Google Nexus Player finally has a UK release date
Having launched last year in the US, Google’s Nexus Player is finally coming to the UK on 26 March.
While the Google Play Store gives away no details of the tiny streaming box arriving on British shores, an Amazon pre-order listing has given the game away.
Currently listed at £79.99, Nexus Player certainly has to offer great value for money if it wants to go up against Apple TV, espeically since it’s recent price cut. However, it is the same price as Amazon Fire TV, so if it can offer up the same range of services as the eCommerce giant, then perhaps Google will be onto a winner.
Strangely, the Google Nexus Player gamepad doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere on Amazon other than third-party sellers, so perhaps we won’t be recieving gaming functionality in the UK just yet.
Google Nexus Player: What does it do?
Nexus Player runs on Google’s Android TV, opposed to Chrome OS, which powers Google’s Chromecast.
Unsurprisingly, it has a high level of integration with the rest of its Android ecosystem. Video content from the Nexus Player syncs across users’ other Android devices, so they can “start a movie on [their] TV and finish it on [their] tablet in bed”.
It sports a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom chipset and Imagination PowerVR Series 6 GPU, as well as 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, microUSB 2 and HDMI ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.
As well as the ability to stream apps and games, you can also “cast” to your TV from an iOS or Android mobile device, or Windows or Mac laptop – just like its Chromecast streaming dongle.
Google Nexus Player: peripherals and requirements
Out of the box, Nexus Player comes with a small bluetooth-enabled hand-held remote. You can also purchase a dedicated gamepad if you want to use the Player for Android TV gaming.
As well as three push-buttons to pause and play, rewind or stop playback and a circular control to move the cursor, it also has a built-in microphone, which can be used for voice search.
To use Nexus Player, you will need a HDMI input, a HDMI cable – which is not included – and and a Wi-Fi internet connection.
Nexus Player vs Google TV
This is Google’s second attempt at cornering the streaming set-top box market, and it hasn’t gone well previously. Google TV, launched in 2010, was a flop and widely panned by reviewers.
However, according to the BBC, the company says it has learned from its mistakes.
“On Google TV you could get a lot of apps, but a lot of the versions were just big tablet versions on a 50in screen that just didn’t feel right,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice-president of Android engineering.
“[Now] we’re much more opinionated about what an app should look like on a TV set, so we’ve been working very closely with app developers in the TV and content space over the past months on optimising their applications,” he added.
Nexus Player vs the competition
The Nexus Player will still face some stiff competition from Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
If you look at the specs, and the way Nexus Player’s being marketed, it’s hard to miss the similarities between it and the Amazon Fire TV. It too supports voice input through a microphone built into the remote control, and comes with a gamepad. Both have a quad-core chipset, but Fire TV has double the RAM and has dual-band Wi-Fi support.
Both also have a title suggestion feature, which anticipates other programmes and films you may want to watch based on your viewing history, and displays them onscreen.
Compared to the Apple TV, Nexus Player is slightly shorter at 20mm, but at 120 x 120mm, it’s wider and deeper. However, the ability to cast from non-Android devices gives Nexus Player an additional degree of usability with other devices you may have around the home.
Roku 3, Roku’s top-of-the-range streaming box, is smaller again (25 x 89 x 89mm). It also has a microSD slot for additional storage.
Something that’s noticeably missing from Nexus TV’s specs is what kind of audio output it has, so it’s impossible for us to compare it on that front.
As a gaming device, it’s more restrictive than Amazon Fire TV, as you can only use it to play Android apps. We’d also recommend you don’t trade in your PlayStation or Xbox just yet, although it doesn’t shape up too badly against the Nintendo Wii.