US$99 Google Nexus Player is Android TV that’s too basic on Ports and Apps

Google has royally screwed up yet a third time with their latest set top box, the Google Nexus Player. In fact, straight up, I’d even recommend the US$49 Google Chromecast (Deer, July 26 2014) over this product, and that’s a Streaming Stick!

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Launched in Wednesday October 15th 2014, the Google Nexus Player  (Katzmaier, 2014) now joins the long line of failed attempts by Google to make a decent Set top box to compete against the likes of Apple TV, Amazon TV, Boxee and the famed and much venerated leader of the pack (Deer, September 23 2014), Roku, with some 10 million and counting devices in the field.

Google previous products the Google TV and the Nexus Q were both failures because of lack of support from the Movie Industry as well as in terms of design. After all, who makes a US$300 product (The Nexus Q) sans a remote? Now it seems that for Google, the third time isn’t a charm, as based on the specs of their latest product, it’s not going to make it past the gate.

Don’t get me wrong, its got great hardware specs coming from Asus, the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for the product, is you’re it that kind of a thing. The Google Nexus Player is powered by a 1.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Atom Processor (Denison, 2014) support on the graphics side by a PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine.

Strangely enough, its got 8 GB of storage yet only 1 GB of RAM to play, even as 4K UHDTV (Ultra High Definition Television) is now on the horizon (Deer, September 23 2014). It’s is product support in terms of Packaging out of the box, Apps, Games and overall User-friendliness is where its downfall lies.

Google Nexus Player disappoints with no Instructions, inadequate Ports and Missing Cables

This is the first sign of bad news for this product, as the rest of the product only continues in this downward trend. Out of the box, you get the Google Nexus Player, the remote, an optimal console-style game controller if you ordered it as surprisingly, no cables. As for instructions don’t expect any; it’s just a card with two very obscure graphics that seems to imply that this device can magically connect itself.

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The matte black plastic Google Nexus Player with anti ski rubber looks solidly built but comes packing little else than a remote control. You can buy an optimal console-style game controller, which has a better build quality than the remote that’s made of the same matte black plastic and looks like it won’t last a year in my home where I regularly toss or sit on my remote.

Setting up this thing is going to cost you both in cables as well as in sound quality. At the back it only has three ports:

  1. HDMI output port
  2. Micro USB port
  3. DC power port

That’s it. There’s nothing else, not even an Ethernet Port even though the option is supported by Android TV. To its credit, the Google TV supports IEEE 802.11ac, the latest Wi-Fi Standard capable of specs up to 500MBps, but that’s little comfort if the Google Nexus Player has so little RAM to support that much data transfer.

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But if you don’t miss the Ethernet Cable, a definite deal-breaker for many will be the lack of a Toslink digital audio jack or any Optical Audio output ports.

That means if you invested in a High-End A/V Receiver (Deer, November 11 2014) like the US$900 Marantz SR5009 Home Theatre A-V Receiver, you’ll never get excellent sound, as the HDMI sound will be coming through you HDTV Audio system, which is usually terrible quality sound, even if you run the Audio Out from the TV to the High-End A/V Receiver.

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Console-style game controller appears ok, but it has no hot-button options to play, pause, fast forward, or reverse video playback, making it rather inconvenient to have to be handling two controllers along with possibly your TV’s remote to switch between gameplay and streaming.

Read on dear reader, more disappointments await you!

Google Nexus Player poor App support with no Voice search and Lacklustre Gaming Support

First complaint of the bat is that there is no Google Voice Search support and no Universal Search support. The Search query will help you locate specific content once name and title are specified, even when expressed in Natural language. The problems is you can’t do cross Platform search to compare programs on one App to another and you can’t use Google’s Voice search capabilities to do it, even though Android TV allegedly support this feature.

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Streaming App Developers for the Apps have cold feet about integrating Google Voice Search API into their Apps allowing people the ability to search so easily and compare programs even in this age of Voice and Gesture control (Deer, 2011) Platforms. To be fair, the Amazon Fire TV is no better at this either.

Thus instead of being easily able to talk to your TV and search for what you want to watch or listen to, the Google Nexus Player makes their Video and Streaming Apps appear to be a marketplace where the various streaming services are competing without making it easy for you to find their products or even compare offerings.

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The Streaming App Selection, be it Video or Music, itself not much to speak about either. Assuming you can set up your Wi-Fi steam internet from a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or Proxy (Deer, September 20 2014), your App selection for Streaming is quite limited:

  1. Netflix
  2. Hulu Plus
  3. Crackle
  4. YouTube
  5. Google Play

There is no Vudu, Amazon Prime Instant, HBO Go, Watch ESPN or any decent pornography channels, which makes this major selection really minor. Music Streaming is at least on par with the Amazon Fire TV (Deer, May 8 2014) selection:

  1. Pandora Radio for TV
  2. iHeartRadio
  3. TuneIn
  4. Vevo

As for games, the selection is as lacklustre as the App selection. With few PG-13 and PG-16 titles that appear hastily thrown together ad aimed at a single man living in a basement than a family many wanting to have fun playing games with his kids.

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At least it can do Casting, allowing you to augment and even supplant the rather poor selection of Streaming Apps with movies and content you may have purchased or downloaded from other sources. But that basically turns the Google Nexus Player into a US$99 Streaming DVD Player that can barely even store two (2) DVD sized Movies in its 8GB Internal Storage space.

Dear reader, Google did not put much effort into this product. Neither should you! 

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2011, December 4). Siri and Kinect: Heralds of a coming world free of Remote Controls. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/siri-kinect-heralds-remote-controls/
  2. Deer, L. (2014, May 8). Amazon launches Amazon Fire TV Set Top and Gaming Console – Amazon Prime Delight challenges Apple iTV, enflames Cord-Cutter’s Nirvana portending Console Gaming Renaissance. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/04/amazon-launches-amazon-fire-tv-set-top.html
  3. Deer, L. (2014, July 26). Google Play Music’s All Access Music Subscription Three months Free Streaming – Happy Birthday as Google Chromecast fights Amazon fire TV. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/07/google-play-musics-all-access-music.html
  4. Deer, L. (2014, September 3). Samsung unveils their First Curved Ultra High Definition TV, the U9000 Series at Mona Visitors Lodge. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/samsung-unveils-their-first-curved-ultra-high-definition-tv-the-u9000-series-at-mona-visitors-lodge/
  5. Deer, L. (2014, September 20). Surfing the Internet Anonymously using VPN – How to use Streaming Set Top Boxes over VPN. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/09/surfing-internet-anonymously-using-vpn.html
  6. Deer, L. (2014 September 23). 10 million Roku Streaming Devices sold – Roku still King of Streaming as Google, Amazon and Apple unable to beat Baked in Surprise. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/09/10-million-roku-streaming-devices-sold.html
  7. Katzmaier, D. (2014, October 15). Nexus Player runs Android TV and plays games, but App support is weak. Retrieved http://www.cnet.com/products/google-nexus-player/
  8. Denison, C. (2014, November 3). LATE TO THE GAME: GOOGLE’S NEXUS PLAYER IS A SAPLING IN A FOREST OF REDWOODS. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/media-streamer-reviews/google-nexus-player-asus-review/
  9. Deer, L. (2014, November 11). US$900 Marantz SR5009 Home Theatre A-V Receiver – 4K Video goes great with 5.1 Dolby Digital HD Audio in 2 Rooms. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/11/us900-marantz-sr5009-home-theatre-v.html

 

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