At its Launch Night In event today, Google officially unveiled Chromecast with Google TV. The new HDMI dongle is available starting today in the US for $ 50 (it comes to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK on October 15). That’s pretty cheap as it comes with its own remote control and special user interface. The latter is so important to Google that the company includes it in the product name. “Think of Google TV as your personal entertainment content curator,” said Shalini Govil-Pai, general manager of Google TV. “We will bring the Google TV experience to many more streaming devices in the Android TV ecosystem. Today, Google TV makes its debut in the all-new Chromecast. “
Like all Google products announced today, Chromecast has been leaking with Google TV for months. The real news here is confirmation that Google is giving Android TV one more try by bringing back Google TV. (Android TV was launched in June 2014, making it an even earlier smart TV initiative from October 2010 called Google TV. Yes, Google is being renamed as often and as badly as Microsoft.) Android TV will continue to exist as Google TV is an additional interface is running above.
The smart TV space is largely dominated globally by Tizen and webOS, with Roku and Amazon Fire TV winning over US consumers. While Google had plenty of early success with its cheap Chromecast TV dongle (55 million sold from 2013-2016), consumers didn’t switch to Android TV when they upgraded their TV experience. Google hopes to revive its ambitions for smart TV with the successful Chromecast.
This is Google’s latest attempt to claim the biggest screen in your home as the streaming wars deepen, the battle to stream the game ignites, and the pandemic spills fuel on both. Google Home’s smart speakers (slowly being renamed under the Google Nest name) are already in millions of homes, but we’re visual creatures, and screens are still the golden goose.
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Software and hardware
Again, Google is highlighting the software for this Chromecast as it actually has a user interface. In previous Chromecasts, you could only cast what you already streamed on your phone or PC – a simplicity that was critical to success but ultimately resulted in users looking for a replacement.
Even so, today Govil-Pai highlighted what exactly you can do with Google TV. You can search for content, but the main Google TV homepage will also display titles that have been pulled from all of your streaming services like Netflix, Disney +, HBO Max, Peacock, France.tv, Rakuten, Viki, and YouTube. (It also shows options from other channels that you don’t have to find out what you’re missing out on). Much of the interface is devoted to suggestions for movies and TV shows that Google might want to see.
Hardware is also keeping pace with this paradigm shift. If users do more than just casting, unlike its predecessors, Google made sure that Chromecast comes with Google TV with its own remote control. The remote control has a directional pad and special buttons for Google Assistant, YouTube and Netflix. It also has programmable TV controls for power, volume, and input so you can only use the one remote control for your TV (possibly).
Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K HDR at up to 60 frames per second. It works with multiple Google accounts, as well as bluetooth devices and USB-to-ethernet adapters.
Finally, the price tag further confirms that Google is again aggressively pursuing the space. At $ 50, Chromecast with Google TV costs $ 20 less than the Chromecast Ultra.
So far in 2020, numerous game streaming services of some kind have been launched, including Microsoft xCloud, Nvidia GeForce Now and, since last week, Amazon Luna. Google launched Stadia in November 2019, but the response has been lukewarm at best.
So it’s surprising that Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t support Stadia at launch (support will come sometime in the first half of 2021). At today’s event, Google reserved all Stadia calls for the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G areas.
Chances are, Google will approach Stadia for the new Chromecast when the company has it ready for your TV. A Chromecast with Stadia package (including the Stadia Controller) may be in the works.