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Google’s new 4K Chromecast comes with a voice-enabled remote control, but the best feature will likely be the new Google TV user interface that sits atop Android TV. Rather than focus on apps and services, Google TV is designed to help you find content you want to watch on the streaming services that you subscribe to.
Old timers—that is, tech enthusiasts whose memories date back to about this time in 2010—will remember Google TV as an epic misfire that cost Logitech a ton of money. I’m sure Google figures people have forgotten all about that Google TV.
In any event, the company didn’t give us a lot to go on at today’s 30-minute announcement event, where they also debuted a new Nest smart speaker and Pixel smartphones, but it did demonstrate how voice—using Google Assistant on the remote, your phone, or any of its smart speakers—will be key to the content-discovery process. That’s a significant departure from previous generations of Chromecast that relied on your smartphone to initiate the streaming process.
And it seems you’ll not only be able to control your TV experience when you’re at home with the remote, but you’ll also be able to manage your watchlist and set programs to record to an unlimited cloud DVR using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop no matter where you are.
In addition to streaming entertainment, the new Chromecast with Google TV (as it’s officially called) can also display digital photos and stream live video from Nest cameras and video doorbells. The new Google Chromecast retains the same familiar form factor—a dongle with an HDMI sub cable attached—and will be available in three colors—“snow,” “sky,” and “sunrise.” It costs $49.
We have a review unit and will post an in-depth review once we’ve thoroughly put the streamer through its paces.
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Michael covers the smart-home, home-entertainment, and home-networking beats, working in the smart home he built in 2007.