The Play Store may have spilled the beans ahead of schedule, but now Google has officially announced the Nexus Q, an audio and video streaming appliance for users at home. It's a cloud-oriented device, designed to pull media from the Google Play Store as well as YouTube. The Q delivers the media to your television or a set of external speakers — it features a 25-watt amplifier as well — and is powered by the same chipset as the Galaxy Nexus. It features ethernet, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity, and owners will be able to use their Android devices to control the streamer. Optical audio and micro-HDMI output are included, and the device also features banana-style connectors for connecting speakers.
Multiple Qs can be controlled from a given Android device, turning it into a multi-room solution, but the big selling point here is the social aspect. Different users can add music from their own Google Play music collection to the Q's queue, turning it into a clever option for parties or group events (Bowers & Wilkins offers similar collaborative functionality with its Air Zeppelin app for iOS). 32 LEDs ring the sphere-shaped device, and change color and rhythm depending on the music that's playing (the entire top of the device is a rotating volume control, while a capacitive touch sensor allows for quick and easy muting).
The same can be done with Play Store video content as well, with all media streaming from from the cloud and simply being controlled by a user's Android phone or tablet. Unfortunately the device appears to be limited to Google Play media at the moment, so fans of Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify may find the Q wanting. In connection with the Q, Google is also getting into the accessory game, selling a $399 pair of Triad speakers, and a pair of $49 speaker cables. The device is available for pre-order starting today for $299 directly from the Google Play Store — it's US-only for the moment — and will be shipping in July.