Google’s Nexus Player can succeed where Android in the living room has failed

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Android By Russell Holly Oct. 15, 2014 3:06 pm
Everyone wants to put a computer in your living room right now, and it’s not hard to figure out why:*people spend more time in their living room than any other room in the house. It’s where we watch TV, where we entertain guests, and typically it’s where the biggest screen in the house is. Google’s attempts to put a device*in your living room have failed, until finally the company struck gold with the Chromecast.
Google’s HDMI streaming stick is great, especially with that $35 price tag, but as we move on to things like 4K televisions and connected homes it is important that Google be able to do a little more than just offer a way to stream audio and video. Android TV is an attempt to create that space for Google, and it looks like they finally have figured out how to do just that.

The Nexus Player is really not all that different from the other set-top boxes*that are available today. Compared to an Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV, the Nexus Player doesn’t really look or feel all that different. It’s an all-Google world where you have access to Android apps, which in this case includes a lot of games and all of Google’s entertainment offerings from the Play Store, but that still isn’t all that different from what Amazon and Apple are offering. Where Google has an advantage is their Cast framework. That same technology that made the Chromecast popular is supercharged by the higher end hardware in the Nexus Player, which in turn means higher quality streams from all of your favorite apps.
What makes the Android TV experience functionally superior to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV is the ability to choose exactly how you interact with it. You can control the Nexus Player with voice or key input, through a remote control or a gamepad, even through your smartphone and smartwatch. Each of these interface mechanisms can be switched back and forth seamlessly, and that’s a way bigger deal than a lot of people realize. It means Chromecast users can upgrade and enjoy the performance boost without sacrificing their user experience. It means Roku and Apple TV users can enjoy the simpler remote control experience they are used to, and it means the Nexus Player has feature parity with the Amazon Fire TV. Out of the box it is every experience rolled into one, and it looks very nice while doing so.

The ability to run Android apps out of the box means your Nexus Player can grow beyond just controlling your TV. Google has learned from their previous mistakes, and made sure developers had everything they need to offer their apps on day one. This means you can expect things like smart lightbulb support, dozens of streaming media apps, and probably even quick access to services like Dropcam in the not-so-distant future. Instead of making it so you have a Google only box with Google only content, The Nexus Player has opened the doors a bit and can become a lot more as you continue to use it.
We don’t have pricing for the Nexus Player yet, and that’s certainly going to have a lot to do with the adoption rate for this initial run, but as the first real Android TV product this has to be another notch in the win column for Google. Fortunately, it looks like the groundwork is set for this to be a worthy upgrade to the Chromecast and a great competitor for your attention in the living room.