Android media players - a bag of hurt?
By Adam TURNER
Dumping Android on a tiny set-top box is far from lounge room nerdvana.
Nixeus' Fusion XS Android media player
Say what you will about Apple's oft-maligned Apple TV, but at least the boffins at Cupertino care about usability. If you're a glutton for punishment, try fighting with Android 2.2 on Kogan's Agora Smart TV box or Nixeus' Fusion XS. Interesting concept. Painful execution.
Of course this is the joy of Android. Google doesn't rule the ecosystem with an iron fist, so anyone can install Android on anything. Whether it's a good idea or not. Even if features are removed or crippled. Even if the user experience is like being stabbed slowly in the eye with a broken pencil. A pencil that's been dipped in lemon juice. And is on fire.
Don't mistake this for Android bashing, I'm quite fond of Android when it's well implemented. But considering how many slick media players are on the market, from a wide range of vendors, only the most determined Android fanboy would tolerate such a device in their lounge room. What's really interesting is that even Google's official lounge room gadget, the Android-powered Google TV, initially received mixed reviews along the lines of "an incomplete jumble of good ideas only half-realized".
Google TV stumbled last year but the online giant is trying again with Google TV 2.0 powered by Android 3.1 "Honeycomb", although it remains to be seen whether it makes it to Australia this year. While Honeycomb is a step in the right direction, Android is not the problem. The problem is that some vendors seem to think you can transplant Android into anything, with little concern as to whether the patient actually survives. If Google wants to get a foothold in the lounge room, interface developers need to get away from their desks and spend more time on the couch.
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