June 29, 2012 at 3:36 PM ET
When Google announced the Nexus Q, an Android-powered "social streaming device," most people scoffed. It has a silly label — what is social streaming anyway? — and a startling $299 price tag. But don't write the ball-shaped gadget off just yet, because it has the guts and soul to roll its way into your home.
During the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, I spent a lot of time chatting with folks about the Nexus Q. It's been referred to as everything from a "ball of awesomeness" — by a Google employee's son — to a "polished turd."
The price tag's what riled people up most, of course. Why spend $300 on the Nexus Q when you can buy an Apple TV for $99?
"Because it's got all the potential in the world," I theorized, while discussing the device with a former Apple developer. Don't get me wrong, I learned long ago that the true potential of anything is rarely ever met, but Google's nudging the Nexus Q along in the right ways.
Right now you can only access media through Google Play (formerly the Android Market) and YouTube on the Nexus Q, but that'll easily change in the future. Google's made sure that the Nexus Q is as open as possible to developers (and even plans on setting up forums to encourage them). There could soon be all sorts of apps, hacks and tricks for the Android-powered device.
If software enhancements aren't sufficient, then you should keep in mind that the Nexus Q has a micro USB port which could be used for third-party accessories.
You see where I'm going with this? The Nexus Q offers 16GB of on-board storage, NFC support, can be expanded using the micro USB slot, is as open as the 24-hour diner down the street, and can double as a weapon. (This thing's surprisingly heavy.)
It might take a generation or two for the surface of the Nexus Q's potential to be truly scratched, but once it is, Apple TV and other similar devices are in trouble.
The Nexus Q can be pre-ordered now. It will start shipping in mid-July.
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