The Nexus Q: I Guess I'm Still Waiting
Let me start by saying I love Google. I've been an Android user since the G1. I think the worst thing that's ever happened to Android is the concept of differentiation through skins. Whenever someone asks me which phone to buy, I make sure the Nexus is one of my top recommendations. I'm a fan.
I do, however, try to blance my fandom with an objective look at the products I really want to love. If I just cheer for whatever steamer Google drops on the market, how am I helping them "win"? So when I first saw the Nexus Q, I was really excited! "This is the answer to Apple TV!" I was thinking. "This is the successor to the beta-ish Google TV experience!" Then I read on. To my horror, I found that it's basically an AirPlay device for Android devices.
Google, what were you thinking?
I can understand if Google wanted to create a streaming hub for Android devices, but how the hell does this add up to $300? What i saw unfolding in front of me was a list of completely unnecessary features that were 'neat' on paper, but just added cost. First and foremost, I do not need an amp. In my home, the only place I can use this thing, I have speakers. Even if I didn't, I would do better to plug in a set of PC speakers to a 3.5mm jack. Your amp is bad and you should feel bad. Secondly, why do I need Galaxy Nexus hardware to run a jute box? This could have been accomplished with a G1's innards (sans radios) to do this with some discrete video processor to handle the heavy HD lifting. The Raspberry Pi does this for $25 - $35.
So let me lay this out for you Google. I'm Joe consumer. I'm faced with a choice between an Apple TV, a Roku, or the Nexus Poke-ball. I look at the best Roku, and it's 100 bucks. The Apple TV is too, and it lets me queue my videos and music from the iPad I bought because Android tablets never got the apps I wanted, and when they did, they were horrible. (I'm looking at you Words with Friends) Then I see the Nexus Q sitting on the shelf and ask the sales representative what it does. "It looks really cool! It plays your music and video on a TV", he says. "And" I say. "That's all it does" he says. So two smaller, more discrete, more portable set top boxes that do more cost $100, and this thing with impressive specs and blinkenlights that does practically nothing costs $300. What do you think I'm going to do Google? First, I'm going to stop thinking that anything Nexus must be good. Then I'm going to buy the Roku by itself, or I'm going to buy the Apple TV and use it with that iPad.
So how do you change my mind?
It needs to cost less. If it's going to cost $300 dollars, it had better be a Google DVR. It had better be a Google TV in the sense that it has apps, like HBO Go and Netflix, and maybe it should connect to a google IPTV cable service.
Barring all of that; it can't cost over $100. Is it made in the USA? Alright then, $150. Next, it needs to be smaller and it needs to be lean. I don't want the amp or the associated ports for the speakers. I don't want the extra outputs. A 3.5mm jack and an HDMI will suffice. Now that it's smaller and leaner, I want apps. I want to log on to the Google Play store and find some really cool content. I want to be able to watch podcasts, HBO Go, Hulu, and maybe even play games. My phone could be the controller! Even with all of that, do I really need the processor you put in it? If I'm not using it, or I can't use it; I don't want to pay for it.
As a consumer, I want something no more expensive than $150 dollars, that really adds something to my entertainment center. It can be a sphere. That's an attractive design. It shouldn't be bigger than a tennis ball though.
I really wanted to love it, but all it did was remind me how painfully out of touch with the consumer Google can be.