Google announced its latest streaming box as a successor of sorts to the Chromecast. The Nexus Player is the first device to run Google’s Android TV operating system and it aims to take on the likes of the Apple TV and Roku.
The Nexus Player is a streaming set-top box that plugs into the your television and allows you to stream all sorts of content from Google Play, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Vevo.
The box is powered by a quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom processor with PowerVR Series 6 graphics, and 1GB of RAM to boot. It’s also got 8GB of storage, which certainly isn’t enough to store much of anything, but it’s not meant a storage device in the first place.
Not only does the box stream TV shows and movies right to your television, but it also serves as an Android gaming console. By purchasing a separate gaming controller for $40, you can play Android games right on your television using the Nexus Player. Plus, all of your progress saves to the cloud and you can pick up from where you left off on your Android smartphone or tablet.
The remote is very simple, just like on the Apple TV, with the usual directional D-pad and a couple of buttons for controlling content. However, it also has a built-in microphone for voice search, just like Amazon’s Fire TV.
However, Google thinks that you hopefully won’t have to do a lot of searching, as the company will automatically suggest recommended content to you based on information it collects from other Google services that you use (hello, privacy!).
What does this mean for the Chromecast? It’s pretty much discontinued now, since the Nexus Player can act like a Chromecast as well, allowing users control content from any PC, smartphone, or tablet over WiFi.
So the Nexus Player seems pretty cool, but how does it compare to the Apple TV? It’s tough to compare the two products without being unfair, considering that the Apple TV is approaching three years old, while the Nexus Player is brand spankin’ new, but we’ll give it a go.
Nexus Player vs Apple TV
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Nexus Player and the Apple TV is shape. The Apple TV sports a rounded rectangular look, while the Nexus 7 uses a circular design that measures four inches in diameter, which is about the same size as the Apple TV, so either product should fit just about anywhere in your home theater setup.
Obviously, another big difference is the user interface. The Apple TV runs iOS, while the Nexus Player runs Android TV, which is essentially just a modified version of Android that’s catered towards television displays.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until we can play around with the Nexus Player in order to find out how the Android TV user interface compares to iOS on the Apple TV, but frankly, it isn’t that hard to make a user interface that’s better than the one that the Apple TV sports. It gets regular updates from Apple, but the UI itself needs a major refresh, and app developers need to put more focus on their Apple TV apps for sure.
One of the big features that the Nexus Player has over the Apple TV is the ability to play Android games right on your television. Apple hasn’t gotten into the gaming business yet, but past rumors have suggested that Apple’s next Apple TV could come with support for iOS gaming, allowing iPhone and iPad users to play their games on their televisions without needing to worry about AirPlay support.
As for price, the Nexus Player will cost $99 when it releases on October 17, which matches the Apple TV’s $99 price tag. However, price is something that Apple and Google don’t need to compete over. It’s really just all about the platforms themselves, as iOS users will naturally buy an Apple TV and Android users will naturally buy a Nexus Player. Price has nothing to do with it at this point.
As for which one is the ultimate streaming box, that’s something we’ll have to wait and see on. We’ll want to definitely try out the Nexus Player to see if it’s worthy of being Google’s flagship media streaming box, but it looks promising so far.