Amid announcements from Apple for their new desktop and mobile operating systems, the newest Android versions, and drama surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S III, Google broke the news of the Nexus Q. The device is, at its core, a wireless media hub that works with Android phones and tablets. Like the very first tablets–we’re talking about you, iPad–the target demographic is a little fuzzy. Who exactly will use the Nexus Q? Read on, and we’ll try to unravel this mystery, wrapped in an enigma, rolled into a ball of hardware. Round and Round Google took a cue from Apple with the Nexus Q. It comes in a minimalistic black box with rounded indentations. The orb itself sits inside the box, measures just 4.6″ in diameter and weighs around two pounds. It’s certainly heavier than any other Android devices. The Q has a flattened bottom to sit on flat surfaces. The orb consists of two pieces, its cut in half with a line of LED lights that will change and pulsate according to the media that’s playing. Aesthetically speaking, this is the type of device technophiles dream about. The LED lightshow also serves as a dividing point. When you turn the top half, you can control the volume of your media without using your phone like a remote. Furthermore, a tap will mute it, which is handy when the neighbors start pounding on the doors, not that you’d ever be that person.
There’s a plethora of connections and standards supported on the Nexus Q. You can connect it to your HDTV via mini-HDMI port; while the microUSB interface lets you connect to your mobile devices. There’s integrated Wireless a/b/g/n, but you can also connect to the Internet, which you need to access Google’s cloud, with a gigabit Ethernet cable. NFC and Bluetooth allow you to painlessly interface your tablet and Nexus Q, which is always nice. If you just want to listen to music from your Q, without watching anything on the screen, you can easily do so, because the Nexus Q lets you connect to speakers with banana jacks, and the integrated amp provides you with more-than-adequate sound when you’re enjoying your favorite tunes. Finally, the TOSLink audio connector is compatible with another few dozen devices. Getting to Know Q The Q itself uses ICS, as we’d expect, and you can only control the Nexus Q with an Android device. Although Google has stated this will work with any phone running Gingerbread, it’s only been successfully confirmed to work with devices running Jelly Bean, the most recent version of the operating system. Google is stated to release the code in mid-July, and a few new phones will come with Jelly Bean before the end of the year. However, we expect Google to make good on its word and update the Q so that is becomes backward compatible. Once you add the requisite app to your phone, you’ll have to perform a little setup. After that, you can listen to music or watch movies from your Google account or enjoy YouTube clips.
But that’s just about it. You can’t watch content that’s on your phone and not your Google account. You can always shell out the few dollars for temporarily renting a movie, but Google’s media library is sparse, and the Q’s focus is limited to Google services in such a way that few people will be able to justify the price of this novel little streamer. This is exactly why you’ll want to turn on the optional guest mode, so that your friends can play their own media from the Q Who’s It For? The Nexus Q might seem redundant if you already have a smart TV, and Google even has its own smart TV platform. The same can be said if you own a modern video game console, which already provides ways to browse YouTube and Hulu, which the Nexus Q doesn’t offer. However, if you have the expendable cash and want a stylish way to control your media or many of your friends have Android devices; this might be something you’ll want to pick up. When you pre-order directly from Google, the price is $299.00, which just seems a little high. The selling point of the Nexus Q is obviously socializing. We’re sure Google will work out the bugs before the official release, but what we’ve seen of the Nexus Q is underwhelming for the casual user. However, it has the potential to do much more. We’d love to see Google actually make use of the internal storage.