ASUS Nexus Player- An easier way to get started on Google Android TV
For those that have legacy TV's but want to take the full advantage of Android TV, Google offers an inexpensive Nexus Player through ASUS.
I purchased the Google Chromecast in LABI Yamada Denki, one of Japan's largest electronics retail store. Here are some pictures of the LABI store and their ASUS Nexus Player retail display area which was more informative than what you find in other retail stores outside Japan.
I opened the ASUS Nexus Player in Shin Yokohama's Freshness Burger, a common burger joint in Japan.
The ASUS Nexus Player packaging is basically a cheap white box with a printer wrapper around it.
Inside the box, the ASUS Nexus Player comes with a remote control (with batteries) and power adapter.
Starting up the ASUS Nexus Player back in my hotel on an older Panasonic TH-L26XHT, the setup menu's are pretty straightforward. The most annoying thing may be trying to type in the Wi-Fi password withouts a keyboard.
The rest of the Google Android TV installation process can be more easily continued on your Android phone. I switched to using the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge to connect the Phone to the TV and associate your Google account to the TV.
After setting up, you still will need to go through a lengthy Android update process.
After a while, the Android update process completes and you can start using the Nexus Player. Compared to the a full Android TV, the menu looks a lot simpler and more sparse. As with a smartphone, you can play your media immediately with Google Play or YouTube. Compared to using Chromecast, YouTube plays videos much quicker on the Nexus Player. Typing on your TV with a remote is slow and not very natural, but fortunately the Nexus Player comes with a voice activated remote- by pressing the button on top of the remote, you can use Google Voice to command and perform searches.
If you want to enjoy other content, you need to download other applications like Hulu, HBO, etc. through Google Play. Another interesting application of Google TV are games that can be played and enjoyed using your remote control or phone. A cool example of this is Just Dance Now, where you can hold your phone (just don't drop it!) while you are trying to mimic dance movies and score points if your phone's gyro sensors match the dance movies.
The ASUS Nexus Player also supports Chromecast but you need to play it by pressing the Chromecast button in an application like YouTube. If you try to use the Chromecast app to find the Asus Nexus Player, you may get a message like below.
Asus could have done a better job making the hardware less cheap feeling. The edges of the Nexus Player are sharp and the remote control feels and sounds like a cheap toy.
Still, the ASUS Nexus Player is a great way to get started with Android TV without having to go out and buy a new TV. It's also good for those that want to use Android TV on one HDMI input as a power user, and then let other users keep using the existing TV controls that they are comfortable with. The full features of an integrated Android TV can still take some getting used for someone only interested in watching TV. But with mobile becoming the device of choice for most people, Android TV is a nice way to expand Android's capabilities and make it more useful in the home.