Google recently released the Nexus Player, a high powered Android set-top box. Sporting a Quad-Core 1.8GHZ Intel Atom Chip, 1G of RAM, 8G of storage, a nice bluetooth remote and a hefty 3D chip the Nexus Player is a steal at $100. The Operating Syste running on the Nexus Player is Android TV, a living room UI built on top of it's latest Android Lollipop. After using Android TV for the last few weeks I can safely say that Google has done a great job bringing this to market. The interface is intuitive, quick and useful and as a first iteration device, Google has done a fantastic job.

The Nexus Player is first and foremost meant to stream media to your TV. Up front, Google is suggesting you use it's Google Play Video, Music, YouTube and Games App. If you have purchased music and film content on Google Play, it should be available here. I've only acquired movies from Google Play giveaways and in trying them out, they look fantastic on my TV. The Nexus Player includes Netflix and Hulu out of the box as well as a ton of other streaming apps from the Play Store. Currently there is no official Amazon Prime app but I imagine it will come with time. I use Pandora for music streaming and the included app is slick and simple.

The Nexus Player also features support for the Chromecast protocol. Chromecast allows you to fling anything from inside a Google Chrome tab to your TV or any supporting app. Want to watch The Daily Show on your TV? Fling it over your Chrome tab. Want to move your Pandora stream from your phone to your TV? Fling it from your Pandora app. More apps are adding Chromecast options making it really simple to fling stuff to your TV.

Each set top box is pushing a certain way to buy music and movies, Google with it's Play Store, Amazon with it's own offerings and Apple with its iTunes store. Since I already have a junkload of digital files from ripped CD's and films I need a way to easily stream it off my NAS.

Since the Nexus Player is Android, it's not too hard to unlock it to side-load apps. One app you can side-load is Kodi, a new rebranding of XBMC. Kodi is an open source app that manages your digital music, movies and photos and can read from any standard NAS or network drive. It comes with a ton of plugins like Airplay and is one of the coolest open source projects I know of. So when I heard you could side-load Kodi on the Nexus Player that sealed the deal.

Side-loading Kodi isn't too hard and for more information on how to do that I recommend checking out the official steps on the Kodi website(linked below).

The Nexus Player is a great device for streaming but Google is also pushing it as an Android games console. Google is selling an XBox style Bluetooth controller OR you can just use your XBox 360 or generic controllers. The Nexus Player allows you to use any USB device but you first need a USB host adapter. After I picked up one at Radio Shack I could use my XBox 360 PC controller as well as a regular keyboard and mouse.

I give gaming on the Nexus Player a "good" ranking because the storage you have is pretty limited. Out of the box the Nexus Player only allows you 5.4 Gigs of storage which isn't much considering some Play Store games can be well over a Gig in size. If you only use the Nexus Player to play more casual games this shouldn't be a problem but I hope this is sorted out. Using Android TV as a console is a great idea and a bit more storage means more games, which is better for everyone.

If you are looking for a nice streaming device for under your TV I can't recommend the Nexus Player more. For my needs it does the job well and for my first ever owned Android device, I couldn't be happier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromecast

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nexus_Player

http://kodi.wiki/view/Google_Nexus_Player


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