One of the more surprising announcements to come out of Google's I/O 2012 conference was the unveiling of the Nexus Q, an experimental 'social streaming device' which is also the first fully-branded piece of Google hardware to be produced.

The simple spherical design of the Nexus Q speaks to its simple design purpose – the Android-powered computer acts as a designated bridge that allows users to stream music and videos wirelessly from their Android devices to a connected TV or audio system.

In terms of technical specs, the Nexus Q is an impressive little machine. Running Android 4.0 with 16GB of flash memory and 1GB of RAM, it also offers a full suite of input ports on the back, along with a built-in 25-watt amp.

Plug and play

Boasting a full set of banana jack speaker outputs and micro-HDMI output in addition to an optical audio port and Ethernet jack (all in addition to native Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC support), users will have a difficult time finding something they can't connect to their Nexus Q.

They may also have a difficult time finding room in their budget for the 'social streaming device'. At $299, the Nexus Q is $200 more than an Apple TV.

The Nexus Q will begin shipping in mid-July, and will only support Google Play and YouTube sharing at launch.