home music system

Google debuts Android wireless media receiver, new tablet

Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 12:40pm

Nexus QYesterday Google announced several new gadgets, including the Nexus Q -- a spherical device meant to act as a bridge between the music and video content on Android mobile devices and home entertainment systems. The device "may be the last stereo appliance you buy for your home entertainment system," writes Lifehacker (here). But web radio listeners may "find the Q wanting."

Basically, users can stream music and video wirelessly from Android devices to speakers and TVs via the Nexus Q. Google calls is "the first social streaming player," offering an example use where friends hanging out together can build a collaborative playlist wirelessly from their separate Android devices.

Additionally, a single Android device can control multiple Nexus Qs, "turning it into a multi-room solution," notes the Verge (here). That would put it in direct competition with other home entertainment systems like Sonos, not to mention Apple's own AirPlay service (RAIN coverage here). However, the Nexus Q is currently rather crippled. 

"Unfortunately the device appears to be limited to Google Play media at the moment [meaning only content from Play Music, Play Movies, etc.] so fans of Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify" -- not to mention Pandora, iHeartRadio and other web radio apps -- "may find the Q wanting." That said, it's not unreasonable to expect that limitation will be removed in the future.

(Though Evolver.fm notes that the Nexus Q does sport Bluetooth. "This should mean that you’ll be able to beam music from any app on any smartphone," writes Eliot Van Buskirk, here.)

Additionally, the Nexus Q costs $300 (it's notably built in the U.S.). That makes it a pretty pricey device when compared to competing devices like the $99 Apple TV and $180 Boxee Box.

Nexus 7 tablet

Though "a handsome piece of gear," writes the Verge (here), "the Q seems to be nothing more than — if you'll excuse the comparison — a hobby rather than a device that brings innovative functionality."

Google also revealed its own 7" Android tablet yesterday -- the Nexus 7 (pictured right). Google stressed the device's media consumption abilities: Movies, books, apps, games and music. The Nexus 7 will cost $200 and should only help put tablets in more consumers' hands.

The Verge has more coverage of the Nexus 7 here and you can find more out the Nexus Q from Ars Technica here and the New York Times here.

Forecast: majority of home audio products will ship with network connectivity, web radio compatibility by 2014

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 12:00pm

In coming years most home audio products will ship with the ability to somehow stream web radioBy 2014, 60% of home audio products shipped in the U.S., Europe and Japan will include network connectivity -- meaning the ability to stream web music directly and/or connect to other web-connected devices, like an iPhone. That's according to a new forecast from Futuresource Consulting.

In 2012, 10% of home audio products will ship with such connectivity.

Futuresource Consulting also predicts that 62% of of AV receivers will ship with network connectivity this year, up from 28% last year. By 2015, 90% of receivers shipped will be able to somehow play web content.

WD TV LiveWeb radio and mobile devices may be driving the trend, says Futuresource.

"Subscription services and Internet radio are also, [in addition to iPhones and iPads], driving more interest in networking, and with the inclusion of Wi-Fi enabled devices, consumers can stream music directly through installed apps rather than relying on embedded technology," a Futuresource spokesperson said.

Twice.com has more coverage here.

Meanwhile, SiliconValley.com reviews two such home entertainment streaming devices you may not have heard of: the WD TV Live from Western Digital (pictured left) and Netgear's NeoTV Streaming Player.

Both offer access to web radio services like Pandora and TuneIn, while the latter even includes Spotify. You can find SiliconValley.com's review of the devices here.

New Google project may be "a Sonos competitor," says Engadget

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 11:25am

Google is developing a home entertainment systemGoogle is developing a home entertainment system with a focus on wireless music streaming, according to the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other publications.

The system would reportedly be based around Google-made devices (unlike Android and Google TV devices, which are made by third-party manufacturers). It would include a hub device with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in, wireless speakers, and would be controlled by smartphones and tablets. Google will apparently test the system over the summer.

"Like Apple AirPlay does for iOS, it would stream music from Android devices to home entertainment systems, which are usually the nicest speakers in the house," comments Eliot Van Buskirk at Evolver.fm.

There's no word yet on whether the system will involve radio in some way. One would expect Google's own cloud music service -- which includes a Pandora-like Instant Mix feature (RAIN coverage here) -- will be included.

"Google’s larger goal, a person closely tied to the project said, was to connect everything in the home to the Internet, including light bulbs, speakers and TV sets," writes the New York Times.

Engadget comments that the project sounds "a whole lot like a Sonos competitor."

For more on the story, check out the New York Times' coverage here, Evolver.fm's article here, or Engadget's report here.


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