Chromecast with Google TV: Everything we know about Google’s upcoming Android TV dongle
This story was originally published and last updated .
Google’s long-awaited Android TV-powered “Chromecast with Google TV” is nearly here. While it won’t formally be announced until this upcoming Wednesday, basically everything about the dongle has already leaked. From specs, to pricing, and even literal hands-on videos, we’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see, short of a full and detailed review.
What will it look like?
Back in June, our friends at XDA Developers were able to dig up a pre-release firmware build for the dongle, and from it, they snagged our first early glimpse. Since then, Chromecast and Google TV branding have leaked together with the new name, and we’ve seen renders and even real photos showing off the dongle, its bundled Chromecast Voice Remote, and even the product packaging in plenty of detail:
When it comes to hardware, the Chromecast with Google TV is a small, not quite oval puck with a USB Type-C port for power and a dangling cable for HDMI output — pretty familiar design in general if you’ve used one of the later model Chromecasts. The front has plain embossed “G” Google branding and the back has your usual regulatory info, other required labels, an indicator light, and a button (probably for resetting).
Based on what we’ve seen most recently, the dongle will come in four colors: Cosmo Blue, Summer Melon, Rock Candy, and Snow.
The bundled Chromecast Voice Remote, in addition to its own weird branded name, includes a directional navigation pad, back button, Assistant button, home button, mute button, app buttons branded for YouTube and Netflix, a TV power button, a button to change TV inputs, a microphone, an LED to indicate when it’s activated, and volume controls.
Also included in the box is a power cable (Type-C to Type-A), power adapter, and two AAA batteries for the remote, as well as the expected manual.
Separately from the hardware itself, we even have photos and video of the Chromecast with Google TV in action. In short: It’s Android TV, running Android 10 (not the latest Android 11), and it should support all the same apps and services you would expect, but sporting a slightly redesigned interface that leaked earlier this year.
Some of the details have changed since that original leak, but the overall design tweaks are still present, with this interface promoting a “content first” mindset (that most folks will probably just see as advertising). Top center in the “for you” section is a big carousel of promoted content that tries to foist specific streaming services on you, much more prominent than single-tile advertising.
Enhanced YouTube TV integration was also revealed in an earlier leak as part of a “Live” tab, though we haven’t seen it in action — so far, folks that have snagged a software hands-on are not YouTube TV subscribers, and that tab is not present for them.
Other changes spotted earlier in the year included smart display-like Nest alert overlays for folks with the smart home hardware to take advantage of it, plus a new Assistant interface, though we haven’t seen any of that in action yet, either.
Detailed specs for the upcoming Android TV dongle have been divined from XDA’s leaked software images. While it’s not competing with more powerful hardware like the Nvidia Shield, it should hold its own when it comes to basic tasks like streaming.
Some of these specs are based on information that dates back to the end of last year, and details may have changed since then.
This chipset has appeared in several other Android TVs and set-top boxes, with the oomph to decode up to 4Kp75 10-bit H.265 content, output up to 4Kp60 over HDMI2.1, and support for several HDR standards. So far, leaks haven’t tested which HDR standards the dongle will support, but the hardware itself can do HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision.
The chipset also supports HDMI 2.1’s Auto Low Latency Mode, which could let the Chromecast with Google TV tell compatible TVs to switch over into game mode for specific activities — probably hinting at official support for Google’s cloud game streaming service Stadia, though Google could use it for something else, or it may ignore that hardware support entirely. We should note: Early testing of units already in customer’s hands indicate no Stadia support beyond the existing workarounds as of yet, though it might depend on as-yet-unreleased updates.
How much will it cost?
$50. While prior leaks by Protocol claimed the dongle should come in at around $80, more recent leaks directly from retailers indicate a $50 price tag. In fact, some folks already have their hands on the hardware, as some stores like Walmart didn’t honor Google’s September 30th launch date.
That price puts it on even footing with competitors like the Amazon Fire TV 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+, though it’s still far cheaper than the new (and much more powerful)
hotdog tube-shaped Nvidia Shield Android TV.
When will it come out?
September 30th. That’s when Google’s event is, and that’s when retailers that have the product in stock have told customers sales will open. Simple as that.