Nexus Q Hands On: First Impressions of Google's Media Streaming Orb

By Brent Rose on at

We've spent some time with Google's new media Orb, and put our eye-orbs all over it. It's a funky little device, but is it funky in the right ways?

The little ball is actually very good looking, with it's undulating disco lights. It looks futuristic, and it's a nice change of pace from the rectangles we're so used to, though, perhaps it'll be tougher to fit on a shelf. Picking it up, it feels dense, like there is a lot packed in there.

The demo room Google had set up had the Q linked to the company's own Triad Bookshelf Speakers. The few songs in the test—including Coldplay, of course—sounded really good. Clean, but full. Good dynamic range. The trippy visualisation on the TV pumped in time with the beat, and there didn't seem to be any latency. To quickly adjust the volume, you can rotate the top half of the sphere. Smooth. When people added to the queue or skipped songs, the device reflected the change almost instantly. The band name, song name, album name and artwork would pop up in the bottom corner—a nice touch.

Inside, it's an Android device. It uses the same OMAP processor as the Galaxy Nexus, it has 16GB of storage and half a gig of RAM. If you're hoping it'll be a gaming beast in the future, the RAM might be a red flag. Google's Chris McKillop, in a conversation at the demo, said that currently the Nexus Q is a means to stream movies, music, and TV from the Play Store, but gaming could be on the horizon. Over the last few weeks, Google Play has been upgrading its library to 1080p (it was limited to 720p before), so the movies that come through should look great.

We'll be doing a full-review soon, so keep an eye out. On first impression, it's unusual—from the round shape to the high $300 (£200ish) price tag. Time will tell if it finds its own niche or just struggles to catch on.