Here Comes Android TV: Google’s Nexus Player

The market for streaming video devices is getting even more crowded, thanks to Google.

In the first of what’s expected to be a flurry of products based on the new Android TV platform, Google last week unveiled the Nexus Player, a $99 puck-shaped device that supports a multitude of video-streaming apps and doubles as a gaming platform.

Google started accepting pre-orders for the Nexus Player last Friday (Oct. 17) and will start selling it in stores on Nov. 3.

The Nexus Player comes with an integrated voice-based search feature and an optional $39.99 gamepad, making it most competitive in terms of price and capabilities to the Amazon Fire TV.

But it will also tangle with Roku boxes, the Apple TV and even one of Google’s own products, the lessexpensive Chromecast streaming adapter.

The Nexus Player, developed in tandem with Asus, is the first to support Android TV, an operating system announced in June for smart TVs, set-tops and streaming devices.

It also represents Google’s latest attempt at taking over the living room following its earlier failures to do so with the Google TV platform.

Expect many devices to follow the Nexus Player, as Google has already identified several other CE partners for Android TV, including Sony (2015-model HD and 4K smart TVs), Sharp and TP Vision (2015-model smart TVs); and Razr.

The Nexus Player is outfitted with a 1.8-GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor, 802.11 a/c, and a High-Definition Multimedia Interface output.

It’s also Google Cast Ready, meaning users will be able to cast content from Chromebooks as well as Android and iOS smartphones and tablets to the TV like a Chromecast.

“It’s a really crowded space,” Colin Dixon, chief analyst and founder of nScreenMedia, said. “Apple TV and Roku are the big dogs. Everyone else is trying to play catch up.” Apple has sold more than 20 million Apple TV units, while Roku has shipped more than 10 million units in the U.S., but hasn’t divulged international figures.

But it is no surprise competitors continue to emerge: a study from The Diffusion Group in March found 48% of current users of Internet set-top boxes (including Roku and the Apple TV) were likely to purchase another iSTB within the next six months.