This year several new upstarts will attempt to take your attention away from the new game consoles (and the older ones) coming from Sony and Microsoft. Let's see how they stack up.
After a last-minute delay, the Nvidia Shield will finally (hopefully) be released later this month. Shield is an Android-based (get used to that phrase) portable game console with a 5-inch screen and built-in, Xbox-like controls.
Why you should care: Shield will be one of the first devices on the market to house Nvidia's latest and (most likely) greatest ARM processor, the Tegra 4. Also, if you own an Nvidia GTX 650 or later, you'll be able to stream your PC games directly to the console over Wi-Fi. We're talking full (but select) PC games here.
Why you should run for the hills: PC game streaming will only be in beta when the console launches, and the question remains of whether $299 is yet low enough to be successful.
The Ouya is the very successfully Kickstarter-funded Android-based video game console that connects to your TV with an HDMI cable. It comes with one Ouya-made (Ouya is also the name of the company) controller.
Why you should care: The Ouya costs only $100 and pretty much anyone can develop for it, even you. Also, all the games are free to try (you can play any game for an hour before most games ask you to fork some cash over) and TowerFall (currently an Ouya exclusive) is one of the best games of 2013.
Why you should run for the hills: Too many games not worth your time, and the squeaky, cheap controller will leave you (and your fingers) in a particularly depressive state.
The PlayJam GameStick may be the smallest console ever built. The Android-based (I told you!) console is a bit larger than a typical thumbdrive, and for $80, you get it and a controller.
Why you should care: The GameStick has what is probably the smallest footprint of any console to date, making it extremely portable.
Why you should run for the hills: The dual-core processor inside probably won't set your hair ablaze from a graphical standpoint. And though it should launch with about 100 games, big-name titles on the system will be few, at least in the beginning. Also, the jury's still out on whether the NES-inspired controller is up to snuff.
Mad Catz, mostly known for its line of game controllers -- notably, its awesome fighting sticks -- is launching its own (you called it) Android-based console, called the Mojo, this year.
Why you should care: Mad Catz is known for making pretty great controllers, so the likelihood of the Mojo's being of desirable quality is high. Also, Mad Catz has yet to announce which processor the Mojo will ship with, so there is potential for it to buck the cheap-CPU trend of most micro consoles and go with something with real meaty power like the Tegra 4 or Snapdragon 800.
Why you should run for the hills: No price has been announced. Depending on the processor chosen, it could be expensive.
OK, I'm not going to mince words here: $250 is a lot for a Tegra 3-based anything. That processor is showing its age nearly two years after its debut, and last month the Wikipad launched with it under the hood. The Wikipad is a portable tablet with a built-in controller, yes, running Android.
Why you should care: The Wikipad includes full Google Play compatibility.
Why you should run for the hills: That $249 is a lot for a tablet/portable game console housing a Tegra 3, especially when the Tegra 4-based Nvidia Shield is only $50 away. Also, that wide controller doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence; however, admittedly I've yet to actually use it.