Google working on another set-top box device?

On the heels of the Web giant's debut of Chromecast, rumors are floating that Google gave private demos of another Web-to-TV media player during CES that had even more features.

The Google Nexus Q, a media-streaming orb that was never offered for sale. Sarah Tew/CNET

Months before Google unveiled its new Chromecast media hub, the company was privately showing around another type of Internet-to-television streaming device, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that during this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, former Google executive Andy Rubin gave demonstrations of an Android-powered set-top box. This device was integrated with Google Hangouts and also had a video camera and motion sensor.

Apparently, the prototype digital-media hub had a wide array of features. In Rubin's demonstrations, he reportedly said the device could stream YouTube videos, as well as movies and TV shows from Google Play. The device could also access Android apps and other streaming services such as Netflix and Pandora.

Google unveiled Chromecast on Tuesday. It's the company's latest foray into television and comes in the form of a $35 stick that plugs into a television's HDMI input. Once connected, Chromecast lets a wide swath of smartphones, tablets, and other devices using the Chrome browser "cast" what they're playing onto the TV.

Chromecast isn't Google's first attempt at a Web-to-TV product. Last year, the company unveiled a Web-connected media-playing console, dubbed the Nexus Q , but it never sold it to the public. Google also released Google TV software in 2010, but the platform was handicapped by complexity, slow response times, and difficult operation.

Other major tech companies have also jumped into the media hub world. Apple, Amazon, and Intel have all debuted set-top box devices that combine TV with the Internet. There are also smaller, but successful, companies like Roku that have set-top boxes.

While there are rumors about this other media device from Google, it's unclear if the company is currently working on a new product. It's possible that Google simply decided to launch Chromecast instead of this alleged set-top box device.

CNET contacted Google for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

 

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