The Good Compact size; inexpensive; easy to set up; includes cables, controller, and a free game.
The Bad Limited game library; very dependent on network speed; bundled controller feels sluggish at times.
The Bottom Line As a $99 content-streaming set-top box, OnLive's MicroConsole offers an intriguing low-cost alternative to traditional living-room game consoles--if you have enough bandwidth.
If you're not familiar with the, it's essentially cloud-based PC gaming. The original PC client allows nearly any laptop or desktop to play high-end PC games by offloading the CPU- and GPU-intensive tasks of actually running the game software to a remote render farm, then beaming the gameplay back to you as a streaming video.
As a $99 set-top box,offers an intriguing low-cost alternative to traditional living-room game consoles, which can cost two to three times as much. Ditching the computer altogether, the , connecting to your TV via HDMI (or component video) and to the Internet via an Ethernet cable (Wi-Fi is still wonky on the PC client, so we don't expect to see it on the MicroConsole anytime soon).
The PC-based version worked surprisingly well, so our expectations were high for this standalone TV-friendly box. And, taking the $99 price into account, which includes a free game of your choice on the OnLive service, a wireless controller, and an HDMI cable, those expectations were largely met, although the image quality and features still can't match a full-price living-room game console. One caveat: the system requires a 3-5Mbps connection to work, and can be unforgiving of spotty Internet access speeds.