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The Google Nexus Q Is Baffling (pogue.blogs.nytimes.com)
214 points by ilamont on July 5, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 200 comments



The banana plug ports are a completely mystifying design decision. I honestly think they were chosen because they made the design look interesting, rather than because they served any common or essential use case. I'd venture that, in descending order of adoption rate, these are the likeliest audio interfaces in people's homes:

- 3.5mm

- RCA

- TOSLINK (optical audio)

- HDMI

- Coaxial digital audio

- Tin can and string

- Banana plugs

Besides, if you've got speakers that are so good you're wiring them up with banana plugged-cables, you probably already have a pretty nice receiver. What purpose was served by adding an amp and making this thing into a mini receiver on its own?

As it is, the Nexus Q embraces two sorta common connectors and one extremely high-end, therefore niche interface. The most common and obvious audio interface, the 3.5mm jack, is left in the cold.

(An expansion on my reply to:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4205281

Which includes an almost comical photo in support of this argument:

http://yfrog.com/z/oe42wqagj )


All the connections you list (3.5mm, HDMI, and in particular tin can and string) cannot be used for the output of an amplifier: the Q is meant to be directly connected to passive speakers. Then banana plugs are a reasonable choice.

The question IMHO should be: why did they include an (expensive) amplifier in the Q? Most people will want to use it with amplified speakers, and if someone has high-end speakers he probably already has a decent amplifier. It makes even less sense if connected via HDMI to an home-theatre setup.

Maybe they have in mind a screen + Q + passive speakers setup, without any other amplifier/gaming console/dvd player/...?


Indeed! As I asked in my post:

> Besides, if you've got speakers that are so good you're wiring them up with banana plugged-cables, you probably already have a pretty nice receiver. What purpose was served by adding an amp and making this thing into a mini receiver on its own?

It's an odd decision the more you look at it. The sort of person who's happy to plunk down $300 on a home theater component is already going to have a much more capable device driving a surround sound system. It's not like this is positioned to do that, so it can't replace the home theater receiver.

Just odd.


Yes, maybe I wasn't clear, I was just rephrasing your comment. I just wanted to point out that the choice of the connector is a red herring.


Replace is the wrong way to look at it. Supplement is better.

Sure, mostly people that care about audio are going to have a primary system with a nice receiver and big speakers. But the same kind of person that cares about music enough to want that _also_ wants to be able to listen to the same music in any room in their house, with independent volume controls and freedom to select speakers suitable for the listening environment and context.


You can only stream through Google properties though. Can't even stream from a local PC. So even if you don't care, it's kinda funny. You have to stream things over the internet all the time.

The hardcore might be using things like BitPerfect and using their own DAC/AMP combos or whatever.


Sure, not saying that part isn't stupid, it is. But a device that lets you stream music to it _and_ offer decent amplification at less-than-Sonos prices is a pretty good idea.

If the Q was $100 and let you stream in a fashion similar to AirPlay (ie, any media on an android device), it would be unstoppable.


I think it wants to compete with Sonos; Sonos has one comparable thing, now called "connectamp" (previously known as SP100, SP120) that retails for $499 and plugs directly into passive speakers

http://www.sonos.com/shop/products/connectamp

I have a complete Sonos setup in my home, with two of those, two "connect" and 3 "play5". It's not cheap but it works flawlessly, it's perfect. It only plays music (not movies) but can play your own music from a NAS or a computer on your network (but not from your Android or iPhone phone -- you'd have to copy the files on your NAS first).

This thing from Google seems to take inspiration from Sonos; if they really want to compete they should make it compatible with Sonos, and then why not; but why would Google want to be in the home entertainment sphere is what I'd like to know...


Because the Q can then get a microphone and you can start to interact with it using voice recognition only. It means that in your living room, you do not need your tablet or something else, you just speak and get the information you want on screen or answered back to you with voice synthesis.


Fringe case but I have a Roku attached via HDMI to a 32" monitor. This particular monitor has a 3.5mm speaker output jack and the connect amp has a 3.5mm input. Connect the the two and viola. If you're ok with stereo output for TV/movies it sounds just fine.


The two reasons I've cooked up for why an audio amplifier is on the unit:

1. The device is meant to grow a whole house audio network. Your main A/V system can run the main room, but your Nexus Q devices in your bathroom, your den, and your kitchen ought not all need full AV setups as well.

2. One of the main use cases is to offer a digital welcoming mat at your site to anyone who comes by. I'm not sure what the system capabilities are for the Nexus Q, but plenty of tablets and mobile devices have pretty respectable displays: what they lack is speakers, because speakers by their nature are bulky and weighty devices. Nexus Q solves the most problematic part of nomadic computing, adequate sound: the only part of media consumption that is by it's nature required to be a part of the room infrastructure.

There's a freebie reason as well: it's cost is close enough to free. The audio chip, TAS5713, is listed as $2.15 in 1k units. They probably had to spend that again to upgrade the power supply, for which 25 of it's available 35 watts are dedicated to audio, and most of that cost gets sunk in larger passive components. The binding posts are probably nearly a dollar. There's a tiny bit more board real estate, a couple more passive components, but those are pennies. The overall cost is, I maintain, slight.

Adding more power would've been problematic: bigger power supply, perhaps bigger PCB traces, and the unvented passive-cooling-cum-metal-casing would have needed to be revamped to handle the significant heat-load. After 25 watts, audio goes from being a single chip IC to requiring discrete components, namely cooled and dedicated power switching transistors. 25 watts was as most as could be squeezed in easily.

You mention amplifier speakers in your post, ot, but M-Audio AV40's would be my goto compare, and at 20 watts/channel they're A) are not much of an upgrade and b) no slouch in their class, having more watts than many many AirPlay devices. Amplified speakers also create a much more complex wiring scenario: instead of being free to wire speakers wherever, one speaker now wants wall power, and the other speaker has to chain off the first. With an integrated amplifier, speakers are free to be moved into whatever satellite position is desired.

12.5 watts is quite a lot of power. It sounds meek compared to the hundred watts of an AV amplifier, and indeed, it won't get ragingly loud on most speaker sensitivities, but it will be loud (buy a Sonic Impact T-Amp and find out for yourself! $35 awesome-sauce battery-powerable mini amp, highly recommended!).

I for one think the ability to easily throw up cloud powered bookshelf speakers wherever is really cool.


+$20 BOM cost probably means +$50-100 at retail, though.


I had assumed that they were 5-way binding posts, but further inspection says no.

For popularity of interfaces, powered speaker outputs are obviously for completely different use-cases than anything else you listed. You aren't going to connect a 3.5mm or TOSLINK output to a passive speaker, and you generally aren't going to connect speaker-level outputs to an RCA input. The only other competing connecter worth considering is plain old bare wire.

It has TOSLINK and HDMI outputs in addition; it's not an either/or choice.

As for the benefit of amplifier integration, I can think of a few:

- Space. The nice receivers you talk about are generally at least 17" wide and 14" deep, so if this is a bedroom or den setup for wireless music streaming you might not have space for one. Smaller ones obviously exist, but I haven't found one smaller than about 11" by 13" with remote volume control.

- Power consumption. Full receivers often have ridiculous idle power consumption, and the only standardized way to turn them off (HDMI-CEC) can still have significant standby power consumption. Also it uses a more efficient class D amp while most full receivers use class AB.

- Volume control. It should be between the DAC and amplifier, but with a two piece streaming + outboard receiver your options are either a separate remote to control it or digital volume control at the streamer, which really is suboptimal. And if you want a tiny amp then there is no remote; you have to get up and physically turn a knob.


I agree with you that the banana plugs were an odd choice, but to be fair, none of the interfaces you listed would be found on a pair of speakers unless they were powered.

The 3.5mm jack would be common sense for a line out, but certainly not for the speaker-out from an amplifier.

The logical connector would be binding post, which allows banana connectors, bare wire, or lugs. As you mentioned, I'm sure these weren't used because of aesthetics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_post


I don't think it's mystifying at all. Banana plugs are probably the most convenient way to hook speakers to an amplifier. And despite all of its other flaws, one of the most exciting things to me is being able to power speakers directly from the Q. Right now, I either have to buy an insanely over-priced Sonos system, or buy a bunch of airport express stations AND an amplifier if I want sound all over my house. It's very convenient to have an amplifier built in if you want to do something like add speakers in your bedroom or kitchen.

All that being said, $300 is a crazy, crazy price for this, but I really think banana plugs and an amplifier are one of the only good decisions made with the Q.

Besides, I don't see how comparing myriad interfaces that _can't connect an amplifier to speakers to make sound_ with banana plugs is helpful to the conversation.


Hmm I'm not so sure about that. 3.5mm is maybe the standard for computer-type speakers and earbuds... but banana plugs have been the standard for decades now in home theatre hi-fi systems. Pretty much any decent speakers will connect to a receiver using banana plugs. You also forgot XLR and 1/4" connectors which are the norm in production equipment (my cheapo M-Audio speakers are connected to my computer with those right now).

Whether the Nexus Q needs to contain a dedicated amplifier that can get around an A/V receiver (which a lot of people who invested in their home theatre system might already have) is another matter.


I love my apple TV, but hate that it doesn't have a 3.5mm audio jack.


I don't know how to get a decent link from Amazon but "FiiO D3 Digital to Analog Audio Converter" works pretty well. $30.

There's a bug in some AppleTV where it has to be connected to a TV on boot or there's random noise from the digital audio out, but the easy solution is just keep it on (it only draws like 1 watt idle anyway). Hook up to a dedicated amplified speakers and you have wireless audio whenever.


Are they the banana jacks where the outside is a nut you can tighten down on bare wire or spade terminals? That's actually good—nearly all the speakers I have ever used have been bare wire.


No, that probably wouldn't have been, er, sexy enough. This article has a pretty decent shot:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406499,00.asp

Same for me, and most folks with low- to mid-range home theater setups, I'd wager – shoving bare wire into the terminal seems pretty common.


That is appalling.

This cannot be a real product. It has to be like a concept car. Surely. Surely?


I will never understand you people that use that.

Just spend a extra .70 and have the cable screwed to a damn male plug.

Nothing worse than screwing the wires every time


I agree completely! Banana plugs are awesome, and nothing prevents you from screwing them onto bare wire. In fact, that's how it's usually done, isn't it? (It's certainly how it's done at my house.)

Screw once, and then you're set for life!

What drives me crazy are those stupid spring-loaded things that many receivers and speakers have these days. The springs eventually get loose and then the connections get flakey.


I rarely mess with the connections later, so the hassle of banana plugs is not worth it.


The Nexus Q is easily hack-able. That's an important feature. Just a few days after the Q launched you already had people transforming it into a game console with mind control and a projector:

https://plus.google.com/117676109445965905583/posts/BRbJEQk4...

This is probably not a mass consumer device supposed to replace the Roku. It's a premium product for a very specific use case (as google demoed). While at the same time a developer toy to explore what android can do in different devices.


Why not just pay 300 bucks for an actual games console? They seem infinitely more capable of handling media than this.


I would agree with you if the Q wasn't a) too expensive for its supposed use case, and b) too expensive to become a developer toy.


I concur. I can't understand why everyone is so forgiving to Google. "I don't understand what they are thinking but I'm sure it could be cool". At this point I think Google's new management have decided to kill or monetize the many experiments lying around Google. This one must have been a toss up.


Hmm, maybe its actually a gaming console in disguise?


... Wow that makes perfect sense. Especially when you considered how ridiculously overpowered the hardware is for its ostensible use case!


At $300, "secretly it's a game console" doesn't seem like a great business plan. If that was the plan they should probably have lead with that.


Actually, no. Marketing this as a game console at this moment makes no sense. Because there are no games.

No game console maker has ever made real money on the hardware. If Google is just breaking even on the Nexus Tablet, even when it's sold from their own webstore, they can't be making much on this more powerful hardware.

The Google Play media sales, including games, is where the money is.

Without marketing as a game console, games will be available soon enough. Here's the plan:

1) Existing Android game developers will adapt their games to work with the Nexus Q. Because it is EASY.

2) Friends will have fun at parties queuing up music and videos and playing games. Games that can (for the moment) only be played on the Nexus Q. Some of said friends will buy the Nexus Q. Google hopes it spreads virally.

3) Google cleans up selling the media. If you have a Nexus Q and Android phone, you are going go to Google Play first to buy all your media.

I'm not saying it's a genius business plan. But it's the only business case I've seen that makes sense of this strange device.

It only takes a small percentage of people weaned away from the existing Steam/Amazon/iTunes ecosystems and over to the nascent Google Play to make this a very profitable venture.

I only realized just how powerful iTunes is when I tried to convince my girlfriend over to switch to Linux many moons ago. I failed. Because she is wedded to Apple for life. All her content works seamlessly with Apple products. The price to move away from Apple has simply become too great, for her and countless other Apple users. You simply cannot compete for those users anymore. The big boys need to lockdown the remaining users to survive. And fast.


Is this actually more powerful hardware than the Nexus 7? I don't get the impression that the CPU is faster. And it while it does have an amp, it does not have a 7" IPS display with a capacitive touchscreen. If anything, I would expect the Nexus Q to be cheaper to build if they were built in the same quantities.


Think about it this way - Google wants to get into the console gaming market but they know they can't compete yet. They need to innovate a new model. So they release whats effectively a prototype onto the market as a "media player" and let developers have at it. Its derided as bizarre until 3 years later when there are hundreds of super cheap indie games available on a number of ultra cheap Android-based console media/gaming devices... and then magically Google is crushing Nintendo


You don't need a ridiculously overpriced, underpowered Nexus Q to get to your conclusion (successful third party android consoles) though.

If anything, debacles like this and Google TV 1.0 lose Android credibility in the living room space as prospective buyers ask "Is this gonna be another Nexus Q?" while they're considering purchasing the Samsung Galaxy Console.


The Android Nexus Q app is pretty rough still so it leads me to believe that Google launched what they could at I/O. Considering how they designed and built the Q in the USA because of the fast feedback loop it makes sense that they have bigger plans from what Google currently lets on to.


With one update the Q could get updated to be a Google TV and/or support all the Android games in the Play Store.


Except a GoogleTV has a remote and an HDMI pass through for video. So it could be a crippled GoogleTV.

Alternatively Vizio now has a small $100 GoogleTV box. With one update it should be able to do what this does but a third of the price (and it comes with OnLive for gaming)

http://gdgt.com/vizio/co-star-stream-player/


Every Android phone and tablet (2.3+) is a Q remote. Google TVs take different forms from integrated TVs, to buddy boxes, to complete solutions. It would be a GTV with different ports and and as a consumer you should buy what fits your needs.


Not yet! Jellybean only, I think.


Ya. It is JB only but the Q hasn't officially launched yet. All the marketing material says 2.3+ and I expect that will be accurate in a coulpe weeks.


Heh. That a was our hack at Apportable (YC11). I was the one that presented that at AnDevCamp.


I know that this was not purpose of your post, but when I actually see the thing on photos - holy damn, that thing is big. It's really bigger than I imagined.


Thats pretty cool for us, but I don't see it as an important feature for consumers.


Perhaps if they are lucky they will be pulling a Sony Playstation?


Yikes. This is a $300 product that is incapable of doing the single thing it says it does on the box. It directly competes with Google TV yet doesn't offer any integration with it. There's no official developer story, no promise of future features, no way of using it out of the box without already owning another Google product, and I don't even see an analog 3.5mm jack. Who is this for?

Meanwhile Apple Airplay is not getting remotely enough attention. It's social, it's rock solid, it's zero-configuration, it's invisible, it enables desirable real-world media sharing scenarios, and it's already on a billion devices. Google should get out their checkbook and license it before they're permanently shut out of the living room.


What's more baffling is the lack of design:

    "If you or the friend then taps the name of a song in
    your online Google account, it starts playing 
    immediately, rather than being added to the queue as
    you’d expect. A Google rep explained to me that you’re
    not supposed to tap a song to add it to the playlist;
    you have to use a tiny pop-up menu to add it."
Who thought that this possibly was a good idea or an acceptable way to release the product?

No, it's not OK to explain that you must use a popup menu to add it. It's plain fucked up. It means that someone, all too easily, can mess up the current playlist by tapping at a song. One little movement with your finger and you just ruined the mood by cutting the tune. You can't trust shit like this. People will be afraid to open up the playlist. This strikes me as just thrown together enough to work, but not designed to actually work well, in every sense of the word.


Spotify on iPhone works this way as well. Tap a song while playing a different one, and the new song immediately starts to play. Swipe to the right and press the playlist icon and it gets added to the queue. I've messed up song requests, to the ire of friends listening.


When I click a song in my Amazon MP3 app on Android, it starts playing; click + hold brings up a menu. Seems like there's precedent at least.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.mp3


I agree. The Logitech Squeezebox does the same thing. It's wrong. And playlists are essential but underexposed on the Squeezebox.

Speaking of Logitech, I wonder if Google collaborated with them for the Q. They did for Google TV.



Indeed. In my humble opinion, the correct solution for something like this is the safe one: When an item is tapped, present the choices for what to do with it.


Why not divide the background of the item and have one side play and the other add to queue?


over-reacting a little? it takes 1x to realize you just cut into someone else's song and about 10 seconds after that to figure out how to add them to the Q instead.


I would definitely make that mistake multiple times if I was drunk at a party. If there was a lot of crap music at the party, I might even use it as an excuse for 'accidentally' changing the music.


Multiply that by the number of party participants with Android that are also trying to add their song. And this action is a bit unintuitive, so I wouldn't be surprised to see people make the same mistake multiple times (not so much if the party is filled with HN readers, but the average Android reader definitely).


"Meanwhile Apple Airplay is not getting remotely enough attention"

Better than Airplay is DLNA.... a standard that is implemented by most modern net-connected TVs that I've seen. It still boggles my mind that I have to download an Android app to use DLNA on my Galaxy Nexus.


DLNA is sadly such a mess. I really wish it worked, I have my Windows 7 PC and I have my DLNA media server and I have a DLNA TV and I have a phone that does DLNA.

You'd think my home would be full of interconnected multimedia, but it just. never. works. Seriously, I would pay a big amount of money to someone who just made a series of DLNA products that implemented the standard in meaning not just lip service.


Weird. I've had great success with DLNA and my Samsung TV. I had an HTC Thunderbolt and it was ridiculously seamless to play stuff on the TV. The Nexus, not so much.

Either way -- if the Q had been DLNA, wouldn't that have been better than what it's trying to do now?

Edit: more better english


The original nexus one dock used a proprietary protocol over Bluetooth.

My bet is that Google will pull a betamax on the Google TV ecosystem


I believe the protocol over bluetooth was standard A2DP, but it required a serial protocol to pair the device.


Yeah. I may be thinking of the 1wire connection...

Anyway, not myself not other modder were able to use it effectively with any other device unless gutted.


foobar2000 + foo_upnp, BubbleUPnP on Android, XBMC, and PS3 Media Server have all worked fantastically for me in the past. Windows Media Player and my TV's built-in UPnP support, not so much.


I have been trying to make uPNP A/V and DLNA work for years without success. From an early Philips Streamium, to an XBox 360, and now a Sony NS400--none have had acceptable results for me. Right now my biggest annoyance is that none of the iOS DLNA controller apps I can find will play music continuously without being constantly on and in the foreground. I think this traces back to the fact that DLNA renderers are stateless and have no concept of a playlist, so as soon as a song stops the controller must be waiting for the event and ready to send the command to play the next song (this also explains why I've never heard gapless playback with DLNA either). If the controller is powered off, asleep, etc. then the music stops.


BubbleUPnP Server can sort of fix this by turning a DLNA renderer into an OpenHome renderer: http://bubbleguuum.free.fr/upnpserver/


Nice! I was hoping somebody would make a remotely controlled DLNA controller to fix these issues. Just setup BubbleUPnP and it seems to work with PlugPlayer on my ipad--most importantly music actually continues even when the ipad is asleep. For some reason I don't have volume control or the ability to pause (but can stop), but at least I can listen to an album and browse the web. It's pretty sad that DLNA alone completely fails at this task.


This OpenHome is interesting, there's a lot of stuff going on here! An OS to host Web UI's for controlling a network stack... whoa, there's a lot here.

There are a lot of AV components, listed at http://openhome.org/wiki/OhMedia . Multiroom and party-mode synchronized audio are there too.


As an enthusiast, I agree, DLNA is a good idea with many real-world working implementations. But it's also been out in some capacity for just about a decade while garnering no real tech cachet, no real customer awareness, comes with a meaningless acronym for a brand name, doesn't work out of the box in too many situations, and has no standard UI. The threshhold for user frustration is incredibly low for successful consumer gear and getting lower.

Airplay works out of the box every time, with minimal training, no setup, and no discovery drama. One concept, one button, one set of expected results.


True, though if I were the "music czar" at Apple, I'd integrate Remote.app into Music on iOS (preferably replacing the Music interface with Remote's, at least on iPad, though admittedly this is a matter of taste) and add Remote client support to iTunes on the desktop.

My mom still has trouble understanding the difference between playing music on Mac iTunes via Remote from her iPod touch, and playing the same music, through the same AirPlay speakers, from the same(ish) library, via iTunes Match, and in principle, she shouldn't have to (this is admittedly tricky to get right for corner cases, but in the common scenario where desktops running iTunes never vanish and all songs are assumed to be in iTunes Match, there should be some simple logic to optimize the mechanism given only "song" and "speakers", to avoid stuffing an iDevice with music from Match and draining its battery when all the music required is already available locally on a Mac running iTunes or even via iTunes Match from an AC-powered device like Apple TV).


DLNA is useless. Or at least every implementation I have seen is. Far too little control over how the media is structured (menus, cover sheets etc.); no support for serving up formats like DVD VOB's or ISO images etc. I kept looking for solutions for my home media setup on the assumption that surely since it's specifically designed for media serving, it ought to do it better than having my set top box talk to my Samba server, but no.


Holy balls, it does so less and costs $300? It's cheaper to buy an old unlocked Android phone on ebay and an HDMI cable at that cost. You get a lot more features that way.

Also, at 300 bucks, honestly it's going to be much cheaper to set up a raspberry pi or its equivalent with some hybrid franken-software setup. Add a few batch files on watch folders for video format conversion and I think you're good to go.


Buy a roku for $50, and use Plex. On the fly automatic transcoding and folder watching, no mess no fuss.


Roku is the way to go, unless you want the Airplay features in your living room also - then get the AppleTV but you'll need to jailbreak it to install Plex. Worth it tho.


I wish Plex on the Roku just turned my TV/Receiver/etc into a dumb yet high-quality media player. I don't want to use the awful Roku remote with a 10 foot interface -- I'm happy to use my laptop or phone as the control module and have the TV be little more than a digital "projection screen".


I use the Harmony One remote to control my whole setup, including Roku. It's not cheap, and it's a PITA to program (have to tether it to a computer to do it), but it works like a charm.

http://www.logitech.com/en-us/remotes/universal-remotes/harm...


Or buy a Boxee Box for $199, it basically runs easy to use version of XBMC plus supports airplay.


So does the Apple TV, for half the price.


It doesn't play mkv or avi files.


You can install XBMC on it, just like a Boxee box.


Apples and Oranges. An Apple TV can't do 1080p.


Third generation actually does 1080p (http://www.apple.com/appletv/)


I picked up an Android 4 7" tablet with 1GB RAM and 16GB flash and 2160P output over HDMI for 105GBP (~165 USD) a couple of weeks ago on Amazon. It came pre-rooted too. (The main reason it's so cheap: 800x480 display that's decidedly lower end than my HTC Desire HD, and obviously the CPU isn't going to set any world records, but all video playback I've thrown at it so far has worked decently).


2160p? Which tablet is this?

Also iirc, the Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet versions (i.e. identical to S2 but without the phone) cost around $200 bucks, and that can play any format you throw at it. Plus since it's DLNA capable you could directly stream content off your home server without breaking a sweat. The CPU/GPU are pretty capable being the Cortex A9/Mali 400 combo.


I think it's an integrated feature of at least some of the chipsets incorporating the Mali 400 GPU.

The tablet I got is a NatPC 009S. Also sold as Tabtronic and probably a bunch of other names. It's a nice little thing for it's price. As mentioned, where they've skimped the most is clearly the screen, which doesn't measure up favourably to mid/high end Android phones, and much less to the high end tablets.

Note that I've not tested 2160p output, though, as I don't have anything that can display it, and given the marketing copy on some of these sites who knows, but that's what they claim anyway.


Could they licence it? As in, would Apple give them a licence?

The main reason I have no interest in Airplay is that it requires iTunes, and none of my media 'workflow' involves it, not to mention it being a horrible piece of software.


It is true that PCs only have the one workflow: airplay audio out of iTunes. And iTunes is a raging piece of shit.

But it is basically a system service on iOS, which does not require iTunes. And with the next release of the Mac OS, display mirroring will be built in - how hard would it be to implement it in iTunes for windows and short-circuit Microsoft's Play-To and DNLA services?

Every platform vendor needs this device-spanning mortar now. And Google doesn't have it.


I recommend "Airfoil" [1] which lets you stream to airplay devices from any app on your system. It makes my airport express way more useful.

[1] http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/



Apologies! I stand corrected.


You don't need iTunes if you are controlling Apple TV with an iOS device. In fact I'd think that's the common usage.


Apple's Airplay is on a billion devices? There are 365 million iOS devices. Also, don't you need an Apple TV to stream the media to your TV? You're saying you need an Android device to stream to the Q, but you need an Apple TV device to stream to your TV, so it's kind of the same thing.


I was counting both Macs and Windows PCs with iTunes installed. iTunes can pack up both audio and video and airplay it over to a receiver. "device" was a poor choice of words, apologies.


"There are 365 million iOS devices."

Can AirPlay from Android devices as well...

http://gizmodo.com/5883721/the-top-7-android-music-apps-for-...


I don't know if it justifies the "billion" that the other commenter threw out there, but there are a ton of Airport Express wifi devices, which support Airtunes. That's obviously not exactly the same thing, but saying that there are only 0.4 billion devices instead of 1 billion doesn't seem like a particularly strong argument.

Can you clarify how you think needing a separate Android device to control a Q to stream to a TV is the same as needing an Apple TV to stream to a TV? An Apple TV comes with a basic remote, so you don't need anything other than what comes in the box to actually use the device.


My personal gripe with the entire world of streamers: neither the Q or the Apple TV do anything out of the box - you first need to hunt down a HDMI cable.

That alone throws half the customer base into a frustrating situation, incurring a knock-on $30 expense.

Even Roku doesn't offer this courtesy, although they do upsell an inexpensive cable during checkout.


Fine with me. I can get a higher quality cable for cheaper than they would charge to pack it in, plus electronics retailers have an incentive to stock it at shitty margins for the upsell opportunity on the cable.

Everyone wins, except lazy or ignorant consumers, and they always lose so who cares.


There are a lot of devices and software packages that receive AirPlay streams now; for example I stream to XBMC on a Linux machine - works like a charm.



I agree. I saw some of the videos from WWDC and AirPlay was basically doing what the Wii U is proposing to do: multi player, split views, augmented display or mirroring. I didn't realise it was so flexible.


AirPlay remains uninteresting as long as it is simply a streamer. I can't use it as a remote because it will kill my batteries. It should instead send the protocol/uri of the content and let the player be responsible for retrieving it.


I'm pretty sure Airplay does exactly what you're talking about. If you play a video from YouTube or even streamed off your computer via airvideo, the apple tv connects to the server directly and the iPad or iPhone just acts as a remote. It doesn't use battery or network.

It's just seamless and you don't need to know how it works to use it.


I disagree. Not knowing how it works makes me not want to use it.

I don't know if you're right or not, but certainly YouTube and desktop iTunes is only a subset of AirPlay content. This doesn't really scale without providing a spec for content to follow.


Lucky for us, Apple has provided one: http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-pantos-http-live-streaming-...

All iOS apps must use HLS for videos longer than 10 minutes and Apple verifies compliance during the app store review process. As mentioned, with AirPlay all HLS media files are downloaded directly by the AppleTV, not piped through your device. I can tell you from experience it works very well.


I just performed this test and it didn't work the way you describe:

1) Found a video on iPad YouTube. Longer than 10 minutes. 2) Played it to the TV with AirPlay. 3) Turned the iPad off.

Expected the video to continue to play but it stopped immediately.

Can you get a similar test to work?


You can put the iPad to sleep and it will continue to play the video on the AppleTV, but my guess is that if you turn it completely off or move it outside of wifi range you'll lose the control connection so the video will stop playing.


I'd guess your ipad has to stay connected anyway, not for the data streaming but to control the video ?


Want to use it as a remote? Then use the remote app. Works fine and you can tell the remote iTunes library to use the airplay output from inside the remote app. Complaint solved! ;)


I think I'm in the target market (tech geek, enjoy casual music listening) and I just can't wrap my head around the multi-playlist scenario:

"The Q presumably gets its name from “queue,” or playlist, and Google is especially proud of its multi-participant playlist feature. If you’re having friends over, and they, too, have Android phones, and they, too, have bought songs from Google’s music store, then they can add their own songs to your Q’s queue.

Sounds interesting in theory. In practice, there’s a lot of spontaneity-killing setup. You have to go into Settings to turn on the feature. Then you have to invite your friend to participate by — get this — sending an e-mail message. Then your friend has to download the Nexus Q app."

When I'm hanging out, music is a background thing while we talk or play games. Not something people are fiddling with on a song-by-song basis (at most: "Hey, could you change the Pandora station?").

Apple has something similar (iTunes remote? can't remember the name, it's been that long) and I'd love to know how often that feature gets used. There's also the unspoken social rule that whoever is hosting the party generally picks the music.


They should fire the PM who came up with this work flow.

I own an Apple TV and hosted a party at home.

My Apple TV is not protected by password, so all my friends with iPhones (the last one to own an Android got tired of it and replaced it with iPhone) could see the special 'Air Play' icon (http://cms.whathifi.com/Images/189140462bli.jpg) on their iPhone as soon as they join my WiFi network. Now anyone can play media on my TV, be it music from their library/photos from their camera roll/any other App which supports AirPlay. No set up required.

When I bought Apple TV, I bought it only for Netflix but I have been using it a lot through AirPlay. It's a killer feature.


I think it was more problem of iterative design and having to pull out features before release. I think the Q does a lot more but Google wanted to ship by Google IO and would improve it with later software updates.


I agree with you -- I imagine that's why it is the way it is. But do iterative designs work when the initial product is such a dud? The original iPhone was an hugely unfinished product, but still impressive in its own right. This is both unfinished and unimpressive for what it's _supposed_ to do. I used one yesterday and it was almost entirely useless. We could not get it to work reliably.

I hope that Google has tricks up its sleeve in time for Christmas. That's the only way I can imagine this product will do well. They can't wait a year and re-launch it, like what I think they tried with Google TV.


We hope.


Why do they have to ship it by Google IO ?

Apple routinely announces something at a conference and says it will ship in X months allowing them the time to polish. I see no reason why Google couldn't do the same.


Probably because the hardware was already finalized (they wanted developers to have them as freebies to begin hacking on, after all) and they didn't want to miss out on potential media device buyers for the next X months.


I'd guess they are going to miss out on a lot of potential media device buyers anyway, by offering a crappy expensive product.


"They should fire the PM who came up with this work flow."

The PM could have done this to beat up an intransigent subteam with market feedback.


Which brings up a funny party trick - go to the bathroom and start playing porn on the big screen in the other room. See how long it takes for your friends to figure out who is sending it to the AppleTV...


I have nearly the exact opposite experience of music at parties. Invariably someone says, "You have to hear this." Whether its a new song or a magical YouTube clip of Jonathan Coulton live or LMFAO or whatever.

Having a seamless user interface where everyone's phone can, with the click of a button, remotely play a song they own or start a Youtube clip sounds fun.

But like Pogue, it doesn't sound 300 bones fun to me. For that, I can unplug the speaker's 3.5mm cord from my phone and plug it into my friend's phone. And do a quick search on Youtube on some Wii, Xbox, PS3, Roku, etc. that I already own.

And for the tech geek, doesn't the fast-approaching sub-$100 full-on Linux or Android ARM HTPC make way more sense? Why would I choose a crippled device over one that lets me do whatever I want?


Thanks, I should have clarified my original post. I totally see the need for specific requests, which is "Hey, guy with their phone plugged in, can you bring up Bad Mamma by the Jammas on youtube?"

I don't see the need for the overwrought "Oh, let me surreptitiously insert this song onto a group playlist" scenario. Exactly, sharing is plugging in the 3.5mm jack into another device and pressing play. 3 seconds vs. minutes to download a new app, suffer through config, etc.


I know with my friends the remote app gets used fairly frequently. We play different music on each other's speakers and it's really useful and nice.

AirPlay too. At least two houses I've been in the past few weeks involved streaming music to a friend's speaker system after connecting to a friend's wifi point.

Lately I think AirPlay has become more common than remote.


The default setup has the Nexus Q accessible to anybody on your LAN -- no emails required.

(There is a mode where you can restrict sharing to invited users only. Again, this is not the default.)

Yes, you need to install the app. But assuming you have a NFC-enabled device, all this takes is tapping your phone on the top of the Q.

That's not really what I'd call "a lot" of setup.


I understand where you're coming from, but I am in the opposite camp. My friends and I have wanted something like this since the early days of winamp.

My hope is that the Q will be able to connect devices with just NFC though. I don't mind the settings or app requirements, but it would be nice if I can skip the e-mail invite.


The most interesting thing about the Nexus Q is that it enables sharing a device. That is, it has the ability to temporarily use accounts from Android devices.

It can run Android apps, so it is, in fact, an Android device. It isn't tied to an individual. If this is well-implemented and secure, it's an interesting aspect of the Android OS that hasn't been exposed in other Android devices yet. If it is possible to build a similar system from the AOSP code-base, that would be very useful for people with a less-dogmatic idea of a feature set.

Most other aspects are, as Pogue points out, full of WTF.


Exactly. The more familiar you get with the Android API the more you think things like why does the activity I'm starting have to be on the same device? Can't I fire Intents to devices on my local network? Wouldn't it be cool if the YouTube activity I'm using on my phone could be migrated to the TV with all state preserved?

You get problems in terms of where the data to drive it comes from, especially if it's the class of data you'd normally store on an SD card, which may be one slightly more reasonable explanation of the ludicrous cloud dependence of the Q.


So it does have a lot.

At Apportable (YC11) we have been poking around with it and found it has the potential for being an amazing game platform.

You can read about our exploits where I demoed the results our hacks at AnDevCamp this last weekend after Google IO: https://plus.google.com/117676109445965905583/posts/BRbJEQk4...

We figured out it's also possible to transfer APKs to the device with NFC but it fails at random points.

We also got a mouse working with one of the games we ported for Android: https://plus.google.com/117676109445965905583/posts/iAsNqGrX...

My thoughts are that google wanted to ship it by Google IO but have more plans for it upcoming.


Hmm, could be interesting in a multiplayer game that uses your android smart phone as the controller.


The Q's hardware is capable of much more than the software currently allows. Hacking it was explicitly encouraged at I/O. All of the negative points in the article can be fixed with software updates. Seeing as this is a brand new product, the software currently has minimum functionality to show off its two new features: control via tablet, social playlists.

I predict that in the next year the Q will get software support for:

- iOS devices as a controller

- other computers on your network as a controller (web interface or chrome app or something)

- netflix/hulu/other stuff streaming support

- music/video streaming from local network devices

- streaming all audio output from a device (like my desktop computer) to the Q, so it can be used as a stereo device instead of just an output device

However, assuming all of those features were added, I'm still not sure I'd pay $300 for it.


Have there been products in the past that were underwhelming at launch but later software upgrades to it to add features made it a big hit?

I think these devices, especially at $300, need to be attractive at launch to become hits. Adding features 6-12 months down the line doesn't seem to ever turn a lagging product around - launch is the time when potential consumers are paying the most attention.


The HP Touchpad did that. Not because of the features per se, but the price drop allowed everyone to grab one, which brought more features along with it. Unfortunately it didn't translate into more production.


The iPhone. It wasn't terrible to begin with (a fancy phone with a decent web browser), but it became a whole different product after the SDK was released.


Not the same: the iPhone was the first mobile phone with a good web browser. (A year or two after it went on sale, there was an article that made it to the front page of HN in which Google revealed that a full 99% of visits from smartphones to Google were coming from iPhones.) The iPhone was very compelling to large numbers of people as soon as it went on sale.


You're kidding, right? You're offering the iPhone as your example of a product where the public was underwhelmed at its launch?


People don't seem to remember that the iPhone really was a pretty crappy phone on launch day, in a lot of ways. It crashed constantly, didn't do a lot of things that other phones already did, and had audio-quality problems. In the parlance of the times, it wasn't a smartphone, it was an expensive feature phone.

What turned the iPhone into a serious product, from my own point of view, was the regular stream of updates and bug fixes that Apple provided. I didn't like my iPhone very much at first, but it just kept getting better, through no effort or expense on my part. I wasn't accustomed to buying electronic devices that magically got better over time. They won at least one loyal customer with that approach, and influenced the way I do business today.


While that's all true, people still lined up a few days in advance to get one. Kind of difficult to make the point that the public was underwhelmed by it at release.


Google TV is another Android platform that plugs into an entertainment system, and Google recently revamped it, with third-party manufacturers expected to launch new iterations of it this year at or around the $100 pricepoint. I see no reason, hardware-wise, that a Google TV STB couldn't do all of the things in your list, with the right apps on top of it, so even if your predictions come true, of the $300 you'll be paying, $200 will be for it to come pre-installed with software that will probably be available from a third party for the GTV for $5.

The only thing you get with this that doesn't ship standard with the GTV boxes announced so far is an amp, but the amp in the Q is pretty puny, and if you're hooking it up to an existing sound system, you won't use it anyway.


I assumed that sharing media to the Q would show up as a new intent in the Jelly Bean SDK but I haven't seen anything to that effect yet. Hopefully something like that will be in the SDK soon!


The feature it needs for $300 is an API. Tap your phone, and it sends over the app (not a stream, the .apk itself), while said app on your phone becomes a controller.


I hope it'll get an Ubuntu for Android port.


This [the Q] is a solution hunting for a problem.

We have a "problem" at our hackerspace where lots of people want to control the stereo. Usually there are 5-10 people in there working, there is always music playing, and the person controlling the music (or the "wubs" as they are affectionately called now) changes pretty frequently.

We should be exactly the target market for the Q.

Except we already solved this problem. We bought a really long cable off of monoprice, and we bought a bluetooth audio receiver. They both plug into a mixing board, and they allow everybody to play music. Switching between who "has wubs" involves going "hey, you want wubs?".

It works really well, it almost never breaks down, it doesn't require anybody to install anything on their phones, computers, cassette players, arduino shields, theramins, contact microphones, or whatever else we decide we want to play over the PA.

Most importantly, it doesn't cost $300.

...and then one of us bought one and brought it into the lab.

Here is what happened: http://yfrog.com/z/oe42wqagj


Yes, the banana plug ports are a completely mystifying design decision. I honestly think they were chosen because they made the design look interesting, rather than because they served any common or essential use case.


I agree, but banana plugs can be added to regular speaker wire pretty easily. Most just have a simple flat-head screw which holds the wire in place, so you don't even need to warm up the soldering iron.


Sometimes when you're wildly successful as Google is with Android and Search, you start doing things that don't make a lot of sense.

Microsoft has done this many, many times as has Apple. With Microsoft you can see the ill fated Kin/Kin 2, Windows Media Center, Windows Tablet, Windows UMPC's, etc. that for various reasons just weren't good ideas, weren't priced right, etc. Apple had the G4 cube, iPod Hi-Fi, and the Motorolla ROKR (with iTunes).

When you have billions of dollars in profit, you tend to throw money around at ideas that might not be ready yet, or just might not be very good ideas yet. Google has a history of doing this in software, but now that they're moving into hardware the problems seem more glaring.


The Moto ROKR was Apple's iPhone stalking-horse - the project was likely doomed to fail commercially, but Apple gets valuable industry experience in rolling working on a cell phone.


I did QA on the E398 ROKR. It was indeed designed to fail. Apple had a bunch of very limiting requirements. Most notable was the 100 song limit.


With most of those products you mentioned, I can see some sense with them. I would say the Windows Media Center is the most successful of those examples.

The Kin is only one I can say made no sense for the same reason the nexus Q doesn't make sense. It's really locked, not easy for the user put there own content on the device and relies too much on the cloud.


> The Kin is only one I can say made no sense for the same reason the nexus Q doesn't make sense.

From the articles I read at the time, the Kin did make sense, initially. All MS had to do was make a decent HipTop successor and get it out on time, and they'd had a decently successful product. Instead, internal politics wound up producing a wholly reworked, incredibly late product that missed the market window and earned boatloads of carrier ill will.

The HipTop was very popular, and MS should've been able to capitalize on that; instead, they totally biff'd it and it cost them boatloads. To me, having watched large companies make massive screw-ups due to internal politics, the whole debacle was just too familiar and understandable.


G4 cube was pretty influential design-wise for future iterations, specifically Apple TV and the Mac Mini.


About the price. Many people been blaming it on the "made in USA" + amplifier. I'm not american, and I don't understand patriotism. And I wouldn't think a product being made in USA as the main selling point, would ever work. But before the IO I saw this project on kickstarter where they were trying to sell underwear made in the US [1]. That's their only selling point, their product is made in the US, that's all. And guess what, it was immensely successful on kickstarter. The comments are filled with praises with how awesome it is to wear underwear made in america.

Maybe someone here has better understanding of that market. Could the made in the US selling point of the Q actually be big enough to drive sales? Would americans actually pay more only because of that?

[1] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jakehimself/flint-and-ti...


Just a generation ago, working in factories your whole life was still a viable and promising career. A man could make enough money working on an assembly line to support his wife and children, while owning a nice house. Manufacturing in the US died extremely quickly with no real life-line for those displaced. Especially in Michigan (Detroit in particular), all the car factories closed nearly at once, displacing hundreds of thousands of laborers, with almost no hope of getting another job.

Listen to American Country music from the late 80's and early 90's, like Alabama, Brooks and Dunn, and Billy Ray Cyrus. It's all about a blue-collar factory worker who drives a Corvette and a pickup truck and owns a house with plenty of land. Now fast forward to the last 5-10 years in Country music, where you have Hank Williams Jr singing "Red. White. and Pink Slip Blues". (in the US, a "pink slip" refers to your termination notice when you lose your job)

Manufacturing in America is seen as something we've had stolen from us by the Japanese and Chinese. Anything made in America must be better than the Asians can make, because it was made in America. Many Americans insist on buying GM/Ford/Chrysler cars, for example, because they or their families probably worked in the American car factories. Even though these are not "American" cars anymore, the thought of buying a Japanese or Korean auto (even though they actually are made in the US) is distasteful. It's a legacy that some people are unwilling to forget, even at the expense of hurting American jobs more by not supporting foreign auto makers who do employ Americans.


> Could the made in the US selling point of the Q actually be big enough to drive sales? Would americans actually pay more only because of that?

Well, generally no. Which is why you don't see many products actually being made in the US and it's more the domain of obscure kickstarter projects. (And why the Nexus Q is such a confusing and odd exception that this makes the news.)

There is generally a notion that the US should be doing it's own manufacturing and an idea that we should be doing our own sweating for our own goods. It's seen as a fairly noble goal, but I think the market has generally shown people aren't usually willing to pay that much more for it. It's a marketing point in your favor if you can get it, but if it's going to effect the cost by a bunch... most people just don't care enough.

Also I think the motivations are mixed. It's not just about patriotism but about a political desire to see products made in a country where it's easier to ensure that the people who poured sweat into them were compensated fairly. The impression is US labor laws generally will ensure that and most of the countries US products get imported from, do not have those types of frameworks.

(Obviously there are other countries which do, but we don't tend to import cheap consumer goods from countries with labor costs as high as ours, for obvious reasons. :))


I'm starting to wonder... perhaps the "made in USA" tagline isn't a selling point, but a PR move? An attempt to bring back the "don't be evil" mantra?


Made in USA is about much more than just patriotism. In the USA, many people buy locally produced goods since it supports the local economy better, reduces carbon emissions from shipping goods half-way around the world, and isn't produced in slave-labor conditions of 3rd world countries.

(Also, you don't understand patriotism? It's tribalism, something deeply encoded in our behavior from many thousands of years of tribal evolution.)


This isn't on point with the main conversation, but anyway: other 'western' countries that are similar to the US (I'm talking about UK, Aussie and NZ here, I don't have much knowledge of the others) look at patriotism differently to the US, so it's a fair point. We still support our sports teams (those of us who care for sport) etc but it's not as extreme as the 'America fuck yeah!' style patriotism that seems to constitute US patriotism (it may not actually be like that, this however is what media teaches us).


> reduces carbon emissions from shipping goods half-way around the world

That's actually not true, as counter intuitive as it may seem. Local stuff uses more energy, not less.

Mainly because the large operations are so efficient, but the local ones are small.


The "made in the USA" explanation of the price difference between this and the $100 AppleTV or $90 Roku doesn't really hold water.

Even if Chinese workers are making $0.80 an hour vs $16 for a US worker, the Q would have to soak up a ridiculous number of man hours in assembly to explain such a drastic price difference.

Either that amp is really expensive or Google is just plain overcharging for this thing.


It works for things like clothes or vegetables. If you want people to pay more for electronics it would be better to have a "made in Japan" tag. Or make it in China and put a big Sony logo on it.


I wonder whether it's not about patriotism, but control.

Perhaps Google don't really trust the Chinese etc for hardware.

Trustworthiness is an important factor for something that is always on, in your living room.

(cue 1984 references here)


Friends at my house are able to seamlessly play music from their phone on my stereo by using the $2 mini stereo cable that is attached to it.


$2 gets you audio from phone. $298 gets you black matte sphere.


I don't buy that this thing was built for hackers & makers. If you really wanted to build something for them, why not release something like the beagle board or rasberry pi but running Android? These ARM SoC based development boards are really getting cheap and are a lot more practical for building stuff since they have general purpose IO pins, are powered by a few volts DC, and include handy stuff like serial UARTs, single wire bus interfaces, etc.

The Q is expensive, lives in a funky impractical case, and doesn't have a lot of useful IO. For $300 you could buy a few Arduinos, a beagle board/ARM SoC dev board, and even an FPGA dev board.


I can't help but wonder why Google didn't ship this thing with Google Now.

A cool looking sci-fi sphere that hooks up to my TV and lets me and my Android-enabled guests stream stuff from Google's cloud? I have almost no need for this.

A few cool looking sci-fi spheres around my home that wirelessly link all my speakers to the same content from Google's cloud? Eh. Interesting, but not worth $300.

A cool looking sci-fi sphere in my bedroom that knows I usually go to work around 9am and can wake me up and give me spoken alerts that traffic is rough and I should leave at 8:15am, and is still a hackable Android device? Take my money, take it all.


Why is the app to control the Q Android-only? Does Google genuinely think that iPhone users will switch platforms to Android just to have the chance to control this player?

Seems like you are throwing out half the potential audience for this type of product by only supporting the Android OS.


Genuine question: can I control Apple TV / AirPlay / iTunes etc from an Android phone? Or a Windows phone?


It looks like another commenter possibly answered this question, but I would also point out something possibly more important: You don't need to. That's because Apple includes a cheap little 7-button remote with the Apple TV. The iPod/iPad/iPhone remote does greatly enhance the UX of the Apple TV, but you don't need it to use the Apple TV for its intended purpose.

Just to reiterate: The reason people make a big deal about the fact that you need an Android to control a Q, but don't make a big deal about needing an iPhone to control an Apple TV, is that you don't need to buy anything extra (or already own anything in the Apple ecosystem) to use the Apple TV from the couch. For people who don't already own devices in the Android ecosystem, the Q is a $500 device, but the Apple TV is only a $100 device for those who don't already have an iThingy.



Right. sorry, my question should have made it clear that I meant built by Apple.

The point I guess I was making was that it's not unusual for a company to not provide a client for their competitors platforms. It's crap, but it's not unusual.


I'm not sure what the answer is but I think the same point applies if the answer is "no". For Apple it makes more sense though since they are all about the integrated experience; but I think Google is trying to be a disruptor here so I think they need a more open/easy-to-access solution.


The thing I have felt about Google is they don't market their features well.

They will show off a lot of potential but leave it to the imagination of the developers/users to figure out what they can do with it.

I think they have improved upon that to some degree with the Jelly Bean presentation, but I really think their products would be more appreciated if they highlighted good use cases for all their new features.


I think the Q makes more sense if you pretend it doesn't have an HDMI out.

If you're plugging it into a TV, then the TV already has built in speakers (for normal folks, nerds probably have a 5.1 surround system) and its amp is useless, and its ability to be controlled via smartphone is lessened since you could have a TV-based UI. You also probably start thinking about streaming video, which it isn't particularly good at and which they already have a competing product for.

If you stick it in another room, one without a TV, then suddenly it makes sense. It's competing with a high-end iPod speaker dock. And like those, you're essentially paying for a bit of furniture, unlike an Apple TV or generic streaming box which hides in your media unit. For the iPod dock you have to put all your music into iTunes and copy to an iPod which then sits in the dock, for Google you put the music in the cloud.


I think the Q is pretty sweet looking myself. I just wish it had Google TV functionality as well.


yeah adding some other google functionnality in it would make it succeed a lot!


I wonder what this conversation would look like if this was an Apple device?

From the looks of the marketing, google are trying to tap the "shiny and expensive" niche. It's almost like this is supposed to be more of an ornament that happens to also perform a function, after all it's going to be an awkward shape to stack under the TV with all the other set top boxes.


Wake me up when XBMC runs on it. A device that only plays cloud media is a total non-starter for me.


There are no issues presented here that can't be fixed by pushing a software update. It is definitely not a finished product but the design looks pretty unique and once the software is finished this can become a good product at least in terms of design and functionality.

As far as the price point is concerned, $300 is a lot of money for a set-top box. However, if this can double up as a game console, it becomes competitive.

Google is still an early player in the hardware field and they are still trying to get things right. This is probably a test device for them before they push for a much more competitive product.


It may well be, but there is a different view: "We do not know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not allow us to ship that." (Steve Jobs, October 2008; http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/10/apple-q4-earnings-ana...). About a year later, they did know and they shipped. I think that, for companies that have money (and, hence, time) in hand such as Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft,..., that is the better approach.

Also, "looking unique" can mean that you are the first in a new market, or that you are the first in a non-market.


If it's really not finished to this extent, you don't put it into a journalist's hands, let alone those of the public at large. Bad first impressions can kill a whole product line, especially when its value isn't clear to people.


Q looks nice, but how could they price it so high with devices like Roku, Apple TV available from $50-$100 range. Also, the main feature of friends adding to the Q is bogus, as we can anyways do it on Apple TV using airplay. As long as I am on same wifi, I can play music from my iPhone at my friend's place as long as he has airplay enabled on his Apple TV and connected to his home theater system


Maybe you can do the same thing as the Nexus Q and even more using your Android handset and a 35$ Raspberry Pi: Check out the Android Transporter: http://esrlabs.com/android-transporter-on-the-raspberry-pi/


I'm calling BS on this. You can play music that you have on your phone, you just need to upload it to Google Music. Also you don't need to plug it into your TV. I understand why people say this doesn't stack up against the Apple TV. In my mind its not supposed to its supposed to stack up against this

http://www.amazon.com/Denon-DM38S-Micro-CD-System/dp/B003R6T...

Which is does very well. It is still a little pricey, but you get a lot of features, and the promise of more to come.


I have an Airplay enabled receiver. I don't need an ugly black ball sitting on my shelf. Airplay is awesome and I dont need iTunes if I use Airfoil.


Anouncing: the Chromebook of media players!


The Q is Google's attempt to pull an Apple.


Meaning?


Or a Microsoft Zune


Perhaps it is a doomed attempt to duplicate the iPhone's path, but in home entertainment.

1) Release revolutionary device, locked down with software that limits its use 2) Sell lots 3) Finally succumb to demands that your device be the center of an app ecosystem.

If so, I suspect they will fail in all three.


Marco.org referred to this product as the Nexus Ball - much better.


Someone is confusing specs on a platform that the average user doesn't care about. This is REALLY exciting. If Google makes something easy to use that is a media platform then they finally have a compelling counter to Apple.


So... anyone want to buy a Nexus Q, new in box?


My Raspberry Pi will already stream all of my media for me remotely. With this guy [1], the Cubox, I can have even more power (1080p) video, in a small, nicely contained box. With a uPNP A/V or DLNA client, I would be in paradise (as I already am with my Raspberry Pi).

Will play all of my movies and TV shows on my server, it works as a DLNA receiver so I can play content from my server or phone and use my phone as a remote and it will act as an Airplay client.

Why, oh why, would I pay $300 for a Google Play-only device?


You forgot the link for [1], mind posting it?


Pre-order for $135 on the company website: http://www.solid-run.com/

Details: http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/SolidRun-CuBox/

"This is probably the only Android TV box that is shipped in such a small form factor and the only development platform in the market that is packaged in an elegant plastic box and not provided as a barebones system or in a bulky enclosure."

Edit: No official news or publicity posted by SolidRun in 6-month? http://www.solid-run.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=640


Crushing information if they really don't have the graphics drivers fully work and haven't shipped anything in 6 months :/


Google is attempting to build new brand value around design, so they can better compete with Apple directly in hardware. That's the entire point of the magic eight ball. It's intentionally unusual. They want props for design, not for function.


Apple's brand of design comes from selling things that people like. Things totally unlike the Q in that respect.


Apple doesn’t do stuff like that.

Well, sometimes they do and fail spectacularly. Does anyone remember the iPod HiFi? Similarly expensive, point- and useless.

If this is how they want to compete with Apple they haven’t understood Apple very well. (I do not think that’s their intention. Google is, in fact, pretty good at competing with Apple. Android does very well. They know what they are doing for the most part.) Apple is about making mass market products that differentiate themselves from the rest by their design – but they are not just design props. They are actual products people love to use, not put behind glass and stare at.

The Nexus Q is Google’s iPod HiFi. Utterly stupid, doomed for failure but of no consequence for Google in the long run. I wouldn’t read anything into it. Even the best companies do stupid stuff from time to time.

(Yes, this is a prediction. I recognize that I might be wrong and you can hold me to it.)


Good comparison, I think.

Tangent: Without any proof at all, I always thought the iPod hifi was some pet project of Steve's because he was into music. Anyone know the backstory there?


I don't know the backstory, but I was working at iTunes when the Hi-Fi was announced and nobody could figure out what the hell it was for. If it had been a high-capacity iPod (rather than have merely been an admittedly nice speaker setup) many of us would have bought one. But it wasn't, and we didn't, and it died a quiet and deserved death.


The Q is the very same useless concept of the original nexus one desktop dock. The original dock at least came with 3mm plug and a cable to convert to 2 rcas.


    Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Google Nexus Q.
    Caution: Google Nexus Q may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
    Google Nexus Q contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
    Do not use Google Nexus Q on concrete.
    Discontinue use of Google Nexus Q if any of the following occurs:
        itching
        vertigo
        dizziness
        tingling in extremities
        loss of balance or coordination
        slurred speech
        temporary blindness
        profuse sweating
        heart palpitations
    If Google Nexus Q begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
    Google Nexus Q may stick to certain types of skin.
    When not in use, Google Nexus Q should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Google Nexus Q, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.
    Ingredients of Google Nexus Q include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.
    Google Nexus Q has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.
    Do not taunt Google Nexus Q.
    Google Nexus Q comes with a lifetime guarantee.





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