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Google Nexus Player review – Android TV isn’t quite ready

Nexus Player, Controller and Remote
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £80
inc VAT

Lots of unfulfilled potential - Android TV on the Nexus Player is seriously lacking in content


Video outputs: HDMI, Networking: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, Dimensions: 84x84x23mm, Streaming formats: UPnP, Internet streaming services: Netflix, TuneIn Radio, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Plex

Google Play Store

Catch-up TV

There’s no support for catch-up TV from dedicated Android TV apps. Instead, you’re limited to using apps that support Chromecast. At the moment that means that you’re limited to using the BBC iPlayer app for iOS or Android. There’s no 4oD, ITV Player or Demand Five support, nor support for Sky Go. It’s a little disappointing, but in order to get all of the catch-up services, you need a box, such as the BT Mini YouView box.

DLNA media servers and Plex

If you want to stream content from your home server using DLNA/UPnP, you’ll need to use an Android app that supports the server, such as the excellent Bubble UPnP. You do this by browsing media servers from your phone or tablet and then Casting the content to the Nexus Player. As the Nexus Player has pretty good codec support, including .MKV files, you shouldn’t need to transcode too much content in order to get it to play.

However, a more elegant solution is to use the Plex app available for the Nexus Player. This gives you native support for Plex servers, including transcoding on the fly, so any content will play. Our guide on how to use the Plex server tells you everything that you need to know.

Android TV apps list

Surround sound

Where supported, the Nexus Player supports Dolby Digital surround sound via its HDMI output. This means that you can get immersive sound from Netflix and Google Play content (amongst others).


The dedicated Google Play Games app is slightly deceiving, as it’s currently rather empty and initially made us think there simply weren’t many games available for Android TV. However, the actual games catalogue is in the full Google Play Store app, with the Games app more for viewing your profile and monitoring your achievements. Games that you own on Android will also appear but you’ll find many of them aren’t currently compatible with Android TV, even the ones that seem ideal for  use with the optional GamePad (around £35).

It’s a decently constructed controller that takes a lot of inspiration from the Xbox, with the ubiquitous dual analogue sticks and four trigger buttons. The sticks are responsive but we weren’t fond of the D-Pad, which doesn’t have enough travel. It compares favourably to the optional controller for the Amazon Fire TV, however.

Graphics power comes from an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 Graphics 2D/3DEngine. We weren’t able to benchmark the Nexus Player using Epic Citadel, as although we could side-load it we couldn’t get past the first screen using either the remote control or GamePad. Still, playing games such as the Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion remake was an enjoyable and smooth experience. However, the Nexus Player only has 8GB of internal storage, which means once the games library does grow, you could potentially run out of space very quickly. Asphalt 8: Airborne is a 1.42GB download, for example. You can add extra capacity using a USB OTG flash drive, or an external hard disk connected with a USB OTG cable.

Of course, you can use any games that are compatible with Chromecast, such as the excellent Big Web Quiz, which lets up to five Android and iOS players compete in an interactive quiz.


The Nexus Player is a device with plenty of potential, but is currently let down by poor app support for Android TV. While many of these limitations can be overcome by using Chromecast, the fact is that the actual Chromecast costs just £30, making it by far the better deal.

While many of the same limitations can be levelled at the Apple TV, the fact is that Apple’s box is cheaper and, currently, has slightly better content support, including Amazon Prime Instant Video via AirPlay. Besides, if you want to use AirPlay from an iOS device, the Apple TV is your only choice. Likewise, both the Amazon Fire TV and Roku 3 both have better media support.

At the moment, the Nexus Player’s big problem is that it’s a bigger and less-convenient Chromecast. It’s running on a platform that has plenty of potential and, as app support increases, it will become a better product. Indeed, we’ll update this review as more native content becomes available. Until then, the Nexus Player is too expensive and too limited, and the Chromecast is better value.

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Audio inputsNone
Audio outputsNone
Video outputsHDMI 1.4
Dock connectorNone
USB portMicro USB
Networking802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
App supportAndroid TV
Streaming formatsUPnP (via Chromecast), Plex
Supported serversUPnP,Plex
Audio formatsMP3, AAC-LC
Video formatsH.264, H.265, VP8, VP9
Video file extensionsMP4, MOV, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, FLV, TS, MTS, M2TS, DAT, MPG, VOB, ISO
Image formatsJPEG, PNG, BMP…
Internet streaming servicesNetflix, TuneIn Radio, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Plex
Buying information
Price including VAT£80
WarrantyOne year RTB
Part codeNexus Player

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