Probably one of the hottest devices here at the ASUS showcase this year is the ASUS Qube with Google TV, it’s one of the first devices to be running the latest Google TV platform which brings support for a number of new features. Paired with ASUS customization and a brand new remote with a microphone, full QWERTY keyboard and gyroscope make this a must have for any college student!
The Qube is a small device that sits by your TV and connects via HDMI to turn any display in to a smart Android powered TV. It has an HDMI in which allows you to connect your cable or satellite box so it can be controlled and viewed through the device. The latest version of Google TV brings a new Voice Search feature which allows you to just say the name of the show or movie you want to see and go straight to it or do a web search, the Qube has access to a few different sources of content including Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix (which can be launched with a dedicated button on the remote). If the show is actually on-air at that time the Qube will take you right to the channel where it’s playing! There’s also a new feature called Primetime which will bring up information on your favorite shows and movies and recommend others you might like as well all with options to start watching them right away.
As a Google TV device you have access to Chrome on the Qube which means you can view streaming video online as well as just browse the web for information on your favorite shows and more. The picture in picture function is great for if you want to check out an article on CampusLife during a commercial break but make sure you don’t miss a beat when the show is back. You also have access to the catalog of Google TV optimized apps on the Google Play store like HBOGo, Crackle, and Pandora. Something notable that ASUS is including with the device is support for ASUS WebStorage, they’re including 50gb of storage for you to store all your personal media in the cloud, this storage can be accessed not only through your TV but also your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
The physical design takes the cube metaphor literally but it looks very tasteful, when you have friends over to visit they’ll definitely be asking about it. It is very minimalist looking around the front and sides but when you look around back you have a variety of connectivity options including HDMI in for your cable or satellite signal, HDMI out to connect to the TV, two USB ports for connecting storage devices, and an IR out to connect an IR blaster which will allow the device to control other parts of your media center set up. The user interface is interesting as it follows along the same metaphor with a 3D cube that rotates around for you to get to all of your content. It’s a nice looking effect which helps make your room feel just a little bit more high tech. The Qube’s customizability options allow you to put shortcuts to all your favorite content on the different sides of the cube which means you can really make it your own. I know I would probably put shortcuts to some of my favorite YouTube channels and or TV show communities on Reddit.
The control options are some of the best things about the Qube because with all that functionality it would be difficult to control with a normal TV style remote which is where a lot of the existing smart TV solutions fall short. The included remote control not only has your normal navigation buttons but also a touchpad which has two modes, one with quick swiping gestures to navigate through menus and one which will give you a normal mouse cursor on the screen; the two modes can be toggled with a small button the side. Right underneath that button you’ll also find a microphone button (there’s another one on the front) which will launch up the voice search which operates off a microphone on the bottom of the remote. When you flip the remote around to the back you’ll find a full QWERTY keyboard for typing in search or in your favorite apps. Another great control option though is the Google TV app on your Android device, you’ll have all the same features as the remote on your Android tablet or smartphone. One more really cool feature is when you’re logged in to the YouTube app on your Android device you can play videos straight to your Qube just by pressing a button in the top right corner.
The remote for the device includes a gyroscope which is used for games, in our demo we got to see Raging Thunder 2 playing and it worked pretty well, it was really cool to see one of my favorite Android games pushed up to the big screen like that. You could be playing the game during commercials and have your picture in picture up to jump right back to your show whenever you want. More information on game availability will be coming when it’s closer to release.
The Qube is shaping up to be a great device for any college student whether you live in the dorms, an apartment, or back home with your parents. It’s an easy and affordable way to bring your existing TV in to the future with access to all your multimedia content through different streaming services or through ASUS’s own WebStorage. I could personally see using this device a lot while watching college sports to pull up stats during games or have scores from other games up at the same time. Pricing and availability aren’t final yet but we’ll definitely be seeing the Qube soon. Keep an eye on CampusLife and we’ll get you more information as soon as it’s available.
Aiman Farooq is a Media and Information Technology student at Michigan State University.
If you have any questions or comments please shoot me a tweet at @AimanFarooq