So this one I had the chance to play with and now review because of my little brother being a pain in the ass and me basically being slick enough to convince him to get something I wanted to play with. Siblings are the crabgrass on the lawn of life, to paraphrase Charles Schultz. Regardless, my brother basically learned about Kodi quite some time back and has been bothering me incessantly to install it on something for him. He was absolutely terco that he wanted the Amazon Fire Stick or the Amazon Fire TV but I managed to convince him that Android is better and thus this past Thursday he picked one up at Best Buy and brought it over for me to play with.

Here’s my thoughts on it.

What’s in the box?

You knew I was gonna include that, didn’t you?

Well, what you see in the pic above is what’s in the box, that and a few “quick start” guides and how to setup the device. It’s as basic as you can get.

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One thing worth noting, which is always worth noting, is that you do not get an HDMI cable to hook this up to your TV out of the box. You have to buy one separately.

How’s the design? Also how big is it?

Design wise it’s absolutely as plain as what you see in that pic. It’s definitely well built though, it does have a bit of weight to it, and it can clearly take a drop to the floor. I know because my hands sometimes go full retard and just do their own thing and a second after taking it out of the box I promptly dropped the device. I have carpeted floor but that hasn’t stopped stuff from getting messed up before, I naturally panicked as I am prone to do whenever I drop any electronic device on the floor and instantly coddled it and made sure it was okay after picking it up. It was. I then ran the wires (power cable and HDMI cable) to where they needed to go and fired the device up.

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It’s worth mentioning that the power button on the device is actually on the bottom. Pressing it for a bit too long will take you right to the bootloader. Seeing as this is a Nexus device that’s both good and bad. Good as in you can easily access the bootloader. Bad as in people unfamiliar with the bootloader screen (and it looks just the same as on any other Nexus!) will think the device is broken either out of the box or because they did something wrong. (You can navigate the bootloader using the included remote.)

Since I didn’t take pictures when I was using the device I have no real pics or screenshots to provide, but the size of the Nexus Player is roughly equivalent to stacking ten CDs or DVDs (sans cases) on top of one another. Seriously. It’s not that big, so it can be discreetly tucked away in any entertainment stand.

The remote itself is nothing to write home about. It’s relatively small, I don’t have exceptionally small or big hands but if I put it on my middle finger matching the top tip it would reach about halfway down to the palm of my hand. It’s also incredibly light. Far more so than I liked, I kept forgetting I had it in my hand and then looking around my room for it. Also, I talk with my hands. A lot. So having something that light in my hands just creates all kinds of potential for a mini missile to someone’s face.

Setting it up is easy?

Beyond so. This has to be the easiest setup I’ve ever done for any Android device. You turn it on, punch through a screen or two using the remote (and damnit is that annoying, entering WiFi passwords using the remote and onscreen keyboard is so tedious) and then it takes you to a screen where it ask you to either use your smartphone/tablet or computer to finish setup. Basically sync your Nexus Player to your Gmail account. Once you’ve mostly done that you’ll see a PIN you have to enter and that’s it. You’re setup.

At that point you’ll be taken to the “homescreen” as I took to thinking of it and from there it’s off to the races.

That’s it? That’s all there is?

Pretty much. I mean that’s the view when you’re finally setup. The selection of apps is rather limited at present, but that’s slowly changing. Although don’t expect to go nuts with this thing. The Nexus Player only comes with 8 GB of internal storage, of which 5.8 GB is free for you to use as you see fit. (That remains the same even if you get one now. Expect a system update though pretty much out of the box. Although you don’t have to do that right away, you can check the System Update option once you’ve got it fully setup and the 5.1.1 update will appear. It’s a little over 100 MB to download.)

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Naturally, once it’s tied to your Gmail account anything you’ve purchased in Movies & TV, subscribed to in YouTube, uploaded or added to your library in Google Play Music, and so on and so forth is there ready and waiting for you to enjoy.

That’s just a quick few pics of what you’ll see in a handful of apps.

Diving into Settings is where things have the potential to get fun, provided you love tinkering!

If you’ve used one Nexus you’ve used them all.

Seriously. Go to About Device, scroll down to Build Number and hit the center circle on your remote seven times. Then restart your device and oh look at that! Developer options! And then you know what to do from there, hook it up to your computer and work some ADB magic if you’re so inclined.

All you really need though is two things in my opinion.

The Sideload Launcher by Chainfire and Kodi for Android (you’ll need the x86 version for the Nexus Player).

The Sideload Launcher itself allows you to launch any apps not seen in your app bar on the device. Basically it’s a launcher for anything you sideload (and you’ll need to use ADB to sideload any apk files, keeping in mind not all apps are working properly with the device if you keep it fully stock, which means some will be too large to properly view on the screen and some will appear sideways and so on and so forth).

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Kodi is what you really want to setup properly and for that you’ll need a proper guide (even if it didn’t fully help me and just confused me a bit I eventually got everything done correctly, mostly from my “fuck it let’s see what I find when I click here” mindset).

I mean seriously, you want Kodi. Once you install a few add-ons you’ll be in “what do I watch” heaven or hell depending on your point of view of your choices at that point. (Also known as “Netflix syndrome”. Aka there’s too much to choose from.)

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IceFilms, UStvnow, and YIFY are the three I can think of worth having off the top of my head. There are definitely quite a few others worth looking into but off the top of my head I can’t think of the names of any of them.

And as for user testimonial check out what my brother had to say after he got the Nexus Player back from me.

Yes, those are my shoes you see there. I do not believe in having a “proper” profile pic. I like to remain a digital ghost, good luck finding a pic of what I look like. My shoes though are instantly identifiable. Because that’s all I’ll let anyone get a good pic of.

Is there nothing else that this does?

Yeah, there is. It also doubles as a Chromecast! So for those apps that are currently unsupported officially on the device (looking at you: everything by any TV network) you can still install them on your phone and Cast them to the Nexus Player.

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Of course you could always unlock the bootloader, install TWRP, and then put a proper ROM on it like LolliRock (which lets you get the best of both worlds, the full Android TV experience with the ability to install everything else that runs on the more traditional versions of Android we know and use daily). And of course you can always root the ROM or the stock firmware itself by (flash) booting Chainfire’s root image for it. (Note the command for that: fastboot boot root.img)

Would you recommend this device for people?

Yes and no.

If you really see no need for having a dedicated device to watching or listening to anything in the Google Play ecosystem then I’d say pass on it. The same applies if you already own a Chromecast.

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If, however, you don’t own a Chromecast and want a dedicated device for either yourself, a relative or friend or your kids or whoever, and like what you see above (basically what you can do with it and what apps are on it) then I’d say get it. Especially if you can get it on sale and right now both Best Buy and Amazon have some great discounts on it. Amazon having the better deal due to one additional thing.

Price wise the “stock” purchase is for the device and remote alone and the price on Amazon is the same as what Best Buy is charging online and in store (and the Nexus Player should be available at any Best Buy).

Where Amazon has the better deal is with the Nexus Player and Gamepad Bundle. You can get all that for $108.99. Since the Nexus Player normally retails for $99.99 and the game controller on top of that is $39.99 you’d definitely be saving some cash if you went with Amazon’s bundle.

Although I feel most people could get by with just the Nexus Player.

Any other thoughts?

Not really.

Honestly, had the device not been on sale at Best Buy with an additional discount on top of that (my brother had something he had to return and they gave him credit towards the purchase of this, bringing it down to $50 total for his Nexus Player) I probably wouldn’t have gotten to play with this. We have several Chromecasts in the house, so we wouldn’t have bought this considering what it’s used for. (Basically everything we can do with our Chromecasts we can do with this.)

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And while I am intrigued by Android TV, I’d shell out for the NVIDIA SHIELD or NVIDIA SHIELD Pro over this solely for the additional functionality that NVIDIA included in their Android TV setup. (The eventual release of Android M and its ability to treat external storage or external storage devices as internal storage makes NVIDIA’s offerings the better option in the long run. And that’s completely ignoring the fact that NVIDIA made both SHIELD devices read external storage already, has a beast of a processor and 3 GB of RAM on top of that to power it and make it, hands down, the best Android TV device on the market.)

Although the SHIELD and SHIELD Pro respectively cost $199.99 and $299.99 (although the latter gets you a 500 GB hard drive as opposed to the 16 GB internal storage of the former, although both have 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 microUSB 2.0 port, and a microSD card slot on top of that).

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At the end of the day though it’s your cash so do what you want. If you want this, get it. If you don’t, don’t.

Completely unrelated note, TIL “pepperoni” can come off as derogatory.

Your usual Wednesday Android Update should go up later today. This post should have gone up yesterday, but I was on a sweet tear writing a short story I’d had as an idea in my head for some time now and that took priority over everything yesterday.