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

We've spent some time with Google's new media Orb. It's a funky little device, but is it funky in the right ways?

The little ball is actually very good-looking, with its 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 Nexus 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, with good dynamic range. The trippy visualisation on the TV pumped in time with the beat, and there didn't appear 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 Google 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. Whether it will come to Australia or not is yet to be seen, although Google's offer to keep you in the loop via email suggests that it will make its way over eventually. On first impression, it's unusual -- from the round shape to the high $US300 price tag. Time will tell if it finds its own niche or struggles to catch on.

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