Google Chromecast Product Line - Updated With Chromecast Ultra

Chromecast For TV and Speakers - And Also Introducing Chromecast Ultra

Google Chromecast For TV
Google Chromecast For TV. Image provided by Google

Following up the recent introduction of Apple's 4th Generation Apple TV and Amazon's 2nd Generation Fire TV media streamer product lines, Google has decided it was time to take the lid off its 2nd Generation Chromecast media streamer - as well as adding another surprise.

Chromecast for TV

In addition to the core features of the original Chromecast, such as direct connection to your TV via HDMI, up to 1080p video resolution output, and access to internet streaming services via your smartphone or other compatible devices, the 2nd Generation model (referred to as Chromecast for TV) offers up both a new look (see photo attached to this article), and some important enhancements, including more stable Wifi connectivity, as well as a new feature called "Fast Play" which, as its name indicates, provides quick access to video streaming apps, and instant playback of content.

However, the most important thing for consumers, is that unlike the original Chromecast, which only provided access to a limited number of streaming apps, Google is now offering access to a whole host of apps, more in line with what you would find available on both the Roku and Amazon Fire streaming sticks.

On the other hand, Google is not providing access to 4K streaming content (at least not yet - see update below), instead, pointing consumers toward the Android TV platform that is being incorporated into a number of Smart TVs for that functionality.

Chromecast for Speakers

Along with the Chromecast for TV, Google also unveiled another twist on Chromecast that it hopes consumers will like, Google Chromecast for Speakers (also referred to as Chromecast Audio).

Chromecast for Speakers consists of a small device, similar in size and appearance of the new Chromecast for TV, that plugs into a powered speaker (such as Bluetooth speaker), compact audio system, or even a stereo or home theater receiver, via stereo 3.5mm (or 3.5mm-to-RCA) connections, or a digital optical connection.

Then the magic begins. Using a compatible smartphone, tablet, Chromebook, laptop, or PC, you download the Chromecast-for-Audio app and then you can stream music content from select services (including Pandora, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, and more...) to your powered speaker or audio system via Wifi.

In other words, you can turn your powered speaker, which might work on Bluetooth, or an old standard audio system into a streaming media player, opening up a whole new variety of music content via the addition of Wifi capability provided by the Chromecast for Speakers device. In addition, Wifi allows for the transmission of wider-band audio than Bluetooth, so even you have a Bluetooth speaker and a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, using the Wifi option will provide better audio quality (content dependent).

Pricing and Availability

Google Chromecast For TV - $35 - Official Product Page - Official Order Page

Google Chromecast for Speakers - $35 - Official Product Page - Official Order Page.

UPDATE 10/04/2016: Google Announces Chromecast Ultra!

Building on the 2015/2016 Chromecast platform discussed above, the Chromecast Ultra is slightly larger but adds 4K streaming and Dolby Vision HDR capability from select streaming services (such as Netflix and Vudu) when used with a compatible Dolby Vision-enabled TV.

Examples of Dolby Vision enabled TVs include:

Vizio P-Series and M-Series 4K Ultra HD TVs

LG 4K Ultra HD OLED and Super UHD LED/LCD TVs

Also, to accommodate faster and more stable internet access required for 4K/HDR streaming, in addition to built-in Wifi, the Chromecast Ultra also includes Ethernet/LAN connectivity via an optional adapter.

The Chromecast Ultra is available via Best Buy.