Google Nexus Player Looks to Tackle Apple TV

By Steve Anderson October 15, 2014

The set-top box market is a rapidly growing field, and as competitors from Apple to Roku look to crack the market and slip into users' homes, one thing is increasingly clear: there are more options now than ever in terms of what can go on top of, or at least around, a user's home television set. One new option from Google is set to offer a pretty impressive array of functions and make itself, hopefully, an indispensable part of users' home life. It's the Nexus Player, and it means to take on the biggest names already in the field.

The Nexus Player is set to offer up a voice-activated remote complete with search function, much in the same way the Amazon Fire TV system does. Additionally, the Nexus Player offers a gamepad, which allows for precise control of Android games while connected to a much larger screen than normal. The system is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor running at a brisk 1.8 GHz, along with an HDMI output and 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO. The system even includes two AAA batteries for use, though it doesn't seem to include the HDMI cable required for a connection. As yet, there's no price listed for the Nexus Player, but as it goes on preorder October 17, that should be made available pretty soon.

This isn't Google's first attempt at going after the television market; earlier, it made a run at things with the Android TV system, which never got much out of the starting gate, and the Chromecast, a smaller dongle that went right into a television. The Chromecast had some excellent initial response, but sort of faded off after that. The Nexus Player, however, seems to be a little more substantial than that, though, and may well have the necessary power to put more of a bite on the market.

It's clear that, thanks to the sheer number of competitors in the set-top box market, those who would compete in this field must be prepared to bring the A-game, so to speak. A simple set-top box that only handles one thing isn't very well suited unless it's going after the budget-conscious niche, so it's clear that Google's pulling out the stops when it comes to the Nexus Player. Video and games at the same time is a good way to get there—not to mention built-in voice search capability—but even these may prove to be the price of basic entry, not a competition killer. Yet it's also worth considering that Google has an impressive ecosystem in the Google Play store, replete with Android apps, games, and plenty of content. But so too do competitors like Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, and those app stores are no less impressive than Google's would be. Is it going to come down to a point of sheer personal preference, with Android users rallying around the Google box? If that's the case, the market may prove much more limited than some might expect. But if Google can really demonstrate superiority, it's got a clear potential to take a bigger share of this market.

Only time will tell in the long term just how well Google's Nexus Player can do against a market ultimately crowded with potential options, but it certainly does seem to be bringing in a powerful option to put on the table.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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