slot on the top that holds a removable HDMI dongle. The controller consists of two analog sticks, a directional pad, A/B/X/Y face buttons, shoulder buttons, along with system buttons for power and menus. The controller is unique in terms of looks, also flatter and more rectangular than others. Being not curved, it’s just a huge slab that isn’t comfortable to hold, except that here buttons are placed nearish to where your thumb goes.
It connects to the GameStick via Bluetooth. You may be glad to know that any Bluetooth game controller can work with the system, so if you have an extra PS3 controller, you can simply connect it as a second controller. It is believed that GameStick will support iOS and Android devices as controllers.
Another best thing is that it can support upto four controllers connected at the same time. Considering this, PlayJam will also sell a controller as a separate accessory. In the box, you will get accessories like the docking station that provides wireless charging to the controller, 3 USB ports, an SD card reader, Ethernet port and HDMI. The dock is supposed to connect with a variety of devices such as USB keyboards, webcams, microphones and dance mats. Console and controller will be available in four different colors: black, white, red, and a ‘Kickstarter Special’ green and black.
It is true that the console is portable, but it’s still pretty big to hold. It is much thinner than an Xbox 360 controller, but somewhat wider and a bit shorter. Most of the action is available at the front face of the controller, it also attracts users with its glossy finish. The analog sticks seems to be made from a slightly softer, matte-finish material. There are four LEDs on the bottom edge of the controller that indicate when it’s charging – either you do it wirelessly, or through the micro-USB port. Moreover, they allow you know which player you’re controlling.
Inside the GameStick is a modest ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with Mali-400 graphics, and 8GB of storage, expandable with a 32 microSD card. If that’s not enough, you can also get 32 GB extra microSD slot. You can use the built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi radio to add games and other contents. Also, it is integrated with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips. The chip is competitive with the Nvidia Tegra 3 found in the Ouya, which works fine for a lot of mobile games.
Software-wise, the GameStick is powered by Google’s Android 4.1 operating system – Jelly Bean. Right now, PlayJam claims to have 200 supported games in the pipeline, and partnerships and negotiations with more than 250 developers. It has a custom designed UI, which bears a striking similarity to the tile-based interface used by the Xbox 360.
To check out games, there are 4 tabs running on the top: Featured, Play Now, Popular and All. As the title suggests, they are really just quick filters to help you find what you want. As right now there’s not a lot to browse, however once you’ve built a collection, you might desire you had some more detailed search filters.
For finding something specific, the all section is available at least in alphabetical order, but that’s controllable only if the game count remains small. Also to find things in order is hard, here the ordering goes left-to-right across the rows of games, and because of the way things are shown in three columns, your eye naturally scans up and down, instead of vertically.
Once you get a game, you can buy it with money in your GameStick wallet or grab it directly if it’s free. One thing for sure is that however you already bought some game titles; you’ll have to pay again to get them on GameStick. Even, it is true that there aren’t a lot of free titles for games, excluding Shadowgun and one other game, everything costs between $2 and $6, including some titles that are even free on the Google Play store. Nearly all the games on the GameStick store costs money; and for some reason, games don’t install once you download them – you need to do that manually afterwards.
To purchase anything, you’ll first need to top up a digital wallet, and then type your password with the controller each single time you make a purchase. If you hand the controller over to your kid, it would not be possible for them to go on a spending extravaganza, however as an adult, using your analog stick on a virtual keyboard repeatedly is just irritating.
At the time of GameStick is up and running, its plain gray UI strips out any hint of Android for big, TV-friendly labels. There are 4 different tabs for settings, your account information, a couple of media players, and the games catalog, an arrangement that’s normally very visually fixed and easy to navigate. An interface is fundamentally OK; still there are some strange and annoying quirks. Its media section holds just two apps: the own software of GameStick and the XBMC-based Tofu player, both of which read files from either a microUSB card or the dock. It is expected that Facebook and Twitter integration will come after launch. Overall, you can say that the GameStick is pretty serious about being a gaming-only device.
Players will see pages of popular or featured titles right on the Games tab, containing a list of everything you have installed, and a single section holding every game on the console. There aren’t any other genre divisions or sorting options, actually this won’t be a problem for the small pre-launch library. Though, as the store grows, it would be good to facilitate users at least scratch an itch for platformers or racing games without going through the whole catalog.
While the GameStick hardware pales when compared to Ouya’s Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, PlayJam stated that it is enough capable of running graphically-intensive Android games at HD resolution without paying soooooooooo much. GameStick will be the cheapest Android home console in the market – and perhaps the system would be most suitable for children as it offers an easy-to-find parental control and ratings system, and the controller itself is big and approachable. You can also say that the GameStick is partially geared towards kids.
The GameStick may not be appealing for some, but its price is the only hope, really, because just at $79, it’s quite affordable. It is an optimistic and usable alternative to buy an Android tablet just to play games. If PlayJam will focus on securing some better, more sophisticated titles, rather than just casual games; then GameStick could prove that “small” doesn’t mean “lightweight.” Actually, if you’re sitting down to play games on the big screen; you may possibly get the time and volition to throw yourself into what you’re playing. Also, don’t forget that GameStick is a totally open platform. So, if you are interested in creating or playing games, you will love GameStick. The GameStick is a great solution if you want fun, family-friendly games for the children or spare room.