Expectations are high for the Google Chromecast Ultra 2, the rumored 2nd Generation 4K streaming device from Google that follows in the footsteps of the amazing Chromecast Ultra.
Rumors of the new Google Chromecast Ultra device were compounded recently, when photos of the dongle were circulated by XDA and XDA Recognized Developer deadman96385, who found an ‘out-of-box experience’ video for the device (codenamed Sabrina) in a pre-release Chromecast firmware build.
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If the rumors are true, the Chromecast Ultra 2 could offer two things we’ve never seen on any Chromecast product before – Android TV and a fully functional remote control.
You see, while Chromecast has always been the best platform to Cast to from your phone or tablet, we’ve never seen a full, robust smart platform on the device with its own apps and app store, and that’s what could be coming in the next generation.
The benefit of it supporting Android TV (or, Google TV, if they decide to change the name back) is that Android TV apps can support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, two next-gen audiovisual standards that are supported on the Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield and other rival devices that aren’t fully supported on Google’s current flagship streaming dongle.
So what do you need to know about the Chromecast Ultra 2? We’ve broken down all the rumors below so you can brush up before its potential unveiling at the next Google event, which is set to take place on July 8.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A 4K HDR streaming dongle with a remote and Android TV built-in
- When is it out? Possibly July 8, but that's TBC.
- How much will it cost? Likely around $80 (£60/AU$120)
Chromecast Ultra 2 price and release date
Most of the information we have about the Chromecast Ultra 2 comes from a source who spoke confidentially to 9to5Google who claims to know about the device.
While said source couldn’t pinpoint a launch date, based on an FCC filing by Google for a new remote, it sounds like we could see the streamer sooner rather than later – and with a Google smart home event set to take place on July 8, the new Chromecast Ultra could be with us in a matter of weeks.
Hmmmm... a Google Remote for an unknown device just passed through the FCC... https://t.co/nz0xBG8AtL pic.twitter.com/6gEQ35nR7gMarch 10, 2020
Google has been pretty consistent with its release dates and pricing for its Chromecast products: almost all of them release in the fall months for the northern hemisphere (September through November) and cost well under $100 (£80 / AU$150).
Early reports say that the device is expected to cost $80 (around £60 / AU$120) in order to compete with the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, but again, this is all a moving target as Google finalizes its 2020 product launches.
Chromecast Ultra 2 design rumors
We have a pretty good idea of what the new Google Chromecast Ultra will look like, after photos of the dongle were circulated by XDA and XDA Recognized Developer deadman96385, who found an ‘out-of-box experience’ video for the device (codenamed Sabrina) in a pre-release Chromecast firmware build.
Based on the images, Google’s new streaming dongle has taken on an oblong shape, but retains many of the same design cues from previous versions – namely the embossed G in the middle of the device and the all-matte colored exterior.
Photos for the device show it in three different colors – white, black and peach – as well as the anticipated Android TV remote with a circular navigation wheel popping up in one of the photos as well.
The remote's design also gives us a few clues about the device, like the fact that it will be HDMI-CEC compatible, allowing you to raise the volume on your TV or mute the TV with the pack-in control. The remote also has a Google Assistant button which implies that it will have a microphone built-in as well.
Inside, it’s likely that Google will upgrade the processor to something a bit more current than the processor it plugged into the 2016 Chromecast Ultra but exact specs are TBD. The closest approximation of what the Chromecast Ultra 2 could be rocking under the hood comes from the ADT-3 developer device that Google released in 2019 that has a quad-core A53 processor and 2GB of DDR3 memory, with support for HDMI 2.1.
Chromecast Ultra 2 feature rumors
All the rumors so far point to an interface that’s going to be the latest version of Android TV (version 10, if you’re keeping track).
Admittedly, the latest version of the software wasn’t a massive improvement for the platform and mostly focused on some back-end improvements in the way of security and reliability, but Google is constantly experimenting with new row ideas and isn’t afraid to roll out major overhauls mid-release like it’s done in the past.
If you’ve never used it, however, Android TV tries to show you a buffet of content from different sources: the top row is your most regularly-used apps, with several rows underneath that follow content recommendation snippets for each of the main services.
In terms of supported services, all the main players are available on current Android TV devices – Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, HBO, Twitch, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, EPIX and many, many more are all available, and on the Nvidia Shield, two of those services offer Dolby Vision streaming (it’s Netflix and Vudu) which means that we could see the same functionality on the Chromecast Ultra 2 if it decides to go the full fat Android TV route.
Besides the quality of life enhancements offered by Android TV, a new Chromecast Ultra device could definitely tap into the Nest ecosystem should Google decide to go down that path. Android TV already has a fair amount of smart home integration using Google Assistant, and there's always a chance that Google could re-brand the streaming device under its Nest banner like it did with the Google Nest Mini.
We think the new Google Chromecast will offer support for Dolby Vision, too. While neither XDA nor the XDA developer that leaked the Chromecast photos could provide a ton of details on the specs of the platform based off the source code, the publication did find out that it will be running an Amlogic SoC that can support Dolby Vision playback.
Considering that the original Google Chromecast Ultra supported 4K HDR10 streaming, it would make sense for Google to up the ante here with Dolby’s more powerful format this time around.
Finally, we can’t shutdown the rumor mill without talking about support for Google Stadia, the company’s cloud gaming service that it launched in 2019.
Considering that the service launched on the original Chromecast Ultra, there’s little doubt in our minds that we’ll see the service again make an appearance on the Chromecast Ultra 2 and will be compatible with the Stadia Controller.
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