Google has introduced its first home theater device, the Nexus Q.

It’s kind of Google’s answer to the Apple TV: A device that lets you stream music, movies, and other content from the Google Play Store to a TV. But it’s also much more than that… which helps explain the $299 price tag for the Nexus Q.

Google Nexus Q

Google’s device is a black sphere with a 4.6 inch diameter that looks a bit like a Magic 8 Ball with 32 RGP LED lights around the perimiter.

On the back you’ll find a number of ports including micro HDMI, micro USB, Ethernet, S/PDIF, and speaker outputs. The Nexus Q includes a 25W amplifier for external speakers.

The Nexus Q features a TI OMAP 4460 dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It has 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The media device runs Google Android 4.0 and can stream content from the Google Play Music, Movie, and TV stores as well as from YouTube.

You can control the device using your Android phone or tablet. The content streams over the internet, not from your device — so even if you don’t have the song or video downloaded to your Nexus Q or your phone or tablet to view them on your TV.

Any Android device connected to your WiFi network will be able to work with the Nexus Q, so if you have guests over they can use your Nexus Q to stream content from their library. All you have to do is turn on guest mode and they can use their phone or tablet to access their content.

The Nexus Q will ship in mid-July, and it’s the first device in the new Android@Home platform.

It certainly looks like an interesting new device… but at $299, the Nexus Q costs $100 more than a Nexus 7 tablet, which seems a bit expensive for a device that simply streams media.

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11 replies on “Google Nexus Q: $299 home theater device for Google Play Store content”

  1. I don’t get this device. . . it “should be” a complete Google TV with tightly integrated Google Play+social. . . instead it seems like it’s just a way to stream Google Play ONLY and use your android device as a remote — why wouldn’t I just go with Google TV or a tablet and do the same thing directly? I don’t get the “social” feature? But when I get the “social feature” I get so much less overall.

    Seems to be a misstep product. Even at $300 (when made in the USA) wouldn’t be a problem IF it was a much more inclusive device — seems so artificially limited, IMO.

    I personally think this could have been a killer device. . . instead it seems very disappointing and just fragmented hardware when you consider Google TV & Android in general.

  2. It is powerful according to what I had heard but I think its success will depend on its price and segment of people can afford it.

  3. I’m pretty sure this thing is more powerful than my gen1 Sony Google TV and actually does less. I really just don’t get it ;/

  4. You say this is “much more than” a Google equivalent to the AppleTV, but from the writeup here and the linked spec pages it’s not clear to me how that’s true, at least to the tune of a $200 higher price. As far as I can tell, it has the internal storage that the AppleTV dropped in 2010; but it’s only 16GB, which doesn’t seem to add much to the “bring your own” capability that it offers for Android devices, or that the AppleTV offers for iOS devices. (And which ones — AirPlay works on iOS 4.2 and up, but what versions of Android will support streaming to the Nexus Q?) It also offers analog audio out and an internal amplifier, whereas the AppleTV only offers digital audio out. I don’t like to sound like an Apple fanboi here, but unless I’m missing something about Google’s streaming capability vs. the iTunes Store, for example, I am having a hard time seeing where that $200 is going. (The dual-core processor and, perhaps, greater amount of RAM, are mere specs — what can it _do_?) Could you clarify?

    1. Theoretically, given that hardware, it should be able to do anything the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone can do (except make phone calls, run on battery power, or give GPS driving directions). It’s not clear if/when Google will add support for additional Android apps, but this hardware should be able to handle them.

      It’d also make a nifty Linux HTPC running XBMC…

      But mostly I’m looking at the amplifier, additional I/O options, internal storage, guest mode, etc…

      Is it worth 3x the price of the Apple TV? Probably not. But it’s an interesting device.

      1. Thanks for spelling out what you were focusing on. The AppleTV, hardware-wise, should also be able to run generic apps as well as custom ones (and there have been rumors for quite awhile that this is upcoming), so that’s a tie. XBMC would require hacking, so I don’t include that in the “base price.” Amplifier and analog audio-out are a plus; are there other I/O differences I missed (both have USB ports for service only, neither has gigabit Ethernet, …)? As I noted, internal storage seems small enough to make little difference.

        So — guest mode? I don’t really know how this works on an AppleTV, since all my family’s iOS devices use a common iTunes account. If I attach a friend’s iOS device to my network, he couldn’t push his DRMed content to my AppleTV without temporarily switching it to his AppleID; but he should be able to push non-DRMed stuff, right? Or is this something the AppleTV can’t do that the Nexus Q can? And/or will Google permit guest mode to play DRMed content attached to a different user, which (as I said) I know the AppleTV won’t do?

        That and the 32 LEDs, of course.

        1. Yup, that’s the point of guest mode. Basically turn it on, and any device on your home network can stream content straight from the Google Play Store.

          So if I’ve paid for a Harry Potter movie with my account, and you have the next movie in the series in yours, we can watch the first movie using my login, switch to guest mode, and stream yours from the Play Store.

          There are some more social aspects that Google highlighted during today’s presentation, but I was only half paying attention because I was busy writing up some other stuff…

          Honestly, the Nexus Q was the product I was least interested in today, but I figured some people might find it interesting so I wrote up this short piece on it.

          1. Got it. I’m pretty antisocial, so this is of no interest to me, but I try not to fall into the trap of “it’s useless to me, therefore it’s useless period.” Thanks for likewise taking the time to post about something that you figured might be interesting to others, though not to you.

          2. Yeah, the nice thing about running my own site is that I don’t have to write about anything I don’t want care about (unlike some TechCrunch writers, apparently).

            For the most part, there are enough people with my geeky interests reading Liliputing to help pay the bills. 🙂

            But from time to time a product I have no use for crosses the wires, but I figure it’s something that may interest others.

            I also have a soft spot in my heart for news about home theater devices. My first blogging gig was writing for the now-defunct Weblogs Inc site PVR Wire, way back in 2006.

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