Well holy flying weasel balls! The Ouya is actually working! I can turn it on and have both picture and sound. Like, both, at the same time. On the same old ass TV. How can this possibly be?
This was the issue. Our TV is one of those older, HD ready jobbers. This means that is can display a 720p signal or a 1080i signal but not a 1080p signal. The TV has a dvi input that can downscale a 1080p signal into something that it can use, but dvi doesn't carry sound, only picture. So to get both the picture and sound out of a single hdmi cable, I had to run it into a converter that split it into component video and stereo audio. So I went and got the thing that did that and filled all its holes full of cables.
Turns out the converter box is smart and the tv is stupid. The Ouya is putting out a 1080p signal and the converter diligently converts and then passes along that 1080p signal to the tv. The TV then promptly failes to display anything useful.
Knowing that the ouya can put out a 720p signal, I went looking for any way to lock the output of the little grey box to that lower resolution. I even tried sending terminal commands to it from my pc. No dice. I thought that I might be able to have the converter tell the ouya to output a 720p signal, but the converter is having none of that. It's a completely non discriminating converter. If the ouya says 1080p, well that's good enough for the converter. Converter don't judge, man.
And so, the ouya sat there for weeks, building up a tangy dust frosting. Until this:
That's the thread where some kind soul created and posted a set of mods for the Ouya. One of them purporting to lock the hdmi output to 720p. I tried it. It worked. The Ouya now sends a signal that all the digital nonsense between it and my eyeballs understands.
So now that I have all that worked out I can finally give you my impressions of the thing.
It runs xbmc real well.