Google has tried taking over the living room before with limited success. Google TV quietly died out, the Nexus Q never materialized, and the Chromecast, while successful in its own right, hasn’t necessarily taken over the industry. Ever persistent, Google this summer introduced Android TV, a new smart TV platform that runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and comes on the Nexus Player, built by Asus.
At $99, the circular set-top box is a lot like the Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku in that it provides access to apps, games, and a number of services, including Google’s own Play store. Of course, Google put its own spin on the UI and how you interact with the device; there’s a voice-activated remote, for example, that let’s you easily search for movies and other content with casual phrases. Say, “Show me movies with dinosaurs,” and the Nexus Player will return results like Jurassic Park and Land Before Time.
On the inside, the Nexus Player includes a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO), and that’s about it. The design is such that you’re not supposed to notice it sitting there by your TV, while the remote itself it meant to be a powerful magic wand that brings up content exactly when you want it. There’s also a gamepad accessory ($39) that you can buy for games and such.
The Nexus Player is Google Cast ready (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chromebook), and offers access to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and the like. On the surface, it’s not all that different from a lot of the set-top boxes already out there. But with Android under the hood, there is certainly a lot of potential. Google hasn’t cracked the TV code just yet, but the Nexus Player is something that could very well play an important role in the future of TV.