Nexus Player

- Is it worth a try?

Published at 25 May 2009


Google recently launched the Nexus Player in Norway, and I didn’t hesitate to order one when the opportunity arose. As a long-term user of Chromecast, I was curious whether it could address some of the weaknesses of that little dongle. Here’s a brief first impression after just over a week’s use.

Nexus Player

Is it just an ultra-expensive Chromecast?

Key Specifications Quad-core Intel Atom 1.8Ghz processor 1 GB memory 8 GB storage 802.11ac WiFi HDMI output (1920 x 1080 / 60Hz) Bluetooth remote w/ voice search

User experience

In summary, I would say I’m very pleased with the puck on the TV bench, and I think it has great potential. Of course, it’s not perfect, but in my eyes, it has more strengths than weaknesses, especially compared to the Chromecast. However, keep in mind that we are currently using it as a pure media player, so we haven’t spent any time testing the games available. (Partly because I didn’t order the gaming controller)


  • Significantly better wifi compared to Chromecast
  • Can be used without internet access (except for voice search)
  • Ability to play games (with game controller as optional equipment)
  • You can also cast to it like a Chromecast, from apps that support it.


  • Thin selection of apps in the Play Store
  • Google Cast has shown signs of inconsistency, especially from my phone. Needs more testing before anything can be concluded.
  • Costs the same as 3 Chromecasts, so if casting is the only use case, perhaps that option should be considered.
Nexus Player - Closeup

Addressing the elephant in the room; the selection of applications for the platform is currently quite thin. Fortunately, the most important one for us, namely Plex, is available, and we, therefore, have support for local playback directly on the Nexus Player. One of the major sticking points for Chromecast is the need for internet access, which then prevents playback of content stored on the Plex server in the house at the moment we lose the internet connection, something that happens every now and then.

Casting from external devices works exactly the same way as with a Chromecast. Here I’ve had trouble finding the device, but this is especially true from my phone (a Nexus 5, with Android 5.1). I’m not ruling out that this could be a problem with that, and not with the Nexus Player. Casting from my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPad 2 works seemingly flawlessly. We cast from the NRK app, ViaPlay, YouTube, and Plex.

The price is steep compared to Chromecast, but I believe we get a good return on the investment by having a Nexus Player in the living room. We encountered several issues with the Chromecast, including the aforementioned dependency on the internet, and also occasionally poor WiFi reception. It should be mentioned that we still have 2 Chromecasts in the house, plugged into TVs that aren’t used as actively, but the additional functionality we got with Nexus Player has really found its place in the living room.

Nexus Player - Remote Control

On the positive side, I must highlight the voice search. I never thought this was a feature I would use, but it actually works incredibly well! It’s so easy to just say what you’re after, rather than having to type it. The cool thing is that this also works in apps like Plex. So instead of having to browse around in the library, you just start Plex, click on the magnifying glass on the remote, and say what you’re after. All the options are then listed, and you can quickly choose the one you want. Google has also launched a remote control app for Android if you want to use that instead of the dedicated remote. The functionality is identical.

What now?

Moving forward, I hope that there will first and foremost be a wider selection of apps for the platform. And also that local providers like NRK and ViaPlay bother to support it. Even though casting works as well as it does, it’s actually quite nice to be able to put the phone down for a while and use the remote instead. It will also be interesting to see what direction it takes in terms of games. One really cool thing could be if it supports streaming of games in the same way as nVidia Shield, so that I can play on the PC in the office from the sofa in the living room.

Nexus Player - gamepad

It will be interesting to see what direction Android TV as a platform takes. Hopefully, it will last a bit longer than Google’s previous effort for the big screen. There are some exciting products out in the form of the Nexus Player, nVidia Shield, and also Razer Forge TV, so it can’t be said that there isn’t any investment.

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