You can think of the Nexus Q as an Android that you keep permanently wired-up to your entertainment system, through a combination of HDMI-out with both analog and optical digital audio outputs. When hooked-up to your home network over WiFi or the wired Ethernet port, it can stream your collection of Google Play media to your TV and stereo system.
At its heart, the Nexus Q sounds very much like any other Android, with a dual-core OMAP4 chip, gigabyte of RAM, 16GB of internal flash, and support for Bluetooth and NFC. As you can clearly see, though, its external appearance is very much different from any Android we’ve ever seen before. The ring that bisects it contains 32 multicolored LEDs, letting it pulse along to music as it plays back.
If you’ve got multiple Nexus Qs in your house, you’ll be able to route music or video to one device in particular straight from your Android phone. Guests can contribute their own songs to the Q’s playlist while visiting, or just pick-up a video they have on their Google Play account right from where they stopped watching on another device earlier. It supports media on Google Play Movies and TV, Google Music, as well as YouTube.
While the Q’s optical out will interface nicely with your big surround-sound system, the device has a built-in 25W amp to drive speakers directly. The choice of banana jacks to connect them is a little odd, but it should resonate with audiophiles.
Google is accepting pre-orders for the Nexus Q now, which should ship in two to three weeks. The social streamer will run you just under $300.