Google Unveils First Android TV Device

Google has unveiled the Nexus Player, a puck-shaped video streaming and gaming device that is being billed as the first device to run Android TV,  an operating system for smart TVs, set-tops and streaming devices announced in June that marks Google’s latest attempt at taking over the living room.

The Nexus Player, which will most closley compete against the Amazon Fire TV as well as Roku-powered devices and the Apple TV, was developed through a collaboration between Google and Asus and will be available for pre-order on Friday, October 17, and become available in stores on November 3. The Nexus Player will sell for $99, and an optional gamepad will cost $39.99, according to GigaOm.

By comparison, the Amazon Fire TV, launched in April, also sells for $99, though Amazon is currently offering it to Amazon Prime customers for $84. The Amazon Fire TV game controller fetches $39.99.

In addition to serving as a streaming media player for video and music, the Nexus Player will also be a “first-of-its-kind Android gaming device,” Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps, proclaimed in this blog post. “With Nexus Player you can play Android games on your HDTV with a gamepad, then keep playing on your phone while you're on the road.”

The Nexus Player, which comes with a remote that bakes in voice-based search technology,  is outfitted with a 1.8GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor, 802.11ac, and an HDMI output. The new product is also Google Cast Ready, meaning users will be able to cast content from a Chromebook, Android or iOS smartphone or tablet to the TV in much the same way that the cheaper Google Chromecast does now.

A page dedicated to the Nexus Player shows that it will support a wide range of apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Pandora, PBS Kids, Vevo, Plex, HGTV, DramaFever, Pluto.TV, as well as Google’s own games, movies, TV and music offerings and YouTube. AOL announced that its full library of premium content is also being offered via Google’s Android TV platform. 

Google also announced the Motorola-made Nexus 6 smartphone , a phablet-style device with a 6-inch Quad HD display and 13 megapixel camera that will compete with the recently introduced iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup. Google also introduced the Nexus 9, a new tablet made in partnership with HTC.

The new version of Google’s OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop (it was previously referred to as the Android “L” OS), will power the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, and will also be offered on the Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks, the company said.