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A cheaper 1080p Chromecast with Google TV just makes sense

Over the past few days, rumors have begun to swirl that Google intends to launch a new version of its Chromecast with Google TV streaming media dongle. And according to a report from Protocol, which cites “a source with close knowledge of the company’s plans,” this new model will be aimed at folks who don’t need or want 4K resolution, which would make it a more affordable, 1080p (Full HD) device.

Given that Google’s main competitors in the streaming device space — Amazon and Roku — both sell inexpensive 1080p models, it makes a lot of sense that Google would want to make a product for these same buyers. As Protocol notes, a cheaper Chromecast with Google TV would also help the company penetrate emerging markets where people simply don’t have as much money to spend on gadgets, like India.

Specifications

Google still sells a 1080p version of its original Chromecast dongle for $30, but that device isn’t based on the newer Google TV software and doesn’t ship with its own remote. Given that this Chromecast is now more than three years old, it would make sense to retire it in favor of a similarly-priced Google TV-powered unit.

Protocol suggests that the new device would be capable of 1080p at up to 60Hz, and will contain an Amlogic S805X2 CPU, which would give it the ability to decode the AV1 codec. For most of us, codec support doesn’t really make much of a difference, but companies like Google and Netflix are keen to see streaming devices adopt AV1 because it can reduce bandwidth requirements by as much as 40% without impacting video or audio quality.

This spec seems likely, especially as there are already AV1-capable 1080p Android TV streamers that use the Amlogic S805X2 CPU. And while AV1 compatibility might be top of mind for Google, the S805X2’s support for HDR formats like HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG will be key: Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Lite offers HDR support too.

Pricing

Amazon’s base Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick Lite, sells for $30 when it’s not on sale (but Amazon often sells it for as low as $20), which is the same price as the Roku Express, Roku’s entry-level streamer. We expect that if Google does indeed release a 1080p version of the Chromecast with Google TV, it would need to sell for the same price.

The Fire TV Stick Lite comes with a voice-capable remote, so a $30 Chromecast with Google TV would provide buyers with a new voice-based option. The Roku Express ships with a non-voice infrared remote.

Availability

Google hosts two major events every year: Its I/O developer conference in the spring (usually in May) and a hardware-focused event in the fall. The company announced the current Chromecast with Google TV in September 2020, but we don’t think it will wait for September 2022 to launch its 1080p version — look for it to appear at I/O 2022, or possibly even earlier.

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