|Pros:||Amount of apps, Mobile as remote|
|Cons:||Clunky UI, Technical setup|
|Review Date:||August, 2016|
|Check price on Amazon.com|
When I was offered a chance to review the NextD Player, I jumped at the chance. To be completely honest, I had never heard of them when I made my list of top streaming players. What NextD claims on their website for their Android-powered TV box is something pretty spectacular. They offer a motion sensing ability, multiple app store connectivity (Google Play and Amazon), and the capability to use your smartphone as a full-fledged remote.
Once it was delivered in 2 days via my Amazon Prime membership, I was off to the races to get it setup and running.
The installation of the NextD device into my TV was very simple. I hooked up the power and HDMI cords and immediately the NextD setup interface popped up on my TV screen. It asked me to immediately connect to my wifi, which, as I learned, was an enormous challenge because I forgot my password.
So, I kept trying the password I thought it was, and the NextD setup screen just kept "spinning". It didn't tell me my password was incorrect, and I kept re-typing it in thinking I mistyped it. Over and over. 4 times.
After getting quite frustrated with myself, I habitually hit the "home" button on the setup remote they provided, which brought me to the home screen of the NextTV interface. Sounds great, however, I couldn't get anything to work because I still had no internet. After some poking around their interface, I found an icon called "Settings" that had a Wifi menu option. After my wife told me the correct password (ugh!), the wifi was finally able to connect instantly.
Editor's Note: This wifi connection problem was entirely my fault, but the NextD system didn't exactly help me either. I was typing the incorrect password - and they should have told me this. To make matters worse, the fact that it let me go "home" without first connecting to the internet was a mistake. I can see that if someone was not as techie as myself, they would have gotten very confused.
Before playing around with the rest of their very standard Android-esque interface (there is a lot there), I immediately installed Hulu as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were already installed.
However, my wife and I disagreed on how to install new apps. Since we had both already connected our phones to NextD device and were duel-navigating to items, things got a little confusing...
Me: "Go here."
Her: "No! Go Here!"
I first went to their "App Picks" icon, but found that it wasn't anything more than a link to their Google+ webpage which listed a couple apps to download, broken down by category. I eventually realized that it simply would have been better to go directly into the Google Play app store to search for and download the apps directly... which we ultimately did.
Editor's Note: I know what they were trying to do with their Google+ page, and they were correct in the idea - but their list of "popular" streaming apps were anything but the most popular.
My wife and I sat down and decided to watch 3 episodes of HGTV's Fixer Upper to test this NextD out.
We opened the Netflix app, navigated to our playlist and bam! It played it... very well I might add. NextD initially buffered the show by showing less-than-HD-quality video (probably to make good on its promise of zero-latency), but this only lasted about 5 seconds before the rest of the show was in full-and-beautiful HD. All three shows (and the many since then) have all streamed perfectly fine. There have been no issues to report after about a week of using it exclusively in place of our Roku 3.
The one downside to the NextD Player is that their user interface (UI) does not seem to be fully matured yet. It has a more smartphone or desktop feel to it (it has a mouse pointer on the screen) rather than a typical tv interface. Yes, everything they tout is possible on it, but some functions are not as easy as they should be. Take for instance:
Roku comes with all the major (and not-so-major) streaming apps installed. The NextD required me to download a popular one immediately.
The Roku has icons — just like the NextD does, but the Roku's main function of the home screen is to get you into one of those apps as soon as possible. The NextD has a lot of other items that in my honest opinion could be hidden from the normal viewers. Things like Settings, Home, Back, Amazon App Store, Browser, etc. should all be hidden by default. If the primary focus of the NextD Player is to be a streaming device, then it needs to make those functions primary and everything else secondary.
I also felt that portions of their UI relied a little too heavily on "point-and-click" mouse movements (via your finger on their smartphone app) instead of the simple Up-Down, Left-Right movements seen on more traditional TV remotes. The NextD smartphone app does have this directional capability as well, but something about having to use your phone as the remote was slightly annoying. Their UI was most challenging when attempting to select the username and password fields (think login screens for Netflix) in order to start typing. The one positive of using your phone as the remote was that I had full access to my phone's keyboard. This was MUCH simpler than the standard up-down-left-right remote controls (I'm looking at your Roku).
The NextD Player Android TV Box definitely delivered on everything it promised. It played top quality HD shows from all the major services (Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime). It connected directly to multiple phones and tablets via their remote apps (iOS and Android), which completely removed the need for a physical remote.
The kids have since played a handful of games on it, which all seemed to run perfectly fine. The games I saw had great graphics and no lagging. I didn't try to install dozens of apps, but the few I did try seemed to work very well.
Overall, the NextD might be a little too techie for the users that just want to stream videos and nothing else. However, if you are a tech-savvy person or if you are looking for a full-featured device that allows you to browse the web, play games AND stream videos, the NextD Player might be the perfect device for your home setup.