in depth: Chromecast 4K release date, news and rumors


We love Google’s Chromecast, the minimalistic puck that plugs into the back of your TV and allows you to stream content from your phone or tablet.

Smart devices, as it turns out, offer a pretty great interface for searching or browsing content. Plus, they offer easy access to an on-screen keyboard, and their app interfaces are fast and responsive. The same can’t always be said for every TV’s operating system, if they even have one at all.

What Chromecast manages to achieve is combining this easy-to-use interface with a big-screen TV in a reliably quick and convenient way.

There’s just one problem, and that’s resolution.

Chromecast

Yes, while Amazon and Roku have been embracing 4K with the Amazon Fire TV and Roku 4, Google’s Chromecast has remained trapped in the land of 1080p.

But there’s a good chance that’s all about to change. Google has a major press event on October 4, and reports have begun to leak out about the ol’ Mountain View team bringing Chromecast into the world of 3,840 x 2,160 Ultra HD resolution.

So when will we finally get to see a 4K-equipped Chromecast, and when will it be released? Read on to find out.

4K Chromecast release date

We haven’t had a firm announcement from Google that the company is even working on a 4K Chromecast, but the fact that the entire industry (including Google’s streaming competitors) is moving towards the new resolution means that Google would be crazy to rest on its laurels.

Recently, rumors surfaced that the company is planning to unveil a 4K Chromecast on October 4, alongside a new lineup of Pixel phones.

Chromecast 4K

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings about Google embracing UHD, but the recent well-spring of affordable 4K TV sets could be the compelling argument the company’s been waiting for to pull the trigger.

If that turns out to be the case, we’d expect to see it announced at the firm’s upcoming October press event with potentially same-week availability. The last time Google announced a refresh of the Chromecast hardware, it was less than a week before we had one in our own home.

4K Chromecast price

Google has always prided itself on the low cost of its Chromecast devices, which currently retail for $30 / £30 / AU$59 for the video version and $35 / £20 / AU$59 for the audio version.

We wouldn’t expect the new Chromecast to much exceed these existing prices, but with no official announcement from Google you should take our prediction with a pinch of salt.

But here’s our reasoning: video streaming boxes are so expensive because they handle all the processing on-board – they render the graphics, they take in the information from the online content and they have to output the result to your TV. It’s a labor-intensive process. Plus they need an OS just hanging out in the background, waiting for you to press the home button so it can pop up like a waiter at a fine dining restaurant.

Chromecast 4K

Chromecast has always beaten its competition by limiting the number of components inside the box. It’s not ever really responsible for rendering graphics – it’s just taking a signal from your smart device and passing it on to your TV. It doesn’t use an OS, so there’s no need for a massive storage cache. What that means is that Google doesn’t need to load up Chromecast 4K with tons of hardware – just a really good Wi-Fi antenna capable of passing more than 15mbps and the right codecs for 4K video.

Does that mean it will cost a bit more than the original Chromecast? Probably. But does that also mean it should cast significantly less than the Amazon Fire TV and Roku 4? Absolutely.

Conclusion: Is a 4K Chromecast just around the corner?

Given Google’s competitors have been moving in the direction of 4K for around a year now, it makes sense for the search giant to follow suit, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw new Chromecast hardware in the first half of next year, if not sooner.

The only problem is that enabling 4K functionality would likely require each Chromecast-enabled app developer to update their software to support the new resolution, which will inevitably take some time.

But regardless of whether the new hardware gets announced on October 4 or not, we’re certain a 4K Chromecast is going to make an appearance at some point.

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