The press is going gaga over the Fuze Tomahawk F1 console. A Chinese-built gaming console, that claims to “merge Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Android in one!”
So wrong, I don’t know where to begin with. Oh wait, I do… the OUYA!
Ah yes, the hindsight-is-20/20 OUYA. While the press drank the Kool-Aid, and helped OUYA raise millions in crowdfunding, many quietly saw what OUYA was. OUYA, was, from the get-go, a first-gen Nexus 7… without the display.
Most of those in the silent majority saw what was coming; OUYA seemed to pencil out initially, at $99. But, as the Tegra 3 tablets (like Nexus 7) began to depreciate below the $99 mark, it made zero sense at all to own an OUYA. After all, you could buy a used Nexus 7, plug in an HDMI adapter, and have the same gaming performance – often with a newer version of Android that was faster, more TV-friendly, and more secure. Not to mention, a Nexus 7 is still a tablet, with a battery, that can go with you.
My how history loves to repeat itself. Fuze is the new OUYA.
Fuze, like OUYA, was armed with a great PR firm, one that made sure all the right press covered it day one. And that’s an important part of capitalism… The market decides what is the best solution, not a group of overseers. The best marketed one, however, often does win.
Fuze, however, is powered by nearly the same chip as OUYA – two generations newer. The Tegra K1 is a near-direct replacement for the Tegra 3. And the same classes of devices are powered by it. The Nexus 9, and NVIDIA’s own Shield Tablet, use the K1 as its CPU. Its beefier cousin, the X1, powers the Google Pixel C.
Now, you might have been able to have made the case, that, at $140, the FUZE F1 would be a contender… had it been powered by the Tegra X1. But it isn’t. And we know why. A set-top box powered by the Tegra X1 would be over $200 at retail today. FUZE had no choice but to use the K1.
Considering you can walk into Best Buy, and purchase a micro-HDMI-toting Shield Tablet today, it’s impossible to justify FUZE. For $60 more than FUZE, you get a fully-functional tablet – built by NVIDIA itself, to NVIDIA’s standards. It gets Android updates from… NVIDIA. Reliably. With the latest updates, often co-developed by Google long before those AOSP releases are made public.
So, for $199, you have a device that is better in every regard than Fuze, and portable, and more reliable. Incontestably, based on technical standards. Why would anyone buy Fuze?
I am not saying micro-consoles don’t make sense in China. I actually think Snapdragon chips in China would make for great micro-console opportunities, seeing as most Chinese customers do not have smartphones capable enough to run demanding Android games. But that is a sub-$99 market that needs to be filled with cheaper chips than even the K1 can handle today.
Look, NVIDIA offered me Jetson TK1s to prototype something similar. I appreciate the effort. I’m not bashing innovation. But if you want to make an Android gaming console, it has to be with chipsets that actually break new ground in Android gaming performance. A chipmaker, and likely Google itself, have to be willing to play ball there… or it won’t happen.
Fuze is not the future of gaming. It’s not the past either. It’s irrelevant. Hopefully someday the press will ignore the keys waved in front of them from a flashy PR firm… just don’t ignore my PR firm, please.