Google's third attempt at TV is not only it's cheapest and most simple but probably it's best yet. An HDMI (and USB, depending on your TV) dongle that plugs into your TV allows you to play videos from YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and anything in a Chrome browser from any mobile device or computer. Sounds great if it came out 3 years ago. But better late than never. Finally Android users can stop hearing about how awesome Airplay is from annoying Apple fans. Sure Google TV had a similar capability but who owns a Google TV? Apple's users have been able to send video from iPhone/iPads and more recently mirror their computer screens to an Apple TV for a while now. With that said, Apple TV's aren't exactly flying off the shelves themselves. Sure they've sold a little over 5 million in the past year but compared to the 125 million iPhones they've sold in a year it's peanuts. Google may find a similar hurdle. However at $35 and cross platform compatibility, Chromecast is almost an offer you can't refuse. And it even comes with a 3 month free subscription of Netflix, even extends to existing customers. (That brings the price to about $11)
You can't really compare the Chromecast to any of the other more expensive set top boxes. It doesn't come close to fixing most people's problem with TV and to be fair it's not really trying to. In a nut shell it's a cheap and easy way to get the web on your TV. Some people will love the idea, most will probably wait for a better solution with more content. At best Chomecast offers users of any mobile device a cheap way to send Youtube videos to their TV. At worst it takes one of the most appealing features of Apple TV and takes it half way.
While Android users, particularly Nexus device owners, will have to probably wait until the fall for the next version of Android (Key Lime Pie 5.0), Google released a few new features yesterday in small update. Continuing with the Jelly Bean moniker, 4.3 was announced which adds profile restrictions for kids, Bluetooth Low Energy, and OpenGL ES 3.0 support. Which will be a boon for Android game developers. Not bad for a point update but still begs the question, why is Google hanging on to Jelly Bean so long? Previous to Jelly Bean 4.0 it seemed like Google was releasing major updates twice a year. Sure a lot of was ironing out issues, finding a design language to stay with and adding needed features. But it appears Google is trying to give users time to catch up and get as many people on 4.0 as possible before making every flagship phone that isn't an Nexus, obsolete when 5.0 comes out.
The Nexus 7 was also announced yesterday with a high-density 1920 X 1200 7inch screen for $229. It's nearly as thin as an iPad Mini and for that price, it's almost hard to tell anyone that doesn't already own an iOS device to buy an iPad right now. Sure there is still somewhat of a tablet app problem on Android but nowhere near where it was this time last year. Things are getting better, and developers are making more tablet specific apps. Apple still has a slight edge but if you're a first time tablet buyer you can't go wrong with picking up the new Nexus 7. This also begs the question, what the hell is holding up the iPad Mini Retina? The Nexus 7 has a "retina" screen, it's nearly as thin as an iPad Mini and estimated to have 9 hours of battery life. The jury is still out on how well performance is on this new Nexus pushing all of those pixels but we should know within a weeks time. Being that whenever the iPad Mini Retina is announced, the resolution will likely be 2048 X 1536, which would be a higher resolution and nearly the same PPI (323 vs. 324) as the Nexus 7. If rumors are true and Apple won't release the iPad Mini Retina until 2014, the Nexus 7 could be this Christmas hottest tablet.