How we'd improve the Nexus Q

The Google Nexus Q is the coolest sphere sitting atop our entertainment center. OK, so it's the only sphere we've got. And despite how cool it looks, and its great build quality, it really doesn't do all that much, especially when you consider its $299 price tag.

Of course, that was before Google decided to shelve the Nexus Q, ceasing sales and giving away a free sphere to anyone who preordered. Now it sits in a state of limbo as Google works "on making it even better." Maybe it'll return. Maybe it won't. We're holding out hope.

So how would we improve the Nexus Q? We've got a few ideas.

First, though, a quick reminder of the three things the Nexus Q currently does/did out of the box:

  1. Plays Google Music. And it does so with a proper TV-designed app. Song titles and albums are smartly displayed, then move out of the way, replaced by on-screen effects. (The effects still feel a little outdated, though.)
  2. Plays Youtube videos. And it does so very well. Find a video on your phone or tablet, hit the Nexus Q button, and it magically flies onto your TV, leaving your phone free to do other things. No muss, no fuss.
  3. Plays Google Play Movies. Purchase a movie on your phone or tablet, watch it on the TV. Simple.

Yeah. That's it. But it looks damn good doing it. Here are a few features we hope to see added:

Display mirroring

This is one that HTC does well with the MediaLink HD (and others do with built-in protocols). Sometimes, it's useful to show what's going on on your display. Demos and the like. Or, even better, playing games like Beach Buggy Blitz on a 50-inch screen.

Toss in Google TV already, but just the good parts

Look, Google TV isn't all that popular, in the scheme of things. We get it. But it's not a bad principle. Never mind the cable stuff. That's old media, and we can imagine some of the headaches it causes. Here's what we want: Chrome. And easy access to services like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and the like. No pissing matches. Just make it work.

Photo slideshows/video playback

We're breaking this one out from Plain Jane display mirroring, because it's a rather important feature. It's done decently in Google TV, but it's not great.  We love to return from trips and show off pictures and videos on the big screen. There's no reason the Nexus Q couldn't handle this one, too.

Total volume control

That just sounds good, doesn't it? We're not sure about the feasibility of this one, but picture this: There's a large sphere sitting on your entertainment center, and the top half of it spins to control the volume level of music and video playback. That's all fine and dandy, but when you're watching TV or DVD or whatever, it's worthless. I long for the day when I can casually walk by and turn it to lower the volume on whatever kid shows my kids are blasting their ears with.

Google Gaming

It's attached to your big screen, has all sorts of wireless connection options, so why not hook a couple game controllers up to it and run with it? The Nexus Q has 16GB of internal storage, and a full size USB port means plenty of room for expansion. It probably won't run Crysis, but it should handle plenty of the fun multiplayer games we already have on the Android platform.

A true launcher and Google Play access

Of course to do any of these things we need a proper user interface, and some way to get content on the Q itself that doesn't involve terminals and voodoo. The standard Android phone or tablet interface isn't going to cut the mustard, but something close to the Google TV interface could. The folks in Mountain View are smart, we're sure they could figure something out to give us a way to access these ideas.

Will it happen? Will the Nexus Q fade away? Or will Google bring it back stronger than before? News at 11.

  • In my opinion mirroring is the most important thing.
  • I agree, that's the only iPhone feature I'm jealous of. How well it places with Apple TV.
  • With an hmi to hdmi adapter, $20 amazon, and hd 10 foot cable, I mirror my gnex to my flatscreen, can play games, video, tv, browser for the net. As soon as I get a ps3 controller with bluetooth and root sixaxis, I'll be able to play my phone games like shadow gum, mass effect, and so on mirrored on my Tv from Gnex.
  • Agreed! But I would also like to see standard HIGH QUALITY analog RCA outputs, for hooking to a plain jane 2-channel music system! Ditch the weak 12.5 watt per channel amps and lower the price!
  • YES! I can't believe that the original Nexus Q didn't have that. Personally I don't care too much about having a TV interface at all - I just want a dedicated Google Music streamer of high audio quality. But PLEASE make it support gap less playback!
  • I have both Apple TV and Nexus Q. I keep Apple TV to make up for Nexus Q missing features. Personally I prefer the Nexus Q. It's a cool device. I might do the root and add Chrome and launcher so I can use all the Google Play apps on my TV. In my experience jailbreaking Apple TV you don't gain much with the jailbreak. I'm thinking you get the same result rooting Nexus Q.
    Google needs to get behind this product with full force and make it a mini computer which it already pretty much is. It just needs a lower price point and some real software development adding tons of features.
  • Just rooting won't gain you much directly (when does it ever?). However, devs have put full apps and everything on it, turning it into a full Android device. Biggest problem with it's current form is controls, but if you look around, I do believe devs have come up with a way to use it as basically a Google TV type device.
  • This device made the OUYA more impressive to me. I hope some of the functionality listed in this article is included in the OUYA.
  • Add optical output for high quality music streaming
  • Pretty much the only way they might get me interested in the Q is to make it $99. I'm wanting another Google TV but at that $300 pricetag I'll pass on the Q, even if it does do all the Google TV stuff.
  • News at 11?
  • Pull the amp out, make it hook to an existing TV audio input or surround receiver and just make it the most bad ass, and feature packed GoogleTV out there. IR, BT and RF remote capabilities, wireless mirroring from android devices, ala Apple AirPlay, pass through to hook to existing cable or satellite and can control set top box using IR blaster and can also overlay info about shows your watching.
  • The Q is dead. Give it 100% of what you just asked for and what will it have to beat the Ouya? The spinny volume control thing and speaker outputs. Big freakin' deal. There are existing apps in the Play store to do everything else.
  • Support. See today's Samsung news about why that's important.
  • But, Phil...I thought it was great just the way it was? ; )
  • Solid mirroring in HD would be a big seller for me. I'd love to mirror my GNEX playing Onlive while using my Xbox controller. But, like others have said, the biggest barrier to entry is the $300 price. I'd be willing to pay $149 since its direct from Google and at least partially made in America, but I need the same or better functionality as something like the Co-Star.
  • Roll out mirroring first. With that, I could do most of what's on the list, like photos, videos, Chrome browsing, gaming. Once it has mirroring, then adding everything else (so I could save my phone/tablet's battery) would be icing.
  • First of all, "The Nexus Q" is an awful name. The general public doesn't know what the heck that means. Secondly what you described was essentially GoogleTV but with better streaming/syncing functionality. They need to just meld The Q and GoogleTV and just call it the Google NexusTV. Support apps/Play, support gaming (and controllers), support mirroring/streaming audio/video (DLNA,Miracast,Airplay,Q,MediaLink,etc). The Q as it stands, just seems like a really pared down GoogleTV but in a cool box...I mean ball...with a custom music party app.
  • I was thinking about this the other day.. Mirroring/streaming of music straight from your android phone/tablet (OR, dare I say, iPhone) would be awesome. I don't want to plug anything into anything. This should be easier for us already, without having to some sort of crazy VCN server BS or use bluetooth audio.
    Better video options, I agree with Google TV on it, it'd be awesome. Why not just make this the flagship Google TV device. I would buy it in an instant if it played nice with my TV!
  • Just install xbmc on it and call it a day
  • I've been using HDMI out since the Moto X came out (which sucked without actual mirroring). When I finally subscribed to Netflix, I use that feature all the time. I bought a used Droid Razr with a cracked screen that primarily sits underneath the TV to stream Netflix over my wifi. I was PUMPED to get my Motorola bluetooth smart remote to work with it - but was really disappointed to find out Voice Search doesn't work with a bluetooth input. Would be nice to walk by and say "Listen to Brittany Spears Lucky" I'm tempted to say I would want voice operation with the Q, but if you just had mirroring, it would cover pretty much everything through the interface in the phone - seems pretty obvious to me that this would add a boatload of value to any android phone, ever. I have no idea why it didn't come out stock - unless there were proprietary issues.
  • I really like the Q, for its industrial design and its name. This should really be a hero device for a new generation of google tv. This is what it would need. - Strip out the amp as it adds a lot of unnecessary cost
    - Add gaming with optional game controllers
    - Add display mirroring
    - Minimal remote. Simplify its usage like the boxee box or Apple TV. You don't need 500 buttons, it isn't user friendly.
    - I like the total volume control idea
    - Mirroring of course
    - Low price point to attract game developers to Android ala Ouya. In fact, buy the whole Ouya team and get them on Q.
    - USB Host for External Drives, attachable RF dongles, attachable antennas, wireless keyboards and mice, etc. This would mean that the initial buyer is only paying for what they want with a strong list of optional accessories at launch.
  • For me it would be both at the same time and has been mostly stated already Price Drop and Mirroring.
  • Lucky gits, getting a free Nexus Q, I what one :(
  • Here's an idea, Google is making the Q wireless with everything why not ditch the cables hooking into the back of it but leave connections to be charged once in awhile or even have a charging pad it sits on so its always charged...something along those lines. THAT would make it look even more awesome looking. It's like putting wings on a bird that can't fly.
  • With the future of Squeezebox a bit uncertain, it would be a nice replacement if you could stream your network shared music including hires FLAC files (at least up to 24/96). Should be stream-able over HDMI. Have a well designed screen interface with album art, visualization, screen saver options, etc. Don't half-ass the interface or why bother? Make it controllable through Android and iOS (gasp) phones and tablets. I agree the amp is a waste of space and money. People can add amplified speakers if they need that.
  • I have a feeling it ain't coming back. If it had mirroring alone, I'd pay $100 without thinking about it. If it had full GoogleTV Functionality, maybe up to $200. Would be nice to have something made in the US in the entertainment center... just not something that's next to useless in it's current iteration. Also, pricing needs to get realistic in the Play store for movies, tv, etc. $5 movie deals are fine, but they're SD. Why do you even offer SD? If anything, that keeps me from buying ANY content, since if a 4K copy is released, it's unlikely that I'll be able to spend $2 to "upgrade" my purchase, but will instead be asked to spend another $20 to get a 4K copy. No thanks... how about for $15 (max) you sell me a copy that gets updated just like my apps do. Paying some monkey to run a machine to rescan film in at a higher resolution does not justify paying full price to re-acquire...
  • I lucked out and grabbed a Q off eBay for 99 bucks. I'm going to hack it so it can run apps.
  • The thing is I am more interested in getting one of these $99 HDMI Android sticks that are about. Just Android plugged into the TV. Do one of these, but with a bit more upmarket specs than they commonly have, and I'm sold. For me that would be far more useful than either a Q or a Google TV.
  • I'd have to say that I truly agree with everything on this list. I think had all these features been available upon the. Announcement of the q, people would've been lining up to get one.
  • I just want Google to Buy Nintendo... And come out with the Wii Sphere! What would that do to the Console Gaming Market? Android and Nintendo games on a console.
  • Just, you know, make it do stuff.
  • I can't take it seriously if it doesn't support gapless.
  • wish I had preordered it. Keep coming across instances at home where I be like "man if I had that stupid sphere I wouldn't need to walk to my pc to change a song when I'm in the other room out watching my Google play content would be way easier on that thing" it may be lacking in features but from what I've heard it does those two things well..... Bummer
  • Stick teamviewer on your phone and control your PC from anywhere...
  • Try gizmotakeout. You could just rent it
  • So this couldpretty much own the ouya?
  • Please add to the list:- 1. RELEASE IT OUTSIDE OF THE STATES!!
  • I love my Q. Wish it somehow would integrate with Google tv.
  • Just noticed, gizmotakeout has this up for rental for around 15$ for a week. Would love to see those LED lights