NEWSTech

Google’s new Chromecast is ultra-cheap but cuts out support for 4K resolution

Chromecast with Google TV

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The rumors are true: Google launched a new, more affordable rendition of its Chromecast devices but it comes at the cost of a few features found in older models.

Dubbed the Chromecast with Google TV (HD), inklings of this new device cropped up recently with some reports speculating the company is expanding support of hardware to non-4K TVs. And sure enough, that’s what’s happening. This new HD Chromecast (opens in new tab) is essentially a toned-down version of the 2020 model which supports 4K HDR streaming and several Dolby video formats.  

On the surface, the new device looks identical to the older model as all the changes are internal.

Features

For $29.99, the HD Chromecast allows you stream content in 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) resolution at 60FPS. Support for 4K resolution is gone and so is Dolby Vision, a HDR (High Dynamic Range) format that allows for brighter colors and deeper blacks. The new device does support HDR10 and HDR10+ which aren’t as robust as Dolby Vision but still enhance visual fidelity. Memory also saw a downgrade as the HD Chromecast has 1.5GB of RAM compared to the 2GB of RAM found on the 4K version.

What’s not gone are the Dolby audio features (opens in new tab). Dolby Digital, Digital Plus, and the Atmos (opens in new tab) audio format are still present in the HD Chromecast. Dolby Digital and Digital Plus, for those unaware, are compression technologies that help the device produce high-quality audio without losing fidelity.  Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, is a format that replicates spatial sound for a more immersive experience. Atmos is present via HDMI pass-through so you’ll need the right equipment, like a soundbar that supports the format.

The HD Chromecast package is split across the dongle itself, which you can plug directly into a TV via the HDMI cable, and a remote. 

On that remote, you’ll find the same navigation circle present on the 4K model, as well as a few dedicated buttons for opening YouTube, Netflix, and accessing Google Assistant. The remote also comes with voice control for giving the Assistant a command. You can even, according to Google, check the video feed from a Nest Doorbell device via the HD Chromecast.

The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) (opens in new tab) is available for purchase right now from the company store, but only in Snow White. Australians will have to pay a little bit more, however. In Australia, the device costs $59 AUD which is about $40 USD. 

Renovating Google TV

The launch of the HD Chromecast comes at an interesting time as Google updates its Google TV service.  

Back in August 22, the company admitted its service didn’t have the best possible performance and has been trying to fix that ever since. A recent update brought improved storage management and a performance boost. The company states Google TV has over 10,000 apps on it.

There are also rumors floating around about Google TV getting an extra 50 channels of live TV with the need for an extra subscription. Considering how the HD Chromecast started off as a rumor and the newfound interest, the 50 channels could become a reality.

How well an HD-only Chromecast does in a market where 4K TVs are rapidly becoming the standard remains to be seen. For those looking for a streaming bargain, though, it might be just the ticket.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s review of the HD Chromecast’s older brother, the 4K HDR model from 2020 (We really liked it).

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