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Google Nexus Q Media Player Video Hands-On

Technically this is an eyes and ears on, but you get the idea: up close with Google’s new ball of living room fun, the Nexus Q.This little $299 orb of zinc and plastic streams audio and video content from Google Play and YouTube to “the best TV and speakers in your house.” Integrated HDMI and optical audio outputs send digital a/v content to your existing home entertainment system. Or, leverage the internal 25-watt Class D amp and banana plug speaker connectors and you can hook a pair of speakers up to Q and control music from your Android phone or tablet via Wi-Fi – no HiFi system or amp required.

Q also features an external band of 32 RGB LEDs that groove out in time to your music. You can also spread multiple Qs out throughout your pad for multiple zone music, though it’s unclear if the system supports multi-room sync and individual content streams, a la Sonos. Speaking of Sonos, the “Sonos Killer” and “Apple TV” killer labels have already been bandied about in reference to Q, which slots in between the $99 Apple TV and $499 Sonos Connect:AMP, price-wise.

One potential knock against Nexus Q, however, is the lack of support for third-party content. Google seems to be following Apple’s lead in limiting supported content to their own content ecosystem, at least out of the box. Apple has gradually opened their TV platform to Netflix, MLB/NBA, and other video providers, and it would stand to reason that Google may wind up doing the same with Nexus Q. On the audio side, Sonos supports multiple free and subscription digital music services, including Pandora and Spotify, something Google may also have to look into.

We’ll have a Q of our own in very short order, so look for full reviews soon. In the meantime, here’s a short vid of the device in action from the I/O show floor.

Noah Kravitz

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