Google has unveiled a new 'Chromecast Ultra' that supports 4K UHD and both HDR (High Dynamic Range) formats; HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will be available in November for $69.
The rumor mill had made most details known beforehand but today Google went on stage to unveil a range of new products, including a third-generation Chromecast dongle.
Google started off by saying that it has sold more than 30 million to date. While the two first versions of Chromecast have had support for up to 1080p HD resolution, the new version supports up to 4K Ultra HD, which has four times as many pixels as 1080p. This should deliver a significantly better picture experience, especially if you own a large TV. It obviously requires an Ultra HD TV and streaming content in native 4K.
In addition, the new Chromecast supports HDR, short for "High Dynamic Range". This is not an even higher resolution but instead an expanded dynamic range, from bright white to pure black, as well as an expanded color space that covers more colors than traditional TVs can reproduce. Again; to enjoy these benefits you obviously need a HDR TV and native HDR content.
HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Perhaps surprisingly the new Chromecast will support both relevant HDR formats; the open HDR10 format and the premium Dolby Vision format. The former is supported by all HDR TVs today while the latter is only supported on TVs from LG, Vizio and Loewe.
Today, only a handful streaming services offer movies and TV series in 4K and HDR quality. Netflix and YouTube were some of the first to offer it, followed by Amazon. Amazon on the other hand was first to introduce HDR streaming. However, Amazon has yet to be supported on any TV product from Google, including Chromecast, and today’s event did nothing to change that fact.
Other services available in 4K on the new ‘Chromecast Ultra’ include Vudu and starting from November also Google Play Movies. At the event, Google was low on details but confirmed that it will be possible to buy and rent movies in 4K quality one month from now.
Google said that the new Chromecast is ”1.8x faster to load content” and that it has an Ethernet port built into the power adaptor. with the new Google Home product you can push videos to your TV via Chromecast by speaking commands such as "Ok, Google, play the Jungle Book trailer on my TV".
Chromecast Ultra will be available in November for $69 - twice the price of the old Chromecast.
First hint came in spring
The Chromecast dongle is powered the Google Cast technology. This technology is also built into all Android TV devices, including TVs from Sony, Philips and Sharp as well as media streamers such as Nvidia Shield and Nexus Player.
Although the new Chromecast Ultra was officially announced today, the underlying Google Cast technology has actually supported Ultra HD and HDR since spring of 2016. In March 2016, Vizio launched the first Google Cast-enabled TV that ditched apps, tuners, and the TV UI.
Google clearly has greater ambitions for the cast platform. Since Vizio launched its TV, other manufacturers have followed suit. With Google Cast being integrated directly into TVs, the Chromecast dongle could one day become redundant, which has probably been Google’s plan all along.
Chromecast Ultra specificataions
up to 4K Ultra HD
HDR: HDR10 and Dolby Vision
802.11ac WiFi – 2.4/5 GHz - SIMO
Ethernet port in power adaptor
Micro-USB for power
Included: 2m power cable, power adaptor
Lenght: 58.20 mm, width: 13.70 mm, heigh: 58.20 mm