Google has a whole new 2014 lineup of Nexus devices for Android users. Included are the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 and the Nexus Player. The Nexus lineup has always been Google’s way of showing OEM manufacturers how Android devices should look, and these devices will be the benchmark Android devices for the next year. They cover the Android phones, tablets and now a set top box entry into the TV market.
The Nexus 6
Perhaps the most disappointing and the least shocking announcement was also the most hotly anticipated. The Nexus 6 was going to be the phone to buy after huge successes from its predecessors: the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Much of the specs were quite accurately speculated before the announcement, but the real shock was the $649 price-tag. Prior to the Nexus 6, the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 were sold at prices that were incredible bargains. While I won’t go as far as saying the price is outrageous, it is out of line from the traditional Nexus pricing and only offers a slight discount from Samsung or Apple prices.
The phone has been evaluated by fans as junk because of the pricing, but the actual specs seem to indicate a fairly top end phone. First and foremost, it sports an ultra sharp 6 inch screen. This is substantially larger than your average phone, but packs a 2560×1440 QHD display with 493 ppi, easily one of the best displays on the market right now. It also has the top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Quad Core Processor clocked at 2.7 GHz working in tandem with the Adreno 420 GPU. It also has a 13MP rear facing camera with optical image stabilization and front facing speakers. To top it all off, the exterior design is quite nice in our opinion.
The problem with the Nexus 6, asides from the fact that we all expected a much lower price tag is the memory. With 32GB or 64GB models and no expandable memory, you’ll be switching our your movies and apps often. Despite being top of the class, the Snapdragon 805 processor is only a marginal improvement over the 801 model found in the OnePlus One or even the 800 found in the Nexus 5. With 64-bit architecture working its way to Android, the Nexus 6’s speed may not be considered high end for very long. For all those reasons, the Nexus 6 is definitely not the same bargain that the Nexus 5 is, but for people lashing out because of the price, it is no slouch either. Thankfully, the Nexus 5 will continue to sell alongside the Nexus 6, offering a cheaper variant for the budget or size conscious.
The Nexus 9
In the tablet arena, we have the Nexus 9 priced at $399. With an 8.9 inch screen, it sits between its predecessors, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 which have a 7 inch or 10 inch screen respectively. Both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 have been pulled from the store; it is clear that the Nexus 9 is meant to replace the two. It is noticeably larger than an iPad Mini but also smaller than an iPad Air in footprint. Unless you have large hands, this will be a two-handed tablet, though a light and compact one.
The most impressive, but least talked about aspect of this tablet is the 64-bit nVidia Tegra K1 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz with a 192-core Kepler GPU. This is Android’s first 64-bit architecture chip and also the speediest chip for any Android device by a mile. Gizmodo claims that the Nexus 9 scores better than the 2012 Macbook Pro in one of their benchmarks which is not far from nVidia’s claims that the Tegra K1 will bring Haswell speeds (Intel computer processors) to mobile tablets. As the first of the next generation of processors, the Nexus 9 will be blazing fast, but should also stay competitive after several more releases of new processors. We also like the 6700 mAh battery which is simply massive for this tablet, the front facing speakers and the aspect ratio. Lastly, it’s also nice to mention that the manufacturer of this tablet is HTC, who have made the most solid phones of the last three generations.
There are a few disappointm ents with the device though. The first is that the resolution of the Nexus 9 is a mere 2048×1536 working out to have a pixel density of 281 ppi. This beats out Apple’s new iPad Air 2, but basically loses to most modern mobile phones and some tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. The camera is just 8MP and will continue the trend of poor cameras on tablets. And perhaps to no one’s surprise, there is not slot for expandable memory. Overall, we’re very excited to get our hands on the Nexus 9 and test out the blazing fast speed. The $399 price tag is very reasonable for a tablet that will last generations to come.
The Nexus Player
And lastly, we have the Nexus Player. It’s definitely a different device, and one that no one had really expected from the announcement. It seems that the general population still don’t quite understand what these set top boxes are. Much like Amazon’s Fire TV, it is an Android device that is highly modified for ease of use with a TV. There are no screens or touch input, it connects directly to your TV and your WiFi to let you stream Netflix, YouTube and other media through your TV. The Nexus Player also has an optional controller which will allow you to enjoy some of the latest Android games on your TV, but the focus has always been streaming.
The Nexus Player package includes just a console and a voice remote, the controllers are sold separately. With the base package, you can connect the Nexus Player to your home entertainment setup and your WiFi connection and immediately begin watching shows from Netflix or YouTube. The voice remote uses Google’s voice recognition to issue simple commands such as launching Netflix and watching a particular show. We like the $99 price tag and the fact that is has a Chromecast built in. We also like that it is the true Android experience with access to Google Play, unlike the Amazon Fire TV. The speed is faster than the Fire TV with a 1.8GHz Quad Core Intel Atom processor and we also like that Asus has spearheaded this one and they were responsible for the huge success of the Nexus brand when the Nexus 7 was launched.
The circular shape of the console may be a cause for complaint, and until we demo this device, set top boxes are still in their infancy and have not been pleasant for anything other than Netflix. It’s true that Google seems to be driving Android to this destination, but we’re not quite sure it’s ready just yet. The Nexus Player is priced reasonably at $99, just like the Fire TV, but we’re remaining optimistically cautious until we see these first hand.
To wrap this up, the Nexus 9 and the Nexus Player are immediately available for preorder, but the Nexus 6 will be available on October 29th for preorder. Every device on announced seems to have met the high quality of the Nexus brand, but the pricing of the Nexus 6 has left a bad aftertaste. We’re looking forward to testing these when they’re out in the wild.