To date, Android consoles have yet to take over the living room… at least, they haven't in my house. I have a number of Android consoles such as the OUYA, the Gamestick and Nvidia's original SHIELD handheld console. Save for the SHIELD and its GRID-based cloud gaming, the other solutions are collecting dust. I don't play them. My kids don't play them. Everyone is instead on the PC or playing games on the non-Android consoles.
Don't take this the wrong way -- there are a number of excellent Android games on Google Play. The Modern Combat and N.O.V.A. titles come to mind, as do Ravensword: Shadowlands, Dead Trigger 2, The Dark Knight Returns and loads more. But I typically play these on my phone or tablet, so forgive me if I seem a little doubtful that another Android console is hitting the market.
However, when Razer announced its Forge TV set-top-box, I quickly raised an eyebrow. If anyone could energize the Android console market, it would be Razer. Its controllers and gaming mice and keyboards are top-notch, and I expect no less from the company's Android TV-based device. Customers can pre-purchase the set-top-box now for $99.99 or get the console/controller bundle for $149.99. (The standalone Serval controller will sell for $79.99 when available.)
Inside, the new Forge TV consists of a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. There's also a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI 1.4 port and a gigabit Ethernet port. Connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.1 + HS and dual-band Wireless AC. All of this is backed by Google's Android 5.0 "Lollipop" operating system.
This console's closest competitor seems to be the Nvidia SHIELD set-top-box. Nvidia's device relies on a Tegra X1 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. Other hardware features include a microSD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, an IR Receiver and gigabit Ethernet. Connectivity includes dual-band Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1/BLE.
Needless to say, these two devices show that the Android gaming market isn't giving up on the living room. On the contrary, vendors seem to be trying to kick the gaming PC out of the living room, allowing owners to stream their favorite PC games from the bedroom or elsewhere in the house. This is something the SHIELD series has offered since day one, and a cool feature the Razer device will accomplish via its Razer Cortex: Stream technology.
By comparing both, you can see that Razer's answer is $149 for the bundle, while Nvidia's console/controller bundle is $199.99. If gamers are willing to spend another $100 on their Android gaming fix, they can get the SHIELD bundle with 500 GB of storage. The Razer Forge TV bundle with a second Serval controller is $229.
Razer's Forge TV bundle is expected to ship on May 5, 2015, whereas the standalone Forge TV will arrive a bit earlier, on April 29, 2015. To pre-purchase either device, head here.
UPDATE, 4/23/15, 9:30pm EST: Clarified the bundle price.