Google’s Chromecast with Google TV HD is officially available today

In a strange move, Google has formally announced the new Chromecast with Google TV HD and made it widely available today. Coming in at $29.99, this new Chromecast with Google TV is more affordable than the existing Chromecast and does a few things differently than its predecessor. Overall, the story goes down the price for this device, and $29.99 is a good one to start with. However, in the end, I’m still a little surprised by this release.

Let’s get the facts out of the way first. This new HD Chromecast outputs a 1080p signal compared to the previous (and still available) Chromecast, along with Google TV’s 4K output. It has slightly less RAM at 1.5GB versus the original 2GB and storage remains the same at 8GB. And the processor is also slightly less capable than the 4K model. It’s a long list of downgrades, and as I’m writing this, you can get the first-gen version for $40-$50 at many retailers.

It’s easy to dismiss this new version of Google’s Chromecast pretty quickly if you just look at the specific sheet, but I’m still hoping it will be suitable for some people for some reason. there are upgrade With the device that needs to be considered, let’s talk about them before dismissing this slightly bugged Chromecast.

new os version 12

from the beginning, This new Chromecast is running Android/Google TV 12 out of the box. We’ll have our unit later today, but I doubt it will mean any significant difference in look or UI. This could mean better performance and a smoother experience across the board. Not sure yet, but the current Chromecast with Google TV is running Google TV 10, so this version is a full 2 ​​years ahead of what we currently have on offer.

better update capability

While the performance should be better – even with a lower capacity processor and slightly less RAM – One part of Google TV 12 that is undeniably better is the update process. With this version of the OS, Google can update it via a storage partition instead of relying on user-facing storage, and this means that this Chromecast will indeed be able to receive major OS updates in the future, Unlike the current 4K Chromecast which is still stuck on Android 10.

AV1 decoding

Although a little less powerful, the new processor in Chromecast with Google TV HD has a trick the core can’t claim to have: AV1 decoding. AV1 is a newer codec that is more efficient with high-quality video streaming than the existing H.264 standard that relies on the native Chromecast. As an example, YouTube has been pushing for this codec to be natively controlled by hardware partners of late, so it looks like AV1 may become the standard down the road.

low resolution, high speed

In the end, it may not be a feature, but This would undoubtedly be contrary to Google’s decision to stick with the HD version of the Chromecast. No matter how you cut it, 4K is inherently more stressful on the processor than standard HD. We see this all the time with Chromebooks: When the screen resolution goes up, the performance goes down. It’s simple math and when you force the CPU to push more pixels around, every single task becomes more intensive.

With the lower resolution, the new Chromecast will have far less overhead to manage with both the UI and video playback. And with many consumers still waiting to jump to 4K or not as concerned about high-resolution as possible, 1080p may be enough for many of them, at least in the next few years.

Still, the move to launch an affordable Chromecast with Google TV option a full 2 ​​years after the original is strange. Had the two launched closer together, I would have got it. But at the end of 2022, I think we are at the point where this device should launch with an updated 4K Chromecast with more memory, better CPU and more RAM. Without that option, the lineup seems very different to me, and it doesn’t make sense until the sale price (that we know of) sees this Chromecast with Google TV HD hitting sub-$20 price points. Will not done.

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