Today, Google introduced its long-rumored media streaming box, and it's called the Nexus Q. The Android-powered base station allows users to seamlessly share media from their smartphone or tablet with their home entertainment center. Today at Google I/O, we had an opportunity to see the new streaming box first-hand.
About the size of a softball, the Nexus Q features a soft matte plastic finish. The front face is a large rotating dial that controls volume output and can also be tapped for quick muting. On the rear, you'll find an array of inputs and outputs, including micro HDMI, optical audio, and speaker output. We were unable to ascertain if the Nexus Q on display was a retail model or a prototype, but the build felt solid and well constructed. The display model was also mounted to the demo station, so we were unable to get a sense of weight.
The demo featured media streaming from five Nexus 7 tablets stationed around a living room-style setup. As promised, the Nexus Q uses a ring of LEDs along the side to mimic whatever colors are being used in the music visualizer on screen, displaying bright reds and blues in realtime. When a new song was selected, the on-screen interface shows all relevant album information, including cover art, artist, and more.
As we've learned, the Nexus Q is not intended to be a standalone device and requires one or more Android smartphones or tablets to provide access to Google Play content. When connected to the same local Wi-Fi network, any Android 4.1 device can share content with the Nexus Q, and songs sent from multiple sources are added to a queue, creating a collaborative playlist in realtime. Devices can also be paired via NFC, syncing Wi-Fi network data seamlessly and immediately providing streaming access. At launch, support will be extended to Android 2.3 devices and beyond, though only media from Google Play will be sharable with the Nexus Q. In the future, it's possible that wireless output to the Nexus Q will be shared with third-party apps, like Netflix or Hulu, but is not discussing future plans at this point.
The Nexus Q is available for pre-order today for $299, with shipments expected to begin in July.