Friday, September 25, 2015

Google Nexus Player

John B. Marine | 9/25/2015 03:33:00 AM | | | | |
(UPDATED: September 28, 2015)

The Google Nexus Player is vying for your streaming media attention. It is doing so with Android TV, Android "Lollipop," and a $79 USD price point. This is also Google's third attempt at a streaming media player. Is the third time the charm? I had a chance to play around with the Nexus Player enough to give a review based on my thoughts on this device. If you are interested in my thoughts on the Nexus Player, please keep reading this blog post. Welcome to "John's Blog Space" and my review of the Google Nexus Player!


SEP 28 2015 - added extra section, including notes on Bluetooth; also added information on the Nexus Player gamepad

--- Google Nexus Player ---

Let's take a little further look at the Google Nexus Player. Here is how one looks:

Google Nexus Player
^ from: - Here is the Google Nexus Player. It is made by ASUS, features an Android TV interface, and runs on Android "Lollipop."

The Google Nexus Player is meant for media consumption. It also is capable of playing games. The device was made by ASUS. In addition, the optional gamepad for the Nexus Player was also made by ASUS. It is one of many devices today in the streaming media market, and it is going up against the following: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and even Google's own Chromecast. The Google Nexus Player is a device meant for media consumption as well as gaming. Someone could take the Nexus Player and even make it one's own home theater PC (HTPC).

Released since October 2014, the Google Nexus Player brings Android to your TV. This is NOT Google's first attempt at bringing Android to the big screen. In fact, the Nexus Player is Google's THIRD attempt. The first attempt from Google was with the long defunct Google TV interface that didn't work very well. The second attempt was with a device that was so much an epic fail that Google quickly pulled it from the market- the Google Nexus Q. So you can say that the third time's the charm if you believe in that expression.

The device is shaped like a large hockey puck. The device comes with three ports: an HDMI port, a Micro USB port, and an A/C Adapter port. At the bottom of the device is a circular button good for picking up Bluetooth devices. You may navigate items using the directional buttons and the centered select button, or you may use the integrated voice button to search for items with your voice. The voice search only picks up YouTube videos, movies on Google Play, and music on Google Play. So don't expect to use this feature on the Nexus Player for any web browsing or anything like on your smartphone or tablet PC. The device runs on WiFi. If you use Ethernet to connect, you will need to buy a Micro USB male to Ethernet female cable or adapter to utilize an Ethernet connection.

The Google Nexus Player is always on. There is no Power button on it. The only way you can turn it off is to unplug the device from the jack you plugged it into or disconnect the A/C cord. If you don't want to display the Nexus Player while it's running, either switch the HDMI input or go to another input on the TV. If you want to replace the HDMI input with input from some other device, disconnect that HDMI cord and put in the HDMI from another device into that slot (if your TV or monitor has only one HDMI port).

About That Nexus Player Gamepad...

(ADDED: September 28, 2015)
You can purchase a gamepad suited for the Google Nexus Player, also made by ASUS. The gamepad works just fine and plays much better than the OUYA controller I used previously. The controls and buttons are all functioning nicely. You can power up and power down this gamepad by holding down the Power button. You use this for pairing Bluetooth with it. A lovely blue hue is given off with the lighting on the gamepad. I recommend you get this if you plan on gaming. While you could use other Bluetooth controllers, the Nexus Player Gamepad is recommended for gaming on the Nexus Player.

Why I Bought a Nexus Player.

The Google Nexus Player intrigued me most for its apps and its Android interface. As someone who has yet to design ANYTHING for Android, this was another platform for me to study and imagine what I could design for it. Namely- a game or some other app. The Android TV interface is built into this device to offer a host of options for media consumption. It runs on Android L- "Lollipop." Some people are even wondering if the Nexus Player will be upgraded in the future to Android "Marshmallow." I figured if I am going to have a device capable of streaming media and playing media, I'd best have something actually best equipped to handle such duties rather than have my PC try to do everything at once. Also, I prefer Android gaming on a proper device rather than game on my mobile devices and my tablet PC. That's why I still use my OUYA for OUYA-designed games (OUYA is Android-based) and also why I use my Nexus Player to play some Android games made for Android TV. The many things that are possible with a device like this have ultimately led me to buy a Nexus Player.

Learning Something New.

Prior to setting up this blog post, I had no real idea on what I wanted out of using a device like this. I actually wanted to get another device instead, but I became intrigued with the Nexus Player to where
I imagined the possibilities for me to enjoy Android on a big screen. Two other devices loved in regards to Android TV is concerned are the Razer Forge TV and the nVidia Shield. I had no interest in the Razer based on reviews I read about it, and the nVidia Shield is just really out of my budget. So I went ahead and bought a Nexus Player from a Wal-Mart after considering my needs and doing my own complete research.

App Detail.

From accessing the Store app on the Google Nexus Player, you can find apps designed for the Nexus Player through Google Play. These range from apps to games. A lot of the usual suspects are included as apps available to you right away. Among some of the included apps are YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Sling Television among others. Google services are also available to you including Google Play Movies and TV, Google Play Music, and Google Play Games. Any other apps you download/purchase will be available on the main screen of the Google Nexus Player.

While you can use various apps from Google Play, being able to have extra memory or be able to sideload apps will require you to have certain apps (like Sideload Launcher) or have certain apps stored on some sort of flash drive or flash media. Those wanting to enjoy streaming music may look to apps such as TuneinRadio and iHeart Radio. Those who want one of the ultimate media experience need not look any further than KODI (formerly XBMC). KODI plays and runs very well on the Nexus Player, and I actually recommend you get this as opposed to having this for a PC (though there's nothing wrong with the PC version). Some people even recommend you get ES File Explorer for managing memory on the Nexus Player and to do some extra things.

Two games available to you are "Badland" and "Despicable Me." You can uninstall either or both games. Games are offered for free or for a fee. Few games have a free version for you to try out. Also, some games may require you have a gamepad to play. There is an optional Nexus Player gamepad you can buy to play games on the Nexus Player. However, you can use almost any Bluetooth-enabled gamepad to play games. I say ALMOST any because some gamepads may not be fully compatible with the Nexus Player. Also, be aware that some gamepads may have unusual button mapping. So playing certain games on the Nexus Player with a gamepad can be somewhat of a challenge. In fact, I played two games using the controller from my OUYA controller to play two different games on my Nexus Player. It is probably recommended you get the Nexus Player gamepad if you intend on playing games with a gamepad or that require a gamepad to play.

Just like there are some apps and games that are not compatible with all devices, there aren't as many apps and games suited for Android TV devices like the Google Nexus Player. The best way to know if an app is compatible with the Google Nexus Player is to simply poke around the Google Play app store. At least you know through the Google Nexus Player what apps can be used on the Nexus Player without needing to go to the Google Play store through a web browser.

NOTE: I know nothing about rooting Android devices, nor do I know of any apps to recommend for rooted devices. I will leave this up to you to find certain apps and resources in case you are thinking of rooting the Nexus Player. I do not recommend rooting any Android device. Unless you REALLY know what you're doing, root at your own risk.

Google Cast.

While I have no experience with Google Chromecast, the Google Nexus Player comes with Google Cast functionality. Google Cast allows you to take media from your mobile device to cast to your television. So you may be playing a movie on your device and want to put it onto the big screen with the Nexus Player running. Or maybe you are playing a game on your mobile device and want to put your experience on the big screen. Either way, Google Cast allows you to take your media to be played on any connected TV through Google Cast. All you need is an app that is Google Cast capable.

I have no Google Cast experience, nor did I test this feature in my review.

The Google Nexus Player has perhaps one major shortcoming. Which is...

Not About That Space, Space...

Yes- that was a Meghan Trainor reference. Glad you noticed. The serious note here is that the Nexus Player comes stocked with 8 GB of onboard memory. The amount of total space for you to work with is 5.8 GB of memory. It is a good amount of memory if you don't plan on overloading the Nexus Player with high-quality movies or games. However for gamers, this is a very poor amount of onboard memory. So you will have to invest in certain methods of external memory. One recommendation is to purchase a Micro USB male to USB female cable or adapter. For example, the freely-available "Ashpalt 8: Airborne" requires 1.48 GB of memory. You may need to simply delete certain apps or games you aren't playing or using to save up space on the Nexus Player.

Now that you've been briefed, allow me to offer my own review of this device.

--- Google Nexus Player: Final Thoughts/Review ---

The Google Nexus Player is a very good media consumption device that has few, if any, faults. There isn't enough to say the Nexus Player will replace your PC or your home entertainment system, and it likely will not replace your PC or home entertainment system. You may have to buy some extra equipment to take advantage of the Nexus Player's shortcomings. The biggest shortcoming is its poor amount of memory at 5.8 GB. Many of the apps and features work perfectly fine. The Android TV interface is rather stylish and is responsive and doesn't lag much at all. It is probably recommended you get some cables or adapters which go from Micro USB to USB or Micro USB to Ethernet depending on your needs. You can play games with the remote or with a Bluetooth gamepad. A gamepad is required for some games on Google Play. While you can use almost any Bluetooth gamepad for gaming, it is probably recommended you get the Google Nexus Player gamepad for your gaming needs.

The Google Nexus Player is a very good streaming media device that takes advantage of the Android and Google ecosystems. Do not look to the Nexus Player to replace your PC, laptop, or home entertainment system, however. What it CAN be is your own home theater PC. Granted you have the right apps, you can have a quality and enjoyable media experience with the Google Nexus Player. The selection of apps is great enough for Android TV and the Nexus Player. However, I do wish more apps would be available for or engineered to be played on Android TV.

Maybe the biggest fault of the Nexus Player is the loss of the Bluetooth signal when gaming sometimes. I almost never had my controller go out when I was gaming on my OUYA. There were a few times when I had to try to restore the Bluetooth signal on my devices when I was playing games. The quickest way to restore the signal is to press the button at the bottom of the Nexus Player to have the device look for available Bluetooth devices to pair with it. Just seek the devices to pair back with the device to restore the Bluetooth signal of paired devices. This isn't a common occurence, so don't feel like this thing can't hold a Bluetooth signal.

So if you want a solid media player that utilizes Android and Google and offers a robust gaming interface, you can do little to no wrong going with the Google Nexus Player.

For More Information and to Buy...

Want to buy one of these? You can learn more about the Google Nexus Player by going to If I compelled you to buy one of these, I'd like for you to visit Nexus Player at Google Store to buy directly from Google Store, or click on the item(s) below to learn more about the Google Nexus Player and to buy one:

I would appreciate your business if you do buy this item online through my blog.

That is all from me on the Google Nexus Player. I hope you got yourself some insight from me in regards to this device and what it is capable of. Please be sure to Subscribe and Follow my blog(s) for more content from me. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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