Along with a phone and a tablet, Google Inc. unveiled something unexpected: a streaming video box called Nexus Player, the search giant's latest attempt to gain a beachhead in the living room.
Google's forays into TV date back to 2010, when it shipped a set-top box with a keyboard developed jointly with Logitech, Sony and Intel. That device was short-lived due to lack of content. Last summer Google unveiled a $35 dongle called Chromecast, primarily to move YouTube videos from PCs and phones to the television.
The Nexus Player set-top box ships with several applications, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vevo and Songza, but many of the most popular streaming applications are missing, including HBO Go, Pandora and Amazon Instant.
Google also announced Android TV, an attempt to bring its operating system to set tops and TVs. In addition to the Nexus Player, the software will be featured on television and "micro-consoles." At $99, the box competes directly with Apple TV and Amazon TV, two other set-top boxes designed to get people consuming media through their respective ecosystems.
Designwise, the Nexus Player is small and round; it includes a remote control and a handheld gaming pad. Its hardware specifications include a quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom processor, Imagination PowerVR Series 6 graphics, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.
The Nexus Player will support Google's Cast technology, which also powers the Chromecast dongle. With this technology, users will be able to “cast” content from a PC, smartphone or tablet to the Nexus Player.
The Nexus Player will be available for preorder at the Google Play store on Oct.17. Its gaming pad accessory is sold separately for $39.