Last October, Google kept its promise and released two new Nexus devices: The Nexus 6 phablet and the Nexus 9 tablet, but, at the same time the company spoiled the fans with a new video streamer that is a combination between Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple’s Apple TV. The black puc-shaped device can be used to stream online videos from different websites, directly to your TV. In this article, we’ll talk about the Nexus Player’s interface, content and hardware.
Since it was built by Google, the Nexus Player gives you access to the famous Google Play store, from where you can rent/buy movies and TV shows, and in addition, you’ll be able to stream videos from YouTube (which is owned by Google) or buy songs and albums from Google Play Music and stream them to your TV. Google can’t compete with Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, but should consider launching a streaming service to contain both audio and video content, allowing users to download whatever they want, without needing a third party source. Currently, if you want to watch a new blockbuster movie, you will need to sing up for Netflix, while to watch an old movie, you can rent it from the Google Play.
On the home screen you’ll see a shortcut of the Google Play store which you can access to download and install applications and games, you can also play them using the included remote control. However, to enjoy a better gaming experience, we recommend you buy the Bluetooth game controller, which costs £35, the same price as Amazon’s. When you download a game for your Nexus Player you are given the option to choose between a TV Remote, Casual for Gamepad and Action for Gamepad, just so you know what to expect from each category. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many available games, but you can play Fire up Asphalt 8 without a gamepad, Star Wars: KOTOR and Soul Calibur, but these cost £6 and £8 respectively.
As for the available applications, the device supports Netflix, TED, VLC, Plex, Bloomberg TV, but there are no specific UK apps. However, Nexus Player’s advantage is the Google Cast, which allows you to use an Android device, Chromebook or laptop to cast content via the streaming device, to your TV. In this regard, the Nexus Player is similar to Chromecast because it allows you to cast one of the available applications, even if you’re using Android or an iPhone (open iPlayer and click on the “Cast” button to watch shows). If you have photos or videos on your mobile device, you can use the Cast button to watch them on your TV, but there isn’t a camera roll for iOS.
While Chromecast was created without an interface, the Nexus Player is luckier, and it was built to run on Android TV, which has nothing to do with the Google TV (which was launched in 2010, after being developed in collaboration with Sony, Intel and Logitech).
Android TV comes with a simple, but intuitive interface that has elements from the Android Lollipop software and contains menus, icons, an on-screen Android Lollipop and animations, giving you the feeling that you’re using a phone or a tablet. Google still has some work to do with this OS, but at least there’s a voice control option, with which you can easily search for shows or music without using your keyboard. If you want to search for a movie, just press the Button from the remote, say its name and you will get results immediately. For example, if you’re a fan of the “Breaking Bad” TV series, you can say the name of the show, followed by “episodes on Play and outtakes on YouTube”, but make sure there’s no noise in your room, because the device might not “understand” what you’re saying. Also, if you’re curious what actors were cast in a certain movie, just ask the question “Who was in X (the name of the movie)” and the streamer will give you a list of names of actors that appeared in that movie.
The device looks like a black rounded plastic disc and was manufactured by Asus, it is equipped with a 1.8GHz Quad Core, Intel Atom processor that is backed by PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine and 1GB of RAM. There is internal storage with a capacity of 8GB, but the device lacks a wired Ethernet port and an optical S/PDIF (which is found on the Apple TV or Fire TV). The Nexus Player connects though 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO) and Bluetooth 4.1, it’s plugged into an18W DC power outlet and connected to the TV via an HDMI cable. The video output resolution is 1920×1080 @ 60Hz and the physical dimensions are 120x120x20mm, with a weight of 235grams. The remote that comes with the Nexus Player has 2 AAA batteries and it feels pretty light.