Many were already predicting that Google would choose today to formally announce the Motorola made Nexus 6 and the new Android Lollipop operating system. What they weren’t suspected was the Nexus Player. It’s a small puck-like Apple TV rival that’ll run Google’s recently announced Android TV operating system.
Google announced the Nexus Player in a blog post that also included the Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus 6 smartphones earlier today. Made on behalf of Google by Asus, the Nexus Player is a fresh attempt by Google to break into the living room entertainment market that has alluded it for years.
The Nexus Player is a box that plugs into user’s televisions. Inside the circular micro-console is a 1.8GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor. The Nexus Player communicates with different devices on user’s networks with 802.11ac wireless internet support. It plugs into high-definition TVs using HDMI.
For video lovers the equation is pretty simple. Google wants its own branded set-top box that lets buyers get the best of their content experience without having to depend on a separate device like the Google Chrome Cast does.
Android TV, the operating system that’s running on the Nexus Player includes a home screen that allows users to browse through custom-made recommendations based on what they’ve watched already and browse through more playable content through the Google Play Store. Apps downloaded from the Google Play Store enable access to new content at launch there will be apps for Hulu Plus, Plex, Netflix and YouTube.
All told, Google is aiming for a future in the living room when users don’t have to purchase an Android smartphone or download its Chrome browser to enjoy content they’ve purchased. That being said, Google Cast, the technology that allows the $35 Chromecast to work with iOS, Windows and Android devices to communicate with the Android TV, is still present here..
Interesting enough, Google is making a play at Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s recently launched PlayStation TV too. The list of applications installed on the Nexus Player includes Google Play Games, the same app that’s available on Android smartphones and tablets. Google says Nexus Player gamers can look forward to “stunning 3D graphics” from Android TV games. Google also says that achievements earned through the Nexus Player will sync over to smartphones and tablets. The company even takes shots at Xbox Live and PlayStation network, promising free online multiplayer.
The Nexus Player will go up for pre-order on October 17th – that’s the same day as the Nexus 9 tablet. A remote that adds voice search will come along with the console, but the controller that buyers need to play games through the Google Play Games app will be sold separately. We don’t yet know for how much. Google isn’t yet confirming a price for the Nexus Player.
All told, the Nexus Player looks like a decent entry into the set-top box space. That being said, it doesn’t add much to what’s already available out there. Should the Nexus Player not cost around $99, Google could be looking at a major flop. The Nexus Player enters a very, very crowded space. In addition to Sony’s $99 PlayStation, there’s the Amazon Fire TV and the Apple TV. Even Google’s own offerings are convoluted. In addition to Android TV, it still sells the $35 Chromecast dongle. In the past there has been the Nexus Q and Google TV operating system.
That’s ok though because the Nexus line of devices is meant to encourage other companies to produce Android hardware and act as a showpiece. The Nexus Player looks like it can do those two things just fine.
Google is currently taking the email address of those who want to be notified when the Nexus Player is available. Again, the Nexus Player hasn’t yet arrived in the Google Play Store.