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Is the Google Nexus Q Subtraction by Subtraction? 128

Posted by timothy
from the 33-LEDs-for-maximum-multimedia-masonic-mystery dept.
Once upon a time, it was easy to characterize Google’s domain and business model: they provided well-organized internet search results through a simple, friendly interface, and made money through targeted advertising. Over the years, the company has grown more complex even faster than has the — still admirably spare — Google home page, as it’s either assimilated or originated all kinds of adjuncts to pure search. The Nexus Q, as the company’s first-ever fully home-grown consumer electronics product (as opposed to Google-branded but jointly developed phones and tablets) shows just how far that path has led, and hints at cooler things to come. By default, though, the device is severely limited, intended basically as an overqualified gateway to content stored at Google’s Play media store, or at (Google-controlled) YouTube. And if that weren’t constrained enough, it requires another Android device (phone or tablet, say) as a remote control. The Q is equipped with impressive hardware internally, though, which might soon be exploited with software more flexible than that which comes loaded.
The Q was announced at the recent Google I/O conference, and instantly drew both admiring gasps and dismissive chortling. The case is distinctively odd: it looks a bit like a Death Star the size of a Magic 8 Ball, with an equator lit by a string of 32 LEDs, with a bit sliced off to provide a base. You can link it to an HDMI-equipped screen with a longer cable, if you’d like, but you won’t be stacking anything on top. It combines a fast processor, a 1GB chunk of RAM, and 16GB of solid-state storage with an integrated power supply (which means no wall wart) and — probably the most interesting of its hardware features — a built-in stereo amplifier, described as 12.5 watts per channel, or (a bit coyly) as “25W.”

Aside: Since stereo amps are commonly described by their per-channel rating (so a “100 watt stereo amp” doesn’t typically mean 50 watts per *channel* but rather “100 watts per channel), I’m glad the specs at least call this out in the same size of typeface. They should also specify the total harmonic distortion when driven at their rated power; that’s one place that other class D amps especially tend toward misleading figures. (I’ve asked Google to supply this information.) On the other hand, it’s worth mentioning that a decent 12.5W/channel isn’t necessarily something to sneeze at. Just because some receivers have 7 or more channels and behemoth claimed power ratings, with efficient speakers just a few watts can fill any less-than-cavernous room with decent sound, especially if it won’t be pushing giant bass drivers. Google recommends bookshelf speakers as a good match, which makes sense both because they tend toward efficiency and small-to-medium rooms and because users with more complex systems probably don’t want to be tied to the internal amplifier anyhow.

With a dual-core Cortex A9 and a full gig of RAM, this is severalfold more capable than a mere gadget needs to be — or, rather, it *could* be more capable. Which brings me to this: biggest problem I see with the Q isn’t the price, even though a lower price would no doubt bring it closer to an impulse buy for more people.

No, The real drawback to an eccentrically shaped, limited purpose, $300 piece of home entertainment gear is that it’s got to overcome a raft of competitive alternatives as well as wallet friction. This is the electronics version of “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The total worth of owning it has to compensate (and then some) for not using the same money on other stuff — or simply saving it, and particularly for the risk that for all its potential the Q will end up orphaned. (See also, Chumby.)

By restricting the feature set to Google’s own media store, Google is placing a bet that users (enough of them, at least) will be satisfied with that as their sole source, and guaranteeing a revenue stream. They’ve also bet at least some small piece of the farm that users will appreciate what strikes me as a hyper-specific music-sharing scenario. As demonstrated on the I/O stage, multiple users with Android devices as controllers can each add items to the device’s playlist, and take advantage of predictive search to find more items that might appeal. This “social streaming” is nifty, but requires a fiddly involvement in the “play music over speakers” process than typical users might find tiresome and twee, and it limits the in group with control of the device to Android users. That cuts out the huge chunk of smartphone users with some version of That Other Phone. It’s hard to know to predict sometimes what will become popular enough to spawn massive sales (cf Pet Rocks, hula hoops, and Scientology), but based on that demo this seems like a feature likely to be disproportionately enjoyed by Silicon-Valley style tech-heads rather than typical (“mere”) users.

It looks flexible with that collection of parts and ports, though, and Google’s explicitly announced that hacking is encouraged, which sounds impressive and provides hope that the 16GB of storage will have a use more interesting than as a giant cache. It’s easy to come up with cool scenarios for a tiny computer-with-amplifier, from zone controller for a flexible home audio system to the brains of a lightweight browsing station (perhaps with a purpose-built version of Cyanogen Mod?) or a home-control infobot like 3com's short-lived Audrey. A security system or weather app (think of a display for weather sensors mounted outside the house, coupled with a crowdsourced alert system for severe weather, and grabbing data from Weather Underground, too) would make it more appealing to me. The multicolor LED band could serve the same function that Ambient Devices pushed for its connected gadgets that used color and other indicators to convey information based on data streams from stock tickers to holiday calendars. Liliputing reports on some partial success in loading Android apps, but heavy on the partial: getting a game to appear on screen isn’t the same as being able to play it.

Why so difficult? Besides the lack of a touch-screen input, the version of Android 4.0 on the Q isn’t the does-everything Ice Cream Sandwich that many users are used to. The Nexus series of phones and tablets has first-class access to a collection of hundreds of thousands of apps; for the Q, exactly three apps are listed in the specs: Google Play Music; Google Play Movies and TV; and YouTube.

Until a greater selection of apps appears (whether from outside developers or from Google), the Q’s software is pared down to a degree likely to frustrate users who are used to playing all kinds of media from other devices — including smartphones that aren’t even as musically gifted on the hardware side.

In some ways, and especially with the intentionally sparse software set, Google will be competing with itself with this device, especially for users who’d rather employ separate sound amplification: the current generation of Chromebook plays streaming video just fine (and has a screen and a keyboard), and does a lot more besides. If you want to hook up to a larger screen permanently and thus don’t need a smaller one at all, the Samsung-made Chromebox costs only about 10 percent more, and seems a more flexible choice, since besides being a full-featured web-centric smart client, the Chromebox outputs video via a (full sized, no less!) HDMI port, and will play content from providers other than Google’s Play, like Netflix and Vimeo — and that’s just for video sources — as well as from locally stored media. Similarly, Google TV hardware fills much of the same niche, and it comes with a browser.

Also in competition, of course, are dedicated network media players from Boxee, Roku, and Apple, and (at prices that start a touch lower, thanks to the subsidize-then-sell-games business model) consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360. All of these offer a mature interface for streaming music and movies that might be less state of the art and exotic than the Q’s, but more accessible and more flexible.

I do have an Android phone, and have been considering a Roku box; now, I’m planning to set up the Q with a set of bookshelf speakers to see how livable (or frustrating) it turns out to be. I hope that the touted hackability means that its capabilities really do get a boost soon from tinkerers: for this Death Star, that may be the only hope.
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Is the Google Nexus Q Subtraction by Subtraction?

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  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:55PM (#40518999)

    It is similar to the crappy little $75 Android on a sticks all over the sites like Alibaba with the following differences:

    1. Built in power supply and audio amp. Audio out on TOS-Link along with the amp and over HDMI.

    2. Dual core CPU. And only some of the cheapos come with 1GB of ram, most only give 512.

    3. Cool housing with lots of LEDs. Because what nerd can resist a crapload of leds, amiright?

    4. Less able to actually run android apps.

    5. No MicroSD on the Q. Seems to be a trend, note that their new tablet also lacks expansion ability. Tethered media consumption device.

    6. The Q gets Bluetooth, the cheapos don't.

    7. 10/100 Ethernet on the Q.

    8. About four times as expensive.

    Things that they have in common:

    1. No clearly defined reason to buy one.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now compare a real HTPC -- it's basically the exact same list of differences, with the glaring exception that HTPCs can (and usually do) have some serious internal storage, whereas this requires a NAS. And of course, the HTPC has full HTPC software, this has (for now) a rather limited subset.

      Basically, IMO, this + some decent software (which, with thousands of devices in the hands of developers, seems likely) and the usual peripherals (bluetooth remote, keyboard, etc.) could be every bit as solid a HTPC set

    • by slinches (1540051)

      Yes, but I think almost everyone is. I don't think this was a product that google developed for a target market and isn't a big part of their overall hardware strategy. What I think it is, is a solution to arguments between googlers about which radio station gets played in the office. A couple of guys got fed up with the bickering and designed the Q. They're just selling them so that they can recoup the development costs and get a few more for themselves. Also, as an added benefit they were able to exp

    • We have got used to thinking that anything that doesn't sell in tens of millions is a failure. But this is far from the truth. A niche product that is profitable is better than a volume product that sells at a loss (ask Nokia or RIM). This thing has a world power supply built in. There are probably over half a billion households around the world that could afford, and use one. If only 1% were to buy one, that's still a pretty successful product in audio terms.

      When it comes to end-user products (I hate the

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday July 02, 2012 @03:52PM (#40520455) Homepage Journal

      I know for sure that I'm missing the point.

      I can understand a discussion of the pros and cons of this new device, and what it's uses might be and whether it's overpriced. What I cannot understand is why I should care whether or not this device is a success for Google, which seems to be the main focus of this and many many other Slashdot articles about handheld tech.

      I suppose if I worked for Google or one of its competitors, I might care whether or not a new product is going to be a hit or not, but I just can't wrap my head around why anyone else gets so emotionally invested in which browser is #1 or which tablet is #1. Needless to say, I do not have any logo tattoos, but I guess I'm in the minority. Brand names are the new tribal identifiers. This wouldn't be so bad, except that so many people are identifying more with marketing campaigns than with their own communities or families. Seriously, I know I'm not the only one of us who has overheard, "My brother uses an Android and he's all like, stupid, because everyone knows that the iPhone is so much better. It's like I can't relate to him at all."

      I remember decades and decades ago, when there were similar fights over, I don't know, Chevy vs Ford. But most of those people grew out of that and have transferred their animosity to black people or hispanics or something. But even then, it wasn't so much that the identification was with General Motors as it was with an Impala SS or a Camaro. And still, even those gearheads could have concurrent allegiances to the Milwaukee Braves or the Packers. There was an understanding that it was all "us vs them". The difference today is we have people who make a corporate image their image. They live and die according to the fortunes of Apple, for example. They really see themselves as the people in the commercials. They have the logo tattooed over their heart. Not "mom", but "Think Different" (as if any corporation would really want any consumer to "Think Different).

      For chrissake, it cannot be healthy to tie your identity to a consumer product, much less a corporation. It's not healthy for you, and it's not healthy for society.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        What I cannot understand is why I should care whether or not this device is a success for Google

        We care if it will be a successful product because it's a bit inexplicable otherwise... who the fuck made them think that making it shaped like that is a good idea?

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday July 02, 2012 @06:17PM (#40522019) Homepage Journal

          who the fuck made them think that making it shaped like that is a good idea?

          You have something against spheres?

          Maybe they're worried that if they make it squarish or rectangular Apple will sue them and they'll never be able to bring it to market.

          Actually, I have a patent on electronic devices that are three-dimensional, so Google will be hearing from my lawyers.

          • by bingoUV (1066850)

            Such a shape is actively against keeping anything on top of it. While the Q is not meant to be a rack, but it is strongly anti-user to deliberately prevent keeping of small things on it. Surely a negative.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        no...no....

        sometimes you can identify with philosophies. for example, the android is more open than the apple iOS. But to others, Apple is the pinnacle of perfection. There is also branding...

        One other thing. I don't get why you took the time to write so much about a subject you claim no one should care about...

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          One other thing. I don't get why you took the time to write so much about a subject you claim no one should care about...

          I'm part of a long tradition of literary essayists tackling difficult subjects.

      • "MY phone operating system has a larger userbase than your phone operating system, therefore my penis is bigger!!!!"
      • by Clsid (564627)

        So "people" have transferred their animosity to black people or hispanics. Do you live in a redneck community or what? As a hispanic I take offense on that kind of remark, to the point where it really brings down your whole argument about family values being lost. Thank god I live in a very tolerant society, where it doesn't matter if you are an italian, an arab or any other immigrant to be treated with respect and human dignity. After all, we all are immigrants in one way or another on this side of the pla

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Thank god I live in a very tolerant society, where it doesn't matter if you are an italian, an arab or any other immigrant to be treated with respect and human dignity.

          Tell me where you live, and let us decide if you are a "tolerant society".

          And to be fair, only half the people here in the US hate blacks and hispanics and they only do it because Fox News and right -wing radio tell them to.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      1. No clearly defined reason to buy one.

      The cheap ones are a nice way to add a network media player to a TV.

      • by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > The cheap ones are a nice way to add a network media player to a TV.

        Except they aren't. One USB port, no network port and no BT. So no access to mass media AND an input device without a hub and there goes the entire justification of it being so small and after you get done cheap is probably done for as well.

        Spend a little more. There are some very interesting Android 4.0 based media player dedicated units for under a hundred. They are designed as a STB, come with a remote control, etc. One I saw e

    • by tknd (979052)

      For specs it looks like a decent device. For price and features, it is certainly a hard sell with the only compatible devices/media being Google content and specifically movies and music.

      It seems like a premature launch. As a developer I don't care much for hackability. Random Joes aren't going to randomly go out and buy this thing for its hackability.

      What they should have done is at least provide a developer API. If pandora, netflix, and the rest had access to this thing, I'm sure it would be much more

  • One device to rule them all.

    I get mocked when I show up with my magical Backpack o' Holding (it weighs 2 lbs, add 5 lbs of stuff and it magically weighs 15 lbs all together) with a camera, a phone, a GPSr, a dozen charged and ready NiMH cells, and get the old "Ho ho ho, still lugging around a lot of individual dedicated devices, rather than an all-in-one whizzy iDoodad"

    Well, with this Google is going back in my direction so the clod is on the other hopper now!

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Over the past few years we really have seen the collapse of "convergence." Instead of one thing that does everything, companies have been more apt to sell us a Katamari Damacy-esque ball of appliances that talk to each other over protocols, collaborating with dumb devices, providing redundant services to smart ones, cacheing, mirroring, and smarting-up things that everyone thought would be wholly replaced.

      One the one hand, no one company or consortium was ever able to get in a position where they could mak

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Over the past few years we really have seen the collapse of "convergence." Instead of one thing that does everything, companies have been more apt to sell us a Katamari Damacy-esque ball of appliances that talk to each other over protocols, collaborating with dumb devices, providing redundant services to smart ones, cacheing, mirroring, and smarting-up things that everyone thought would be wholly replaced.

        One the one hand, no one company or consortium was ever able to get in a position where they could make a play to replace so many things at once with one thing. In the other, miniaturization hasn't lead to a world with few, small, expensive, super-powerful devices that do everything, but to many, tiny, cheap, marginally smart devices, tailored to specific ends.

        I actually prefer establishing the level of competency of each device I carry - GPSr has to be near best in class (of consumer oriented), phone can be dumb as a rock, I only make calls (sometimes even take calls) and camera has to suit what I'm shooting - if I require so-so, I take the Olympus FE-47, if they have to be great or require telephote, I take the DSLR. If I wanted best in class of everything, well, the prices would be astounding.

        just a sec, I just read the news on my Canon 7D mk II and need to

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If only the trinket manufacturers would learn that they need to partner with Lego...

        Just imagine, nearly-universal brick-ports.
        Your iToy dosn't have built-in wifi? Just make sure it has a 2-block port and stick the wifi plug in there (which chains support for other two-block devices).
        Want to hook a real camera up to your phone? 4-block square port and take high quality photos.
        No built in GPS? There's a 2-block device for that.

        It would take all the functionality of USB and the fun of Legos, and combine th

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not at all surprised by that. Camera phones are better than they were when I got my Razr v3, but they're still not at all competitive with a handheld unit. GPS in a phone does seem to work fine, but the battery life usually sucks and the antenna isn't necessarily as good.

        You end up paying a huge amount of money in most cases for an inferior product when you demand that it be integrated into a multifunctional unit. What's more, if the GPS or camera conks out, you have to either replace the entire unit or

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People who care about their audio setup have a dedicated 5.1/7.1 system in place already. Those who don't care can buy a cheaper alternative. Personally I have no intention to give the Google creeps a single cent, although I admit that it looks cool and polished.

    --

    Sundar Pichai is the utter asshole whose incompetence resulted in the shutdown of Google's Atlanta office. We don't forget!

  • The Q is DOA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:02PM (#40519081) Homepage

    Sorry but the Q is DOA. It's crippled and horribly over priced. Google didn't think this one out. Yes being made in the USA is cool and all but that doesn't justify three times the price over something like the Roku. It doesn't even come with a remote, you have to supply one yourself! The people that are running this need to be fired. It's possibly the worst product release I have ever seen. If I was Sergey Brin I'd be embarrassed this thing was released with my companies name on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chill (34294)

      It doesn't even come with a remote, you have to supply one yourself!

      This is a feature, not a bug. I have too damn many remotes as is. I've taken to using my Android phone as a remote for my XBMC boxes [openelec.tv] and a couple of TVs.

      The only feature I see missing on this is playing local networked media. DLNA [dlna.org] compatibility would do it.

      • by krakelohm (830589)
        This is a feature if it is not your only option. Do like the Apple TV does, include a remote and give you the option to use your phone/tablet.
        • by chill (34294)

          Not in this case. Google is also trying to showcase near-field communications (NFC). They are targeting a very specific market and trying to push things forward in a specific direction. If you want a remote, you're not part of the target demographic.

          • That's nice and all, but what you're saying effectively makes the Q a mere Android accessory. An accessory that costs more than most Android devices. That's poor design, regardless of whether you're trying to push a technology or not. The proper way to push the technology you're talking about would be to provide a remote, then, once they've hooked people on the product, come out with a second version that has killer_feature_x but requires you to provide the remote.

            Being able to control it from Android is a

            • by chill (34294)

              In order for it to work properly you not only need an Android phone, but one that is NFC-capable. That basically means a newer Nexus phone.

              The demographic that has that *IS* well known for spending money on premium items.

              I don't think Google sees this in the same market as Roku. I think they're thinking more along the lines of the original Apple TV. "Let's see what we can do and where we want to go in this space." They're experimenting on the cutting edge right now.

              • In order for it to work properly you not only need an Android phone, but one that is NFC-capable. That basically means a newer Nexus phone.

                The demographic that has that *IS* well known for spending money on premium items.

                So, rather than targeting the entire Android community of hundreds of millions of potential customers (or, more ideally, targeting everyone by simply including a $5 remote), they're targeting the small subset of that population that actually is interested in premium items. Awesome. They've reduced the list of potential customers by a few hundred million people. And that is supposed to help them succeed how?

                The original Apple TV did feel like it kinda just got pushed out the door to see what would happen, bu

                • by chill (34294)

                  This is just speculation on my part, but I think they aren't defining "success" the way you are. You're implying "sell a lot of Nexus Qs" == success. I don't see Google doing that.

                  I think they're trying to build a stable of NFC showcase gadgets. Large sales numbers are not even on their radar with this. By making it open and hackable, they're seeing what the community comes up with.

                  They're pushing the "big picture" of "this is what NFC can do". Q is one. Google Wallet is another.

                  It'll be interesting to see

                  • I can agree with that as an idea. I still think it's a poor way to do it, however, since I think they would be better served by putting out a product that is compelling to more users, then enhancing it through the use of NFC, rather than making its use exclusive to those with access to NFC. There's no technological reason why this device needs to be NFC-only, so artificially limiting it seems like a poor decision, even if it is meant as a showcase.

                    • by chill (34294)

                      Yeah, possibly. Considering it is open, hackable and just generally an Android-based computer, I can see this being fixed PDQ.

                      I'm tempted to buy one but have too many other projects going already to fiddle with it now. For me, I'd need to see DLNA streaming or at least the ability to stream from local network sources.

              • by exomondo (1725132)
                It would have been more sensible to add this as a GoogleTV feature and put out a GoogleTV device.
            • by bingoUV (1066850)

              As it is, they've killed the device even before it launched since they've priced it at a "premium" price that's three times higher than the competition and aimed it at a demographic that is not known for spending money on premium items.

              They are (promising to) manufacturing it in the US. A country that is not known (any more) for manufacturing scalability. Even if they follow your advice, and get a 20% chance of a demand for millions per year of the product, what next?

              In the lucky event of 20% likelihood, factories in the US cannot hire enough skilled personnel to manufacture these, along with the freedom to fire them when a competitor's product comes along which reduces the demand of Nexus Q to thousands from millions. If they then move t

          • Not in this case. Google is also trying to showcase near-field communications (NFC). They are targeting a very specific market and trying to push things forward in a specific direction. If you want a remote, you're not part of the target demographic.

            It's obvious what Google's doing, but they're doing it in a way that's a step backwards from existing technology! You're supposed to walk over to this device and tap your phone on it - why the heck should you have to do that? And, more importantly - why do they think anyone would *want* to do that? If this has any effect on the adoption of NFC, it'll probably be to set its adoption back somewhat.

            Existing traditional remotes let you walk directly to your couch or chair and start interacting with your TV or s

            • Re:The Q is DOA (Score:4, Interesting)

              by chill (34294) on Monday July 02, 2012 @05:40PM (#40521639) Journal

              Uh, no.

              As far as I can tell -- and this is speculation as I don't yet have one -- the tapping on the device is how you associate with it. You're "checking in", so to speak.

              Then, as long as you're on the same network segment as the device, you have whatever privileges the owner set it up with. Actual control is by standard wander-to-the-bar-or-chair remote app.

              Once you leave the local network, you disassociate. There is probably a timeout as well. "Party is over at 11:00. Cut off all guest access."

              I can easily see "master" devices such as the owner's phone being set up to not have to do this.

              Done right, I can see the local network settings -- SSID, WPA-2 passphrase, etc. -- being transferred by the tap. The guest's phone now joins your network and control of the Q is done via IP thru the net. It also gives them access to THEIR Play account as a source.

              There are a whole raft of possibilities with this.

              • As far as I can tell -- and this is speculation as I don't yet have one -- the tapping on the device is how you associate with it. You're "checking in", so to speak.

                Yeah, obviously. Again - why should you have to tap it to check in? Requiring NFC for that is a solution in search of a problem to solve.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            So it's an Android accessory then.

            It'll be even funnier if you need to be running ICS to use the remote app, thus limiting the demographic to the 5 or 6% of Android users running the current version.

            A lot of criticism is levelled at Apple for leaving out useful things that make a device usable (SD card slot + USB ports on iOS devices, ethernet port on Macbook Air etc), so I don't think it's out of place to criticise a product from Google designed to be a remote controlled media centre that *doesn't ship wit

      • With all the problems Q is probably going to have this isn't one of them. I think getting rid of extra controls and having tablets and phones directly control the TV is the next logical step and as the post above notes we're already using android/i devices to control XBMC, cable set top boxes, and who knows what else... why not go the whole way and make them how you buy the content, too.

        I have to wait to see if this works in practice, but it does seem a logical step.

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        The solution to "too many remotes" is neither "buy a $300 remote," nor "iPhone and dumbphone owners need not apply."

    • Re:The Q is DOA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KingSkippus (799657) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:21PM (#40519315) Homepage Journal

      "Crippled"? Did you miss the part where hacking around with it is encouraged? What's "crippled" to me is a closed-box system in which not only is it hard to hack around, but it's explicitly illegal--i.e. devices like the Roku, AppleTV, etc.

      I think that this is going to be Google's way of saying, "Okay, here's the device and what it can do, now you all go figure out cool ways to use it." If so, not only is the Q not DOA, it actually has the potential to be much more functional than almost any consumer-level device that's currently out there.

      Time, as they say, will tell.

      • Re:The Q is DOA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:54PM (#40519661) Homepage Journal

        "Okay, here's the device and what it can do, now you all go figure out cool ways to use it."

        Dear Google,

        Put an engineer on getting a working mythtv / xbmc on linux distro going for the Q. Should take about a month. It doesn't have to be great - the drivers just have to be connected up properly. The community will figure out the spit and polish.

        You'll recoup the investment the day after availability is announced.

        • by giorgist (1208992)
          "You'll recoup the investment the day after availability is announced." That is if Google was making money on selling hardware ... but they are not ... Some questions: 1. Why not make this box a GoogleTV 2. Why not make this an Nexus Android phone in a Box ? 3. Why not make this a Chrome box ? The answers to the above three and looking at the trend of the products as a whole that Google is perusing might indicate their motives G
        • by Finite9 (757961)

          agreed. im using an Apple TV2 which I had to jailbreak, and install xbmc on. it only plays 720p, and is a tad slow due to underpowered hardware.

          If Q can do 1080p and multichannel 24/192 audio and only draw 10W, doesn't require massive fiddling to get xbmc on it, and hopefully, with the hardware spec, lets xbmc interface flow smoothly, then ill drop my atv2 immediately.

      • by Junta (36770)

        The challenge being that for $299 you can get a comparably powerful x86 system, which is a lot more familiar and people are very comfortable with how open it is with an established market that is pretty solid.

        The problem with this is that without Google pulling off a miracle making this some hot ticket item, the 'hobbyist' community isn't going to have access to this device in a worthwhile way. Will a generic Linux run on it with Xorg, will XBMC be able to offload video decode to support high def video? I

      • We'll see what happens, but frankly, they needed to work on their other projects first. If the Q was a Google TV box, it would look a lot more attractive than what the Q currently is, and at $299, it's pretty much DOA, especially with $99 Google TV boxes out there that can do the same thing plus a lot more than the Q.

        It's the same thing at the Chromebooks. I messed with a Samsung Chromebook 550 recently, and its an impressive OS with it's instant boot time and build quality, but in the end It's a $550 Web b

      • Please point out in the US Legal Code where it is illegal to jailbreak and run custom code on an AppleTV. Don't be offended, but we're not going to wait.

        It's not "explicitly illegal" and in fact there's a business that is doing it [firecore.com], and Apple's hoards of lawyers haven't had a peep to say about it.

        Either you have no idea what you're talking about, or you're posting FUD. Stop.

        • You should--and probably do--know that there's a huge difference between, "You have to jailbreak your device for this to work," and "You can simply install this on your non-jailbroken device. You should--and apparently don't--know that the laws permitting jailbreaking currently only apply to cell phones, not to AppleTV, in spite of jailbreakers' claims to the contrary. As soon as you take measures to circumvent measures to crack an AppleTV, you are breaking the law. Apple has so far chosen not to go afte

    • by Junta (36770)

      Yes being made in the USA is cool and all but that doesn't justify three times the price over something like the Roku

      While I share the head scratching over the market chances of the Q, I think this statement could be taken the wrong way. It's hard to say the extent that 'made in the USA' is a price liability when, spec-wise, the Q has far more expensive features than a Roku. Roku-like devices make use of much lower-end SoCs, lower ram, and don't bother including things like an amp. For Google's marketed purposes, a Roku device largely sufficies (except for the amp bit, but that making a difference seems to be wishful t

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      It's crippled and horribly over priced. Google didn't think this one out. Yes being made in the USA is cool and all but that doesn't justify three times the price over something like the Roku.

      If it's priced anything like the Nexus 7 then it will be a complete non-starter for anyone in Australia. Apple are known for region-specific markups, for example the original iPad $499 vs $629 (a 21% markup) and the new iPad is much better at $499 vs $549 (only a 10% markup) but the Nexus 7 is $199 in the US and $299 in AU, that's a 50% markup! If that trend extends to the Nexus Q it makes an already overpriced device and exorbitantly overpriced device! You're 3/4 of the way to a Mac Mini or even closer to

      • by Trongy (64652)
        The 8GB Nexus 7 is $199 USD in the US and $249 AUD in Australia. The 16 GB model is $50 more in each currency. The Australian price probably includes 10 % GST whereas the US price probably doesn't include sales tax. Assuming a 1:1 exchange rate (which I would be given the current trend) the markup is only 14%. That's not bad given the higher costs of operating a business in Australia.
        • by exomondo (1725132)

          The 8GB Nexus 7 is $199 USD in the US and $249 AUD in Australia. The 16 GB model is $50 more in each currency.

          Ah yes, i thought it was 199 for the 16GB.

          The Australian price probably includes 10 % GST

          Probably not, you don't have to pay duties on imports of that cost, this assertion is backed by the fact that the RRP in AU is about 10% more than what Google is charging.

          the markup is only 14%. That's not bad given the higher costs of operating a business in Australia.

          What higher costs? Just ship it here, no need for any markup. Apple sells locally out of their retail stores so they need to charge GST hence a 10% markup.

  • I thought it came with a double-sided remote control: touch screen on one side and keyboard on the other (I hope it rejects key presses when upside down)?

    The biggest feature of this thing is Made In USA as far as I'm concerned. I'd like that to be the beginning of a trend to bring manufacturing back to N America.

  • They're trying to position the Nexus Q as a high-end device, the 'cool, expensive thing' at the party.
    It's the same business model Apple and Sony have had for years. Taking cheap product and making it seem high-end does make it high end-- at least to the average consumer.
    I'd wager that they're also trying to make up some of the margins they slashed on the Kal-El Nexus 7.

    • by Junta (36770)

      Of course, they are charging three times the Apple competitor, the Apple TV....

  • well.. I admit.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:04PM (#40519103) Homepage Journal

    I am a bit of a Google fanboy and I couldn't resist putting in an order for one of the first Nexus Qs.

    This is in spite of the fact that I own two Rokus (one for my main TV, one for my GoogleTV) and have an XBMC box for my main TV. It's not like I needed one. But I am interested in seeing how it works.

    It is likely a device that isn't going to make it, at least if they keep it bottled up and Google doesn't let other devices access the Q. If they do keep it open I think it has a slight chance. I have no idea what the chances of that are, but why shouldn't Netflix or Hulu or any other app not be able to access it? I am sure that the DRM-meisters will come up with reasons.

    As for MicroSD... did everyone here forget that the Nexus 7 is going to have host mode? Sure it is not built in, but you can use SD cards all you want.

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:10PM (#40519163)

    What does that mean?

    • by Greger47 (516305)
      Addition?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iluvcapra (782887)

      Instead of the squishy Apple-ism of "less is more," the Nexus Q is perhaps "less is less."

    • It means that the article's author, the editor, and indeed most of the commenters and readers of this story will all have no idea what this story is really about, no idea of what to say in response to it, and no idea of how to respond to the comments that are made.

      This thread is basically going to be the online version of an art student stoner party discussing the Nexus. Enjoy reading 100 commenter talking past one another.

  • On the other hand, it’s worth mentioning that a decent 12.5W/channel isn’t necessarily something to sneeze at. Just because some receivers have 7 or more channels and behemoth claimed power ratings, with efficient speakers just a few watts can fill any less-than-cavernous room with decent sound, especially if it won’t be pushing giant bass drivers.

    Living Room: 22' x 24' x 14'

    All your BASS are belong to us...

  • Targeted Advertising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bigby (659157) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:14PM (#40519235)

    And their business model has changed?

    They just adding entry/collection points for their tried and true business model. Nothing more; nothing less.

  • This device will be slow to adopt and I think that is alright. I don't have NFC on my phone, but I bet in a year or so, my phone will have it. Google doesn't want to wait for NFC to be common place before attempting to have applications and solutions for it (Google Wallet/Pay). I suspect Google is implementing this device/system as a means to eventually see us paying for groceries, dinners, bus fare, etc with our Android based phones rather than simply making playlists.
  • by ThermalRunaway (1766412) on Monday July 02, 2012 @03:06PM (#40519843)
    I'm not an Apple fanboy (or Android). But I do like the AppleTV, its small and cheap ($99), and streams everything that I care about... my music library, Netflix, and I can rent moves from iTunes. While its missing some items like Hulu, or expandable apps... for $99 I don't care. And the new screen mirroring features are pretty nice.

    Q could be interesting, but for 3x the price, what exactly am I getting? Android only, can't stream Pandora, etc, no screen casting option. Even AppleTV supports streaming from Android (via a 3-rd party app).

    If Q were $100 or maybe even $150, I would seriously consider it just to get away from Apple, and for the potential hacks that will come, but they screwed up the procing big time.
    • Or vs Roku. I would be surprised if Nexus Q can beat Roku in features, price or hardware.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Nexus Q will never beat any of the competing device on price. That's because Google intentionally chose to manufacture it entirely in the United States, with its higher labor costs. They could have outsourced this to Asia, as all the other competitors do, but they wanted to see if they could kick some action into the failing domestic economy. This is the price business pays for NOT outsourcing manufacturing to other countries. Fortunately, Google is successful enough to be able to absorb a loss on i

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        The Nexus Q will never beat any of the competing device on price. That's because Google intentionally chose to manufacture it entirely in the United States, with its higher labor costs.

        If it were 50% more expensive than an Apple TV - or maybe a bit more considering it includes an amplifier - I could believe that.

        But three times the price? More than the Nexus Tablet? Seriously?

  • Intentionally crippling the Nexus 7 so you have to buy the Nexus Q really is a FU to loyal customers.

    Nexus 7 has no MHL and no SD Card. Cripple functionality to sell addons and services, that's not cool google.

  • I sat and watched IO and - I just couldn't figure it out. "What does it do?" I sat there thinking. Google couldn't articulate what the Q accomplishes, how do they expect people to want to buy them? HTPC, the AppleTV, they all solve a discrete problem set. This is sort of like "hey it plugs into the wall, buy it"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's trying to solve the "how can google completely lock people into the google ecosystem" problem.

      I attended IO and received the Q as well as all the other interesting toys. Over the weekend I finally had a chance to test the Q head-to-head with an AppleTV. Hands down the AppleTV won. The AppleTV could stream all my favorite music, videos and photos locally was a Windows box. None of the content was purchased through mythical "Apple lock-in". Plus, Netflix works out of the box.

      Meanwhile, the Q required an

      • by n7ytd (230708)

        ...Meanwhile, the Q required an Android device running Jelly Bean in order to activate the Q. The Android device was also the only way to control the Q.

        Wow, seriously? I not only have to have an Android device, but an Android device running a version of the OS that was only released last week? So, apparently the only people who can use the Q are the people who attended I/O and received both as gifts?

        Google has been throwing these set-top/streaming boxes at the wall for each of the last 3 I/Os, and they've yet to make one stick.

        Local streaming is not an option. The only method of consumption is from the "Google Cloud".

        Personally I do not care about the Q's hackable potential. I have better things to do with my time. Plus, I don't do "TheCloud". Networks can and do go down. And, I prefer to control my own content.

        Now to find some sucker to take the Q off my hands.

        So let me see if I can sum it up: No local storage, no way to stream local content, requires another (as yet mythical) Android de

    • by breeze95 (880714)

      I sat and watched IO and - I just couldn't figure it out. "What does it do?" I sat there thinking. Google couldn't articulate what the Q accomplishes, how do they expect people to want to buy them? HTPC, the AppleTV, they all solve a discrete problem set. This is sort of like "hey it plugs into the wall, buy it"

      What is it that Apple TV solves that Google Q doesn't?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I sat and watched IO and - I just couldn't figure it out. "What does it do?" I sat there thinking. Google couldn't articulate what the Q accomplishes, how do they expect people to want to buy them? HTPC, the AppleTV, they all solve a discrete problem set. This is sort of like "hey it plugs into the wall, buy it"

        What is it that Apple TV solves that Google Q doesn't?

        Apple TV started out as basically an iPod/iTunes for your TV/living room sound system. You synced it (even wirelessly before iOS supported that) with iTunes just like any iPod. It could also browse&play iTunes over the network like another PC/Mac with iTunes can. Like a two-way iTunes.

        The latest one, like the iPhone it doesn't require a computer, but can still be driven from anything running iTunes, iOS, the included remote. They took away the ability to sync it to iTunes when they added the iCloud

      • by olahaye74 (801533)

        - Apple TV can mirror iOS screens or act as a second external screen (AirPlay). Nexus Q can't
        - Apple TV can be used without any other iOS device (it has a remote). Nexus Q cant. You need an NFC enabled Androïd device to control it.
        - Apple TV have more services than simple youtube. Apple TV has Vimeo, Netflix, flickr and more.
        - Apple TV can play media from local network while Nexus Q can't (need to transfer your media to Google cloud and then read it from the cloud. 2 internet transfers for watching a l

      • Besides being a readymade video-on-demand front end for my entire collection, stored on my home network?

        Q can't do that at 3x the price.

  • by steveha (103154) on Monday July 02, 2012 @04:40PM (#40521015) Homepage

    It has quite good hardware specs. Why isn't this thing running the Google TV software already?

    All it really is: a media player that must pull media from the Google Play store or from YouTube. For $300?

    I like the design; it looks different, and I like the LEDs. If this thing grows a few more features I might actually buy one. But it would be a hard sell with just its current feature set.

    steveha

  • by PMuse (320639) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:18PM (#40523113)

    fsck round! There is no value in sphericality to _the owner_ of this device. The shape is a marketing gimmick to make it look enticing to a purchaser. I don't mind a little marketing, so long as it stays out of the way of usefulness.

    Please go back to building me flat, stackable, rectangular boxen.

    Beige ones.

    And get off my lawn.

    • by Kplx138 (2523712)

      Yes a geometric shape made to look like it's sinking no one has ever thought *cough* boxee box *cough*

    • More on this - you put a shedload of LEDs on something that plays video. Some people that are enjoying a video like to do so in low light, and super-bright blue LEDs ruin this, glaring out of the corner of your eye while you're trying to pay attention to the video.

      Everything about this design is trying to detract you from the actual usage of the product. That is what is known as "terrible" design - the design should compliment functionality.

      • by rweaving (833605)
        You can adjust the brightness of the led's or turn them off. I think its a very well designed product. I'm not giving mine up.

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