Google flings Android TV to the masses with its disc-shaped Nexus Player

Remember Google TV? Google hopes you don’t, or at least that you’ll be willing to forgive, forget, and give its new set-top box platform a try. Today, the Internet giant announced the Nexus Player, a little black box (or disc, really) that it hopes will give the likes of Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon’s Fire TV a run for their money.

We got our first glance at a prototype version of Android TV at Google’s I/O developer conference in June, and while far from fleshed out, the platform showed some promise. Where the beleaguered Google TV tried to blaze its own trail, Android TV takes cues from other over-the-top platforms we’ve become familiar with over the past few years, calling to mind Microsoft’s recent advancements with the Xbox One.

Nexus Player

Android TV features big tiles for its apps, and its background changes to match whatever content the user lands on. Access to apps like Netflix and, of course, Google’s own YouTube are to be expected, but, much like Amazon’s Fire TV, the Nexus Player will reach beyond streaming movie and television services to offer streaming games as well. To underline that commitment to a better gaming experience, the Nexus player offers an available console-style controller for “fine-tuned control” of Android games. It will be sold separately at a price yet to be determined.

As for the specs, Google’s new device will be outfitted with a relatively powerful 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor, as well as an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3D Engine for gaming. It offers 8GB of storage, and 1GB of RAM, half that of Amazon’s Fire TV. It also forgoes an Ethernet port for Wi-Fi only, and a digital optical port, harboring only micro USB 2.0 and HDMI connections at the back. It does, however, match Amazon’s Fire TV by offering Bluetooth 4.1. Like the Fire TV, the Nexus Player also offers a sleek and simple remote, with the option of voice commands.

No pricing has yet been announced for the sleek new player on the set-top seen, but you can bet your next paycheck it won’t break the $100 price point offered by all of its peers in the genre, save Google’s own Chromecast, which will no doubt keep its pole position as the cheapest streaming device on the block. However, the Nexus Player is also Cast-ready, meaning it will provide users with the same function of pitching content from a phone, tablet or PC, allowing for multiple ways to play.

The Nexus Player will be available for pre-order starting October 17, and is slated to land in stores November 3.