Google Finally Reveals The Nexus Player, Its Micro Console/Set-Top Box

In addition to launching the Nexus 9 tablet and the Nexus 6 smartphone on Wednesday, Google also finally introduced its set-top-box, the Nexus Player. As previously predicted, it doubles as a media player as well as an Android game console, allowing customers to rent or purchase video content and enjoy the best of what Google Play has to offer in the gaming department.

So what's under the hood? The specs reveal an Intel Atom quad-core processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, the Imagination PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine, 1 GB of memory, and 8 GB of internal storage. There's also dual-band Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, an HDMI port (1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz), and a microUSB 2.0 port. This is also the very first device to sport Android TV.  

The bad news here is that the device doesn't provide a microSD card slot. Android customers know that 8 GB isn't a whole lot of space, as the operating system itself takes about 2 GB. That limits the number of high-definition games that can be locally installed, such as titles from Gameloft (N.O.V.A., Modern Combat, etc).

The big selling point with the Nexus Player seems to be its remote control. The device isn't cluttered with a plethora of buttons, but rather just four: Play/Pause, Back, Start and Search. Hit that last button, and you can use voice search to find a movie, TV show or other content.

"Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from almost any Chromebook or Android or iOS phone or tablet to your TV," said Sundar Pichai

Another big selling point is in its games library. This is where the Nexus Player outranks the OUYA and Amazon's own Fire TV set-top box. Oh sure, Amazon has Android games, but they're usually listed long after they've appeared on Google Play... if at all. The OUYA console doesn't even officially have Netflix, let alone most of the blockbuster games that can be purchased on Google Play.

According to the Nexus Player listing, owners will have access to Netflix, TuneIn Radio, PBS Kids, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Crackle, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Goggle Games, Google Movies & TV, Google Music and loads more. Already have a Google phone or tablet? Then this set-top-box is definitely for you.

Google also revealed on Wednesday a new controller that works with the set-top-box. The device is a standard issue console controller, packed with two analog sticks; the D-pad; the ABXY buttons; shoulder buttons; and dedicated buttons for power, Start and Back. This controller, along with the Nexus Player, is manufactured by Asus, the company who built the two Nexus 7 tablets.

The beauty of this setup is that gamers can start a session on the Nexus Player, and pick up where they left off on a tablet or smartphone (and vice versa). Presumably, the same holds true when watching a movie or TV show episode. Plus, there's no more having to tether the smartphone or tablet to an HDTV via an HDMI cable to play games and watch media on a big screen; the set-top-box is already connected.

So what does this box mean for Android gamers? At a glance, the Nexus Player will be just another micro-console out on the market. However, what will hurt competition is the Google branding, as well as the fact that this device comes straight from the search engine giant and not through a Kickstarter project or a third-party peripheral maker.

All that said, Google has just made your Android life a lot easier -- and a lot bigger -- with the launch of this set-top-box. Google will start taking preorders on October 17, costing customers $99.99 for the box and remote and an extra $39.99 for the game controller.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • firefoxx04
    No SD expansion for a "console" ?? Sorry not interested.

    What were they thinking? The cost to add one is minimal I am sure. HUGE oversight.
  • InvalidError
    14383431 said:
    No SD expansion for a "console" ?? Sorry not interested.

    What were they thinking? The cost to add one is minimal I am sure. HUGE oversight.
    It is not an oversight: Google has been going out of their way to eliminate external storage because it allegedly made things "too confusing" for the normal user who does not know what got stored where.

    Google even rips out native external storage support from their home-branded products to prevent people from using USB storage. If you want external storage on Google-branded devices, you need to either install an AOSP build or use aftermarket utilities. They also ripped out the ability to run apps from removable storage.

    The lack of expandable local storage on Google's device is entirely intentional and Google has been doing it for years.
  • bebangs
    8gb/16gb for a powerful device is a cruel joke and not having a 64gb version is more insulting.

    Shame on me for still wanting to buy this for xmas.
  • everygamer
    Ok, the difference in cost between a 8GB or 16GB SD card is a few dollars, and the point of a device like the Nexus Player is to consume entertainment content which generally has the highest storage requirements. I know google expects us to stream video, but many larger android games require installed content. This was just bad planning plain and simple.

    If google was smart, they should have pushed it up to 32GB and then took a hit on the cost and sold the unit for $50. They might have lost some money, but they would have built the eco-system around this product very quickly.
  • icemunk
    I understanding needing more space for HD gaming, but do people still actually copy movies over to these things? If you really wanted extra space, you could buy a micro-USB to USB connector and plug in an external HD, or simple flash drive.
  • burkhartmj
    Usually I'm unfazed by Google's hatred of external storage, but you can't position something as a gaming console to the extent of selling a dedicated gaming controller and then only offer 16GB with no expandability. Dead Trigger 2 alone is half a gig for the initial install. I'll never game on this so I might buy it anyway, but this definitely points to being an oversight.
  • InvalidError
    14386366 said:
    If you really wanted extra space, you could buy a micro-USB to USB connector and plug in an external HD, or simple flash drive.
    If the Nexus player is like Google's other Nexus-branded devices, it does not support USB storage with stock firmware and that makes adding external storage far less convenient - you need 3rd-party firmware or apps to add USB storage support back in.
  • rwinches
    1 GB Memory - no
    8 GB Storage - no
    Even if it had an SD slot games would not run from the SD card.
    You can bet this is where Intel dumped a load of Atom CPUs
  • g00fysmiley
    if it were 32 gigs I would be buying one... but 8 gigs, is this 2006? I woudl love to play one of the best games for android X-com I have it on my nexus 5, and PC through steam but might be fun to have installed there too and play sometimes btu its a 4+ gig game so after operating system thats almost all the space. I wonder if it will have a micro usb port at least? if so maybe I could see buying one if it supported OTG but sometimes apps cannot be installed there either.

    Another thought is this... the SD memory if faster than a HDD, but a HDD could hold much mroe data, one of the main reasons for no HDD in portable devices is that they will be moved around alot, would it have been to hard to put a laptop style HDD in one of these for 100+ gigs, that I woudl buy!
  • cirdecus
    As cool as it is, 8GB is way too low and i'm very surprised. If they released a phone with 8GB of memory and no expandable storage people would be screaming. I wonder if they're shooting for the Apple model and ruling out external storage all together to simplify the device?

    If that's the case, they better find a way to fit 128GB of storage in that thing, considering Apple was able to do it with a phone.