Google Nexus Player puts Android TV in a go-anywhere can

By David Flynn, April 30 2015
Google Nexus Player puts Android TV in a go-anywhere can

TECH | Google's new Nexus Player does for Android what the Apple TV does for, well, Apple – it takes online video from Internet services like Netflix and pumps it through to your big-screen telly.

Now on sale from Dick Smith and JB HiFi for $129, the thick CD-shaped Nexus Player also duplicates the ability of Google's clever little Chromecast USB stick to pipe video from your tablet, smartphone or laptop to a TV set.

That works especially well with an Android smartphone or tablet: run any streaming video app such as the ABC's iView, tap the Cast button and the content is beamed onto the big screen via the Nexus Player.

The Nexus Player taps into the WiFi network at your home, office or hotel, although unlike the smaller Apple TV puck there's no Ethernet network port for a faster and more stable hard-wired connection – just HDMI and microUSB ports.

In some ways it's a step ahead of the Apple TV, thanks to voice control and a library of games (if you spring an extra $49 for the game controller)  – although expect Apple to not just catch up but vault ahead with what's tipped to be an all-new Apple TV coming out in June.

Powering this set-top box is Android TV – a bespoke version of the Android OS with a clean new interface dubbed Leanback, which takes its design cues from the large tiles of a tablet but with a carousel for selecting each 'channel'.

Driving this with either the Bluetooth remote controller or your own voice is a cinch.

Right now, what's missing most from the Nexus Player is local content: there are no apps for watching home-grown streaming services like Stan, Presto or QuickFlix.

Those can't be too far away, given that there are already apps for these on Chromecast – a bonus would be catch-up services from TV channels such as iView, SBS On Demand and their commercial equivalents Plus7, 9Jumpin and TenPlay.

At least there's Netflix, TED Talks and the Google Play library for starters. Add Chromecasting from your own device and the Nexus Player could well find a place parked next to your TV or packed into your travel bag to enjoy a better choice of videos in the hotel room.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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