Eric Johnson

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BlueStacks Announces Second Android Gaming Console, Free Forever (With a Software Subscription)

GamePop MiniIts first Android gaming console is still only available for preorders, but BlueStacks said today that it’s planning to roll out a second device, the hardware component of which will be permanently free.

For the past two months, BlueStacks has advertised a special promotion for its first console, the $129 GamePop, allowing people to preorder it for free if they sign up for a $6.99-per-month software subscription. Now the GamePop will get a little brother, the GamePop Mini, which will be free forever with the same subscription.

The monthly subscription, the company said in a press release, “will include access to over $200 in paid games for free.” To do this, BlueStacks has partnered with “a curated group” of 500 mobile game developers.

Like the recently released Ouya and the forthcoming GameStick, GamePop consoles are built around Google’s mobile operating system, Android, and plug in to the TV. The free-console promotion was so successful in attracting more developers, BlueStacks said, that it decided to make that a permanent option.

BlueStacks' previously announced console, the GamePop

BlueStacks’ previously announced console, the GamePop

BlueStacks is best known for software that makes it possible to run Android apps on Windows and Macs. But earlier this month it announced that the GamePop would be able to support games written for iOS via virtualization technology called LookingGlass. That will also be true of the GamePop Mini.

So, what’s the difference between the two, apart from the hardware’s price? BlueStacks hasn’t yet disclosed the specifics of what’s in each console, but marketing and business development head John Gargiulo said, “GamePop proper will have a slightly more powerful chipset, more peripherals will work with it, it will be more expandable, and (… it will have a) different form factor, fit and finish.”

Indeed, “GamePop proper” is a stylized cube designed to look like it’s on an angle, while GamePop Mini appears to have a simpler boxy shape.

The GamePop will still be available for free-with-subscription preorders through Sunday, June 30, before the GamePop Mini takes its place and becomes available for preorders on Monday, July 1.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus