Fresh out of Google’s I/O Conference comes a cautious step into the world of living-room gaming. Razer is best known for its work on high-end gaming PCs, laptops and tablets, and it’s just announced a micro-console along the lines of the Amazon Fire TV under Google’s substantial aegis. The console will run Android TV, giving it a full suite of streaming capabilities, and that’s about what we know about it right now.
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Given the fact that Google’s working with Razer on this, we can assume that there’s going to be a decent focus on gaming. Razer has become quite good at cramming high-end graphics capability into a small form factor, so it will be interesting to see the specs on this new machine when they’re announced. The company has promised that the device will be affordable.
“This is a console of the future,” Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO said in a statement. “Built on Google’s incredible Android TV platform, the Razer micro-console incorporates not only hardcore and casual gaming, but music, movies and other entertainment and social applications, all on an affordable system.”
Even as the PS4 and Xbox One duke it out for dominance in what we’ll now call the “high-end game console” space (formerly just the “console” space), smaller competitors from big companies are jumping into the ring. First we had Amazon Fire TV, now this, and we can assume that the next version of Apple TV will include some sort of gaming capability. There’s also the Ouya, but…well…poor Ouya.
The basic idea of the micro-console is this: people like video games, but many just aren’t into spending the amount of money required to stay current with consoles. They also like streaming video, so that makes a gaming component an excellent feature for selling your streaming box. It won’t be able to run the fanciest new games, but these companies are banking on most people not caring. Essentially, these companies are hoping that there is an entirely new device category that sits somewhere between a Roku and a PS4, with customers that like a little of both.
I’m a little skeptical about how well the game mechanics here will hit the right market — obviously the best way to combine streaming video with games is to play Candy Crush while watching Law and Order — but I’d guess that Google is going to go for a slightly heavier gaming focus than Amazon did with the Fire TV. Razer is a well respected brand in the gaming community, and choosing a company with that kind of cred isn’t a coincidence. We’ll see if Razer can segue that reputation into building a microconsole that gamers can get behind.