I have spent the last couple of weeks with an Ouya game console testing access to foreign (French) broadcast over the web and through Android apps and guess what? It works! Keep in mind the Ouya costs $100, so if you don’t watch a lot of foreign programming, stop here.
Over the last year my biggest challenge to dropping cable was access to French TV shows and movies my wife and I like to watch. There are apps out there that get you real time TV from France, but with the time difference we could not record shows with the apps we used.
We tried YouTube to watch French movies and found out it works really well. Just perform a search for “French comedy movies” or any similar term and you get tons of results that you can watch with your Roku and YouTube account.
The TV shows were a show stopper to dropping cable. I had to find an answer, and it had to be free or really cheap (ex. a $1.99 app) with no paid subscription. Wow, that’s tough.
I tried VPN and proxy solutions but found out all my devices at home were VPN’d to France and switching on the fly with a remote control was impossible. Plus even though VPN services are really cheap ($50 a year), that was over my budget. Yes I am cheap.
Then I heard about the Android based game console Ouya and its ability to act as an android tablet/laptop/whatever. I heard it was not very intuitive because it is after all it is a gaming console and not an Android computer. BUT, after a lot of frustration and time experimenting with the Ouya here is what I found.
When you start-up the Ouya with its console based menu system the first app I downloaded from Ouya was the Firefox (Ouya friendly) browser. Then I plugged in my mini wireless keyboard dongle so I could easily type in web addresses. I then took a USB storage device and used my laptop to go to http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/. This site lets me cut and paste any URL like https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.hola and download the app to my PC. Ouya’s way of doing this is almost non-existant.
Once that was done, I was ready to download apps and change the way Ouya works. I logged into the Google Playstore and opened a tab for each app listed below in order:
- ADW Launcher (new android like menu system)
- Hola (free VPN client)
- Root Explorer
- France TV
- Tele-Loisirs (any other foreign TV/movie apps)
- Root My Ouya MOD collection (from the web)
Once you have a tab for each app, copy the URL, and paste it into the downloader site above and bingo the apps download to you PC. Copy them to the USB storage device and stick it in the Ouya game console. Now follow the Ouya instructions to find the USB device and install all the apps. Once you have done this, here is what you get.
An android based, network capable device with a nice browser that lets you use the apps you installed. Hola will give you free VPN to almost any country you want, and the ADK Launcher makes the Ouya look and act like an Android tablet.
Oh yeah. What about the foreign TV shows I wanted to record? Easy. All the shows we like to watch are readily available on the shows web page (ex. http://www.france3.fr/emissions/questions-pour-un-champion). Trying to view this show from the US, you get locked out because of regional blocking. But with Ouya, my web browser is geographically in France. So I bookmark the shows web page, click on the video, and BINGO, the show comes on.
No monthly fees, free VPN, foreign programming, what a life.