Today was a big day for Google, as it announced new Nexus devices, a new tablet, and new Chromecast devices (yes, that’s plural!). There are two Chromecast devices now, one meant for TV, and one meant for speakers, dubbed Chromecast Audio. Let’s take a look at each!
First up is the refresh device to the ever popular Chromecast. The original sold over 20 million units worldwide. However, some of the technology in the original Chromecast was outdated, so this new one has some new specs to keep you stream-happy for awhile. So, to help current Chromecast owners make a decision, we’re going to break down the specs of each.
|Chromecast (New)||Chromecast (1st gen)|
|Dimensions||51.9 x 51.9 x 13.49 mm||72 x 35 x 12 mm|
|Weight||39.1 g||34 g|
|Color||Black, Coral, Lemonade||Black|
|Wireless Standards||802.11c Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz)||802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)|
The new Chromecast comes with a refreshed, modern design, making it look more like a small hockey puck rather than a dongle. However, there are also two new colors with the new Chromecast: Coral and Lemonade (both available exclusively through the Google Store). Probably the biggest differences lie in the wireless standards and the software (below). The new Chromecast will now work with 5Ghz connections, whereas the 1st gen only worked with 2.4GHz. This will help buffer things more quickly, resulting in less lag overall.
The new Chromecast will have a slew of software enhancements that will make the Chromecast experience quicker, smoother, and easier to navigate. How much of this will carry over to the 1st gen is unclear; however it seems its mostly enabled through the Chromecast app, so keep an eye out for an update (I had one when I checked).
There are already 200,000 TV shows and movies available for streaming on the Chromecast. However, Showtime is bringing all of their content in the coming weeks, and Spotify will soon be available as well. Sling TV will also be available on the new Chromecast. There will be other new services coming, along with major sports leagues such as the NBA and NHL. So stay tuned for updates on those.
Content discovery in the new app shows things based on the apps you have installed and displays a simple view of your cast enabled apps. This will also help you search across all Cast-enabled apps for specific content, so searching for “House of Cards” will bring up the TV show, and the apps that its available for viewing in (in this case, Netflix). The new app will allow for easier discovery of Chromecast-ready apps as well.
Fast Play will be available for all content developers, so that when you select to play content, it will do so much more quickly.
Backdrop now has support for 500px, Facebook, Flickr, and Getty Images, allowing for even more pictures to be displayed on your TV when you’re not casting.
Along with the above improvements comes a new Chromecast capability – the ability to play complex multiplayer games. Multiplayer games were available in limited scope before but now will allow for content to display on the TV as well as on your phone. Your phone will act as the controller and will sometimes even show whats on the screen on your phone, sort of like a Wii U controller, but for multiple people. Access to each person’s accelerometer, compass, and more will allow for dynamic gameplay. Google seems keen that this will change the face of gaming.
Along with the updated Chromecast came the announcement of the Chromecast Audio. The Chromecast Audio is much like the regular Chromecast, except for your speakers. It aims to turn the speakers you already own into cast-ready devices. So instead of connecting your phone with a cable, you can instead connect the Chromecast Audio, and stream music from a slew of cast-ready apps from your phone.
The Chromecast Audio works with 3.5mm auxiliary cables, RCA, and even Optical connections. So, this will allow you to turn your “dumb” speaker into a “smart” speaker.
Also like the regular Chromecast, the Chromecast Audio will allow you to perform regular functions on your phone without interrupting the stream of music. So, answering phone calls, surfing the web, and more is no problem while using the Chromecast Audio.
Probably the only thing remiss from the Chromecast Audio is a rechargeable battery. It seems it must be plugged in to a power supply for it to work.
Other than that, both the new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio are available for only $35 starting today from the Google Store and other outlets.
Source: Chromecast – Google