When Google announced its new Nexus line of products, I was most excited about the Nexus Player. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Google succeeded in creating a breakthrough product. Yet anyway.
Ars Technica has a great review which you can read here. The summary:
Unfortunately for Google’s living room ambitions, the Nexus Player isn’t very good. Despite the company’s experience with Google TV, the Nexus Player and Android TV are first-gen products with lots of first-gen problems. The hardware/software combo flops on many of the basics—such as playing video smoothly—and doesn’t deliver on any of the compelling experiences “Android on your TV” would seem able to provide. Apps and games are presumably supposed to be the big differentiator here from the Chromecast and Apple TV, but the Play Store interface is clunky and, instead of 1.4 million Android apps, you get access to about 70. It’s also pretty buggy.
The Nexus Player seems like an incomplete first generation product. I previously voiced concerns about the paltry 8 GB storage space, and this has become a real issue:
Given the emphasis on apps, that 8GB of storage is a disaster, though. After the OS and pre-installed apps, you’ve got about 5GB of storage free out of the box. Let’s install some games! Modern Combat 4 (a generic first-person shooter) is 1.9GB, Asphalt 8 (a racing game) is 1.3GB, The Walking Dead: Season 1 is 1GB… and we’re nearly out of space.
What’s the point of a gamepad if you can only have three big games at a time? Unless the dedicated Android TV team is really that clueless, this makes me think that streaming from phone to player is in the pipeline.
That 8 GB and first party gamepad — described as console quality — don’t make any sense otherwise.
In all likelihood, the button you’ll use most on the Nexus Player is the one at the top, the one that activates Android TV’s Voice Search. This is the best feature of Android TV, that you can simply ask for whatever you want to see. That doesn’t just have to be movie titles, either: you can say “Oscar-winning movies from 1993” or “movies directed by Christopher Nolan starring Christian Bale” or “funny movies” and Google will always return… something. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it is very much not so.
I still don’t think voice control is ready for the mainstream, but perhaps in a TV context it might be good enough as there’s generally only one kind of result you’re after — watching something.
Voice doesn’t seem perfect for Android TV, but looks like a positive addition.
The Nexus Player also has performance issues, bugs and a limited app selection. According to Ars Technica, it doesn’t even play video smoothly. Which you’d think is a deal breaker for a device meant to play videos.
Fortunately, all those issues are mainly software related and will no doubt be fixed over time.