Today Google dropped the news of a new Android powered device called "Nexus Player." After looking at it i've concluded it's some of the best tech news i've heard in quite some time. Basically the Nexus Player sports a quad-core Intel Atom 1.8GHZ chip, 802.11ac, HDMI out & remote for $99. You can also buy an XBox 360 styled controller for $40. The Nexus Player runs a version of Android configured for TV and also supports the incredible Chromecast protocol, which enables you to stream video directly to it from a Chrome tab or Chomecast powered app. Google is taking a pretty big leap into the realm of TV and this device seems to be pretty awesome.

Why Does This Matter? Isn't This Just The Amazon Fire TV Or Roku?

Sort of, but in my estimation is this actually much more interesting on a few fronts.

Google devices are typically more open than other devices. Want an Android app not available in the marketplace on a Nexus device? Install the .apk. Want to do that on the Fire TV, Roku or Apple TV? Time to hack that device! The ability to install apps to certain Android devices allowed the Humble Bundle to do awesome stuff like Android Bundles. Could we see Android TV bundles in the future with Steam, Android and Android TV ports of awesome games? I really hope so.

Nexus player sports an Intel Atom chip, which is basically a version of the same processor in your PC. It's not as powerful, sure, but it's a nice start and could allow... ahem Steam, cough to port a version to it. In a world where Google could choose a lower cost and power draw ARM chip, Intel is an interesting choice.

The fact that Ouya was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects proves that there is a demand for a cheap livingroom device that is open, hackable, small and allows anyone the ability to publish a game to it. Google entering this domain might give game developers another way to reach more fans.

Eventually these kinds of devices will become more integrated into our TV's and it's interesting to see them resemble a regular PC in terms of hardware. In a talk Gabe gave a year ago at Dice, he outlined how early Steam Machines would cost a few hundred dollars and eventually cost only $99 and then zero as Steam is integrated directly into your TV. After seeing what Google is doing here, his words seem to be right on the money.

What do you think, is the Nexus Player cool or just another step top box relegated to the "meh" pile?

Travis   Admin wrote on 10/17/2014 at 02:59am

It seems to be a big step forward. It seems like the best bang for your buck for a set top device. I have a smart tv and have almost all my streaming needs covered there. The DLNA sucks on it but my PS3 picks up the slack. The only thing it's missing is Steam in-home streaming. I have an old PC running Ubuntu connected to the TV as well and I can stream games there, but it isn't always stellar. There's a delay that I can't quite pin down.

Anyway, yeah if Valve can update their android app to support a full client on this device that can handle in-home streaming I think it would be an insta-buy for me.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 10/17/2014 at 03:15am

I don't think if Steam comes, and it might not, that will be the sealing point for me about this. The PS3 hasn't been cutting the mustard for me in terms of media consumption in a few areas. It's power draw is abysmal and when it's on it sounds like a Jet engine in flight using Netflix. It doesn't support as many video formats as i'd like from videos streaming over my NAS. I'd prefer more apps and the ability to stream video to it. THAT SAID it still plays PS3 games, Bluray and DVD so I keep it around for that.

BUT I am looking for a device to handle all the NAS video I can toss at it+chromecast+apps+some games. This seems to be the magic. I bought a nice TV when getting it to be "smart" meant a ton more money. In the end I am glad I didn't go that direction because those interfaces are somewhat clunky and depending on the vendor, aren't updated too often.

Travis   Admin wrote on 10/17/2014 at 03:32am

Yeah the filetype support isn't great on the PS3 for DLNA streaming (which tells you how abysmal the filetype support is on my TV). When I run into one of those files, I have the absolutely stellar PS3 Media Server which I can fire up on any Windows/Mac/Linux PC and it transcodes it on the fly to a format the PS3 can handle.

But then, that involves a separate device. And that old PC sitting next to the TV can play them anyway, with XBMC or VLC or whatever else I want to throw at it.

Really, it comes down to Steam streaming. If I didn't care about the ability to play Steam games on my couch I think I'd buy this in a heartbeat. But I'm going to want something there that can do that, and whatever fills that role will also fill the roles the Nexus Player would.

I will add that Vizio's smart TV line uses a Yahoo! app store that's actually not bad at all, and the apps are updated frequently. The Amazon Prime streaming app was terrible when we first got it, but they've updated it to be much nicer. I'd like the ability to install VLC on it though.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 10/17/2014 at 04:00am

No kidding? I hadn't heard that about Vizio and it sounds like a really cool thing. How long have you had your TV?

Travis   Admin wrote on 10/17/2014 at 07:29pm

About 6 months I guess. We got it with our tax refund check and we did that in March, because we're procrastinators.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 10/18/2014 at 01:21am

Nice I've had our current for about 3 years.

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