Feeds

Don't Panic! Google FCC filing reveals mystery media device

Nexus Q replacement, or something more Guide-y?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Google has filed paperwork with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a mysterious new media player device, leading to widespread speculation that a successor to the ill-fated Nexus Q may be forthcoming. But if that's true, what's with the Douglas Adams references?

The paperwork, published on the FCC's site on Friday, describes something cryptically called the "H840 Device," which the accompanying test report says "functions as a media player."

That seems logical enough. The Chocolate Factory has attempted a standalone media device before, in the form of the Nexus Q, an intriguing, spherical gadget that could stream music and movies from Google Play.

That has led many to assume the H840 must be Google's second attempt at such a device. But there are several reasons to suspect the H840 might be something quite different, too.

The most obvious is that the Nexus Q was a resounding bomb. Introduced at the Google I/O conference in June 2012, where some 6,000 developers were handed them for free, it was withdrawn just one month later, before the first batch of presale customers had even received their devices. We've heard not so much as a murmur of a successor ever since, and no one we know has been clamoring for one, either.

If that wasn't reason enough for skepticism, there's another oddity in Friday's FCC filing that should raise eyebrows even further. The device might be called the H840, but it's model number is completely different. Technically, it's the "Model H2G2-42."

We can only assume that designation is a reference both to Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise – which already has been immortalized at www.H2G2.com – and to the number 42, which Adams' books hailed as "the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything."

If so, however, what on earth any of that has to do with a device that lets you stream such vacuous schlock as Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon – a free online copy of which was given to every developer who received a Nexus Q – is anybody's guess.

There are a couple of possibilities. The first – and maybe the most likely – is that it's just a cute model number, and that the H840 really is nothing more than Google's next attempt to do a standalone media-streaming device properly.

There were certainly a number of things wrong with the original Nexus Q. First, its black plastic sphere had no external controls, meaning you needed a separate Android phone or tablet with a special app installed to do anything with it – and only devices running newer versions of Android would do.

Were you really going to shell out your hard-earned cash for a device that worked like this?

Second, it only supported Google Play out of the box, and not third-party streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus. And to make matters worse, although the Nexus Q was an Android device, it was purpose-built, with no way to install third-party apps or add-ons from the Google Play store.

The H840's FCC filing, naturally, doesn't address any of this, since the actual workings of the device remain shrouded in secrecy. But it does point out a couple of potential differences between the H840 and the Nexus Q.

For one, the filing says that the H840 supports 802.11b/g/n. So did the Nexus Q, but it also supported Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC), neither of which is specifically mentioned in the filing.

There was also a lot of hoo-hah about how the Nexus Q was manufactured in the US (even if its component parts weren't). The H840's documents, on the other hand, list its manufacturer as Singapore-based Flextronics.

Flextronics has previously been known for building Microsoft's Zune and Xbox lines, among other devices, which seems to lend some credibility to the idea that the H840 will be just another standalone media device.

What would be more intriguing, however, would be if the H2G2-42 designation was a hint, and that Google's new device will have far more to do with Adams' science fiction creations than did the Nexus Q – or has any other device, before or since.

Within the fictional universe of the Hitchhiker's Guide series, the eponymous guidebook was an electronic device described as "a wholly remarkable book" that had "already supplanted the Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom" – though, in true Wikipedia fashion, that "wisdom" often proved fairly dubious.

It's worth noting that Google already manages a sizeable collection of written media, in the form of Google Books and the book section of the Google Play store. It is possible that the online giant might be planning some kind of "media playing" device that ties more closely into these properties, to compete more closely with Amazon's Kindle line.

Only time will tell, of course. But if Google wants the H840 to sell, whatever it is, we advise its marketing department take a cue from that of the fictional Hitchhiker's Guide, which managed to make the book a bestseller by observing two core principles:

First, it's slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC printed in large friendly letters on its cover.

We leave it to Google to decide which of the two will prove more important. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins
More USB ports than your laptop? You'd better believe it...
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?