Here comes the Nexus Player: Google and Asus release first Android TV device for $99

19 Comments

Android TV is here: Google will start to sell the very first Android TV device next month. The Nexus Player, which was announced in conjunction with the Nexus 6 phone, the Nexus 9 tablet and Android Lollipop on Wednesday, is being manufactured by Asus and will be available for pre-order starting October 17 and go on sale on November 3. The device itself will be available for $99, and an optional gamepad will be made available for $39.99, according to a Google spokesperson.

The Nexus Player is powered by a 1.8GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor and comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The device will sell with a Bluetooth remote control that comes with an integrated microphone for voice search, and a game pad will apparently be able for sale separately.

There is no Ethernet port, but the Nexus Player will have a micro USB port, which could be used for extra storage or to sideload apps. Speaking of which: The Nexus Player website currently features 28 apps, including must-haves like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Plex and all the essential Google Play services as well as YouTube, but it is a little light on TV Everywhere apps. There’s no HBO Go, for example. However, Android TV is compatible with Google Cast, the technology that Chromecast is based on, so any app available on Chromecast should be accessible through Android TV via casting as well.

Google first announced Android TV at its Google I/O developer conference in June, and at the time revealed that it will work with Sony and Sharp on integrating the platform into 2015 TV sets. Razer also said that it wants to release a “micro game console” powered by Android TV this fall, and Asus had been mentioned as a partner as well.

Android TV is Google’s third attempt to capture the living room, and in many ways, it combines lessons from the failed Google TV as well as the best part of the much more successful Chromecast streaming stick. Android TV is based on the latest version of Android, dubbed Lollipop, but comes with a TV-optimized UI framework called Leanback. The Android TV home screen not only shows off apps available on the device, but also directly surfaces movies, TV show episodes and other types of content from frequently used apps. And users who don’t want to navigate through Android TV’s menus can instead opt to cast content straight from their mobile device.

Android TV also puts a big emphasis on gaming, which is one of the reasons for the pretty aggressive specs of the Nexus Player as well as the optional gamepad. In that way, the device competes closely with Amazon’s Fire TV, another Android-based set-top box that tries to combine streaming media apps with games for the big screen. However, Fire TV sales have been slow from what I’ve heard. It will be interesting to see whether the Nexus Player will fare any better with consumers.

19 Comments

f1vefour

The quad-core 1.8ghz atom processor is extremely capable, the 6 series powervr GPU is amazing and being Bluetooth capable simply get a Bluetooth headset. It would have been nice to have a headphone jack on the remote ala Roku but the specs blow a Roku out of the water…1gb of RAM is plenty, this isn’t a tablet and you won’t really be multitasking much.

Geez the things people expect for $100 amazes me. Get your head out of the clouds.

Tech Man

sorry but this is a google fail. the skystream x and the probox ex 2 are both more capable and yes expensive but they include wifi and ethernet and xbmc and all the customization you can do with that. plus you can play android games on them if youre that kind of person. and with iptv and m3u files…. wow. sorry I am a google fan but the android boxes I mentioned above kill this. perhaps literally.

orionsaint

Sideload Apps, Emulation, USB storage, Xbmc. Who knows. It’s gonna be fun tinkering with this device. You could say but you can do that with Ouya and other mini PC type devices from China, but those are mostly crap. This is Google and this device is powerful and quality. Yeah Amazon Fire TV has sideloading but it’s not easy and not many apps are compatible with the device and for some crazy reason Amazon blocked off their USB port for storage. WTF Amazon?

orionsaint

Sideload Apps, Emulation, USB storage, Xbmc. Who knows. It’s gonna be fun tinkering with this device. You could say but you can do that with Ouya and other mini PC type devices from China, but those are mostly crap. This is Google and this device is powerful and quality. Yeah Amazon Fire TV has sideloading but it’s not easy and not many apps are compatible with the device and for some crazy reason Amazon blocked off their USB port for storage. WTF Amazon?

whynot

Article states it has a USB port. Use an Ethernet->USB converter for wired.

mike

What I would like to know is – how unique is “Android TV”. While a box like this can run it as an independent OS it really seems like it is just a UI flavor on top of Android – like phone or tablet.
So if I get a tablet with HDMI output and running Android 5 – when I plug it into a TV will it provide the ‘Android TV’ experience? Or do I need to buy some dedicated thing which will run Android TV like this product does?
I wish they’d be more specific about the graphics it’s running before it goes on sale. Wish they would have seeded it to reviewers prior actually. Only 1 Gig RAM seems low too. And no ethernet? Wot!? It’s great it has AC. I dont’ have an AC A/P though – so…
I was waiting for this and the new tablet too. But with the price of the tablet and the vague and red-flag nature of the hardware and nature of this devcie – I’m thinking maybe an Nvidia Shield tablet might be the thing.
Or maybe some cheapo Windows tablet for an HTPC device and that Lenovo 13.3″ tablet.

Shenan

I’m a bit disappointed too. No ethernet? 28 apps? Intel Atom (will probably be a power hog compared to Roku and others)? What the…

rogee34

Where’s the headphone jack? I can’t believe Roku is the only box to offer this. It’s a killer feature.

ps10n

How do you figure that? Tv’s /sound systems already have headphone jacks built in, so unless you want to display this on a potato I don’t see the use.

rogee34

The headphone jack is in the remote (wireless). Who’s going to plug in directly to their TV and sit right in front of it???

Sam

Ahg, a little disappointed. I made a list last week of what I was hoping would be in it, ordered from most important to least.

1. Chromecast support: this was easy because they already said it would be included.
2. Ethernet: Not included, so why not just stick with the Chromecast and Roku 3 setup I have right now? I really wanted an ethernet connected Chromecast with the option of using a remote. Wifi works fine for me, but why not go wired?
3. Amazon Prime: Then I wouldn’t need the Roku, but nope, not included.
4. HEVC: No mention so far, but I was hoping it would be future proof for higher quality streams at less bandwidth
5. OTA integration: so I wouldn’t have to switch inputs for the antenna
6. Games: this one is included, but really the least appealing.

There really isn’t a compelling reason to buy this instead of my Roku 3 and Chromecast combo. The only advantage is the games, which just aren’t important to me. I’d still have to have the Roku for Amazon Prime. On the other hand, it saves me from spending $100 on something I really don’t need.

Nick

If you get a network tuner like the HD Homerun you can cross #5 off your list. Was demoed at I/O.

Dave

My experience with attempting to stream HD Homerun (Prime) over WiFi has been poor. WiFi doesn’t have the bandwidth or reliability for non-transcoded-unbuffered-streaming. In a vacuum, it may be fine (for one tuner), but when you add in other devices, walls, your neighbor’s router, multiple tuners, etc… it’s not very good.

Nick

Once we get hardware based .mp4 transcoding this should get better, but you’re right, as currently implemented this is an issue.

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