Television is changing. The quality of TV programming has been stepped up enormously over the last few years but so has the volume of TV content. On-demand services are being launched regularly as even niche content providers find an audience, for things as diverse as educational content to art-house films. All of these services can’t survive or prosper via the old-fashioned terrestrial TV system so subscriptions are required with some being funded by targeted advertising, and some are delivered exclusively over the internet.
The Nexus Player is Google’s window in to the world of Android TV. The player is a small circular device, almost like a large ice-hockey puck which is slim enough at 20 milimetres to sit discreetly unseen under your TV set. There is no HDMI cable in the box, so you’ll need to buy one before connecting it to your TV via a small cut-away section at the back of the device. After powering the player up you’ll be prompted to enter your Google account details, much as you’d do on a new Android phone, and the Nexus Player will start syncing your Google account with the device.
The Nexus player’s focus is all about Android TV and as soon as the Nexus Player is powered up, you’ll be presented with an attractive linear layout of movies along the top row of the display. It’s a clever format that places suggested content at the top, and then the Google services most of us are familiar with lower down the screen. You navigate down to these using the included Bluetooth remote control. For anyone who’s used an Android tablet or phone the layout style will feel familiar but if you’re new to Android it’s laid out so neatly there’s only a very small learning curve.
Because you use your Google account on the player, content that you’ve watched elsewhere can be found easily with even the YouTube app on the Nexus Player showing familiar content. As well as the Google content and Apps like YouTube you can of course use the built in Play Store App to download new apps straight on to the player and a quick browse through the store will reveal a breath taking array of content sources from new music to contemporary dance. You also have the option of wirelessly throwing video from your phone or tablet to your TV, and this feature works really well and I didn’t experience wireless buffering even once.
Although the interface is easy to use, it is one of things I like least about the player. It’s not as slick as other TV box systems and does feel a little clunky when installing new apps but Android users will feel more at home. The remote is well made and easy to use and it has voice-search built in but it misheard lots of what I said and it can be slow to get from voice command to search results.
Overall, the Nexus Player is a reliable, well made and useful device. Perhaps it’s more suited to second room viewing but it gets your Android TV content on to your screen and it does that with exceptional value.