Google’s own set-top box is no more, again.
The puck-shaped Nexus Player is no longer available for sale from Google, as The Verge first reported. Other retailers haven’t stocked the device for months. If you count the ill-fated Nexus Q, the Nexus Player was Google’s third run at creating a set-top box, following a run of over-priced devices powered by the now defunct Google TV.
The Nexus Player was first introduced in late 2014 as one of the first devices running Android TV. At the time, we said the player was a “fine first draft.” The bare bones of the device were there but developer support was lacking. Since then, while Android TV has slowly been integrated into several smart TVs and Nvidia's fancy Shield TV, the best bet for Google’s living room strategy still appears to be Chromecast.
Chromecast is arguably Google’s most successful living room product, because it is so simple. Just hook a sub-$40 dongle into the back of your TV, send content to it from your Android phone or tablet, and start watching. It’s a great premise that many people have grown fond of. If you ask me, Chromecast or other discreet streaming sticks are a far better option than a Smart TV, since these devices are more easily upgraded or can be replaced with newer versions at a relatively nominal cost.
Android TV sets also support Google's Cast functionality.
The same team that created the Chromecast is trying for another hit later this year with the Google Home smart speaker. That device represents Google’s attempt to match the Amazon Echo. Google Home will include Google’s new intelligent assistant, connect to smart home products, and stream music via Google Cast.
The impact on you at home: If you absolutely must have a Nexus Player, Google says some units may still be available from third-party retailers. However, don’t look to the big name retailers for one. At this writing major tech stores such as Best Buy, Newegg, Staples, and Walmart weren’t carrying the device.