Mad Catz M.O.J.O. micro-console available for pre-order, $250

Credit: Source: Mad Catz

I admit when I first wrote about Mad Catz M.O.J.O. (then called Project M.O.J.O.) I was somewhat skeptical; I still don't think it's clear that the world needs even one dedicated micro-console to run Android apps on their TV, and MOJO is the third I know of (Ouya and Gamestick being the other two).

Mad Catz clearly disagrees with me and it has now started taking pre-orders for the M.O.J.O.. The price is $249.99 and the release date is December 10th, 2013.

So the first question we have to ask is, why $250 when Ouya is $100 and GameStick is $79?

On paper at least, M.O.J.O. looks like a much nicer system than either of the competitors. Inside it has a 1.8 Ghz Tegra 4 and 16 GB of storage space, with 2 GB of RAM. It has a USB 3.0 (as well as a 2.0) slot and a microSD slot so adding storage shouldn't be a problem. M.O.J.O. comes with the Google Play store pre-installed as well as Nvidia's TegraZone. Mad Catz points out that you can add Amazon's App Store or any other store that sells Android apps.

But what I think really sets M.O.J.O. apart is the controller, called the C.T.R.L.R Mobile Gamepad. The controller looks more or less like a clone of the Xbox 360 controller (offset analog sticks, d-pad, 4 face buttons) but adds a row of media controls (Play/Pause, FF, Rewind) for when you're using M.O.J.O. to watch Netflix or something.

But what's really special about the C.T.R.L.R is that you can pair it with your phone as well as with the M.O.J.O., and it has a clip that holds your phone as you play. Essentially this turns the controller into the equivalent of a MOGA Pro gamepad (which retails for $50).

So in a way you get two gaming experiences for your $250, but is this a better deal than the Ouya? At $250 you also have to compare it to the Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, both of which can be had for $250 or less. Heck, with any luck you'll have to compare it to Sony's Vita TV before too long (Sony seems to be re-considering its decision to not launch Vita TV in North America and Europe).

I think it's a hard sell at launch, in part because of the much talked-about fragmentation of the Android market. How many Android developers are creating products that take advantage of a Tegra 4 CPU? I'm guessing not a lot, right now. But as faster Android devices become more common that may change. At the same time, the price of the M.O.J.O. should come down some.

Alternatively, maybe this whole 'micro-console' movement will just collapse. At $80-$100 GameStick and Ouya are almost impulse buys, but $250 is an investment. I won't be pre-ordering a M.O.J.O.; I guess I'm still somewhat skeptical. What about you?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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