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What Is The Nexus Q By Google: A Social Streaming Media Player (Features, Functionality, Price, Specifications; Verdict)

Updated on October 9, 2012
The Nexus Q from the front
The Nexus Q from the front
The Nexus Q from the back (fully plugged-in)
The Nexus Q from the back (fully plugged-in)

The Nexus Q is a device developed, manufactured and sold by Google. It is advertised as the world's first social streaming media player. The device has the ability to stream media directly from the cloud to a variety of devices like your stereo or your TV set. The way it differentiates itself from other devices with similar capabilities is the fact that it should be controlled by the user via another Android device such as a smartphone or a tablet that has the Nexus Q app installed. The social part comes from the possibility for multiple users to rearrange its playlist from their own mobile device. In this way every guest at a party that has been granted access to the local Wifi network would have his say about whats playing or what will be playing next. So far so good. A very nice concept that could actually be fun (or annoying depending on the stubbornness of your guests).

On the outside, the Nexus Q is a futuristic looking black orb with a 32RGB LED lights around its perimeter creating a luminescent rim around the device. The upper part of the orb rotates to provide volume control and there is a capacitive touch sensor on top with its own LED indicator for mute. The device has serious internals with a dual-core TI OMAP proccessor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of Flash memory. It has Wifi, Bluetooth and NFC abilities and a powerful array of output options. Despite the fact that it has no screen, the device is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, so it will be interesting to see what kind of apps would it support and will they expand its functionality.

4.6 inches (116mm) in diameter
2 pounds (923 grams)
TI OMAP4460 (dual ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs and SGX540 GPU)
Internal Memory
16GB (Flash)
Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
Wireless Connetivity
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC
Output Ports And Connectors
Micro HDMI (Type D), S/PDIF, Banana jack speaker outputs, 10/100 Ethernet (RJ45), Micro USB
25W class D (12.5 watt per channel)
$299 at Google Play

So what's the problem?

There are two main problems that make the Q not the smartest of purchases. The first thing is its price. This device cost the extraordinary $299. It is a device built in the US, so maybe this is inflating the price a bit. But it costs three times what Apple TV costs. And Roku is even cheaper. So why would you want to fork out so deeply for this one? No good reason besides the questionably usable social feature for now. And this brings us to the other problem with the otherwise gorgeous-looking Nexus media player - its extremely limited feature set. For now the device has three options for accessing media - it's relatively small internal storage, Google Play and YouTube. This is it. Google are keeping it so strictly in the family that the device doesn't even support Google's own Google TV. So despite all the nice things about it, the Nexus Q simply hasn't done enough to deserve its difficult-to-swallow price tag.


Google's Nexus Q is meant to fulfill an important role in the Android ecosystem and its powerful internals provide it with the potential to do so. It's meant to be an independent intermediary between all your Android devices and your home media systems. And it's not supposed just to allow you to share your smartphone's or tablet's screen wirelessly - it takes out and streams the media content only. The fact that the device is running its own operating systems means that its meant to be a platform, rather than simply a device. Third parties should be expected to start developing apps for it in order to expand the currently limited functionality. But until this happens, despite its futuristic sex-appeal, the Nexus Q will remain too expensive for its capabilities.

Verdict: For now the value for money factor on this device is not really acceptable. Until it becomes both more functional and less expensive, you should try to resist buying it.

Important Update

Obviously Google realized that almost nobody is going to be interested in a product with such a bad value-for-money factor, so they are back to the drawing board. The people that were adventurous, wealthy, or careless enough to preorder the product will receive a free developer version (the current version), while the guys at Google will redesign the product in order to make it competitive. But until then, what they have created can be classified as nothing but a failure. I will not be surprised if they find a way to swipe this story under the rug and get on with business as usual.

Nexus Q Gallery

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