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Three things Google must do to fix the Nexus Q

These are the glaring problems in the current iteration of the Nexus Q. Here's what we'd do to "make it even better."

Google is trying again with its Nexus Q streaming device. Sarah Tew/CNET

As you've likely heard by now, Google has decided to postpone the release of its Android-based media streamer, the Nexus Q.

Citing a desire to "make it even better," Google promised to redesign the device in one capacity or another. As to whether it will be a hardware change or a simple software update remains unclear at this point, but the Nexus Q we know today will become a thing of the past. But what lies ahead? I've come up with a few ideas as to what Google must do if it ever wants the Nexus Q to be taken seriously.

Let's just get this one out of the way, shall we? To ask consumers to spend $300 on the Nexus Q is just absurd; it's an accessory that will cost more than a smartphone and even the Nexus 7 tablet. I'd wager that most buyers are educated enough to know that there's more to be had at a lower price.

I've seen arguments that Google shouldn't be asking for more than $50 or $100 for the Nexus Q in its current state, but I think that's a little too low. Factoring in everything that the device could be, I would say Google could get away with charging no higher than $150 with the current features. Of course, that assumes that Google will make the necessary software updates. Assuming things remain largely unchanged for the future model, the price still has to come way down.

I might take a little heat from my fellow Android fans, but I don't like the idea that the Nexus Q only works with Android devices. Even worse, the fact that one must have 2.3 or later leaves more than 20 percent of today's Android users off the table. That's why I hope to see support for iOS and Windows Phone. Even though the experience ties to Google Play accounts, there are plenty of people who would love to share YouTube and Google Play Music in a gathering or party. Open things up a bit, Google, because not everybody has an Android device...yet.

As much as I like the idea of sharing all the music from my Google Play Music account, the fact remains that not all of my media is in the cloud. I hate to shock you, but I still have music stored on devices and microSD cards and it shouldn't be a hassle to queue it up to my tablet and stream it. The same goes for videos that I have recorded on my mobile devices. I see no reason why I can't share that clip of my son's karate practice on the TV when friends are over. If I leave the house, then sure, remove it from the queue and skip on to the next one.

I'd love to see Chrome loaded onto the Nexus Q as it would turn my TV or monitor into a great, big browser. Maybe I'm reaching here, but I'd like to see an app that turns my tablet into a full-screen keyboard and/or mouse for browsing the Internet. Even if Google doesn't decide to go with a full-on Google TV experience, a browser opens the door to additional content.

Ask just about anyone who follows Android closely what they'd like to see for the Nexus Q and Google Play access invariably comes up. Seeing as how the orb runs Android 4.0 and has plenty of internal power, users should be able to run at least some apps. With a phone or tablet acting as a controller, it doesn't seem impossible that it could be a fun gaming experience. Google could even clamp down a bit and only offer access to apps that are available to Google TV users. In that case, we could see the Nexus Q open the door to Pandora, Netflix, HBO GO, and content from media partners.

Let's assume, for a moment, that Google tweaks the hardware a bit for the Nexus Q. What can be done here that doesn't detract from its stylish design and compact size? Not a great deal, mind you, but a little bit goes a long way.

For starters, I'd welcome the addition of a 3.5mm input or output. This goes back to the point of sharing content that's locally stored. Why bother streaming my music collection from the phone if I can plug it in directly and play it on the stereo or TV? Something as simple as an auxiliary output would see me moving my Nexus Q from the living room to the office, where I would plug it into my Sonos device.

Given that more Android devices are beginning to offer USB host support, it would be nice to see this come to the Nexus Q. Were that to be the case then we could plug in our keyboard, cameras, and other peripherals for a more robust experience. Think of how cool it would be to do Google Hangouts from your couch.

Finding a way to squeeze HDMI-input into the Nexus Q might prove to be easier said than done, especially if Google wants to maintain the form factor. That said, this would be a great way to ease into a Google TV experience. If I'm to have this on my TV stand in a permanent manner, then I ought to be able to run my DVR through it and do the whole dual-screen thing.

Indeed, there's a little Monday-morning quarterback in each of us and we all have ideas about how we'd do things differently. And, while it's too premature to call the Nexus Q an outright failure, there's plenty of work ahead for Google. When everything is said and done, I'd hope to see a software update that turns the existing hardware into something more feature-rich. As much as I might like it, the device doesn't need any additional hardware at this point.

What would you do to fix the Nexus Q if you were in charge? Is it something as simple as dropping the price to $100 and eating all the up-front costs? Agree with the stuff you see above or am I off base? I welcome your comments and suggestions below.

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