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New Chromecast and Chromecast Audio announced

Everything you need to know about the new Chromecast devices

The original Chromecast was a bit of a revelation. It gave us media streaming on a super-tight budget when it first launched. Now there’s an updated model with improved Wi-Fi plus a dedicated audio device to plug into pretty much any Hi-Fi, amp, radio or set of speakers you may own.

Google has also update its Chromecast support with lots of clever new feature to help you find the content you want and stream it quicker and easier than ever before.

What you need to know, quickly

What is it?

The latest Google media streaming device and follow-up to the original Google Chromecast

When is it out?

It’s available to buy now from the Google Store

What’s new?

An all-new design with improved Wi-Fi performance plus a Chromecast dedicated to audio streaming

What will it cost?

Best of all, both new devices are still just £30

Chromecast Audio

The big news is the new dedicated audio streamer. The Chromecast Audio will connect to your existing speakers or amplifier through a conventional 3.5mm jack (phono/RCA or optical SPDIF), essentially turning any speaker into a wireless-enabled one. It’s a cool looking little device too, with concentric rings that bring to mind LPs. Of course it does require power, so you’ll to hook it up to a USB port too.

Google has added a load of new features to its audio streaming, that will work with both Chromecast Audio and regular Chromecast devices. The big news is support for Spotify, which had to be there for this to succeed. There’s also the ability for anyone on your home network to control any Chromecast device, so you can both flick through the playlist. You can also control it from anything, be that Android Wear or a browser tab.

What’s more, the Chromecast Audio will support multiroom functionality (later in the year). Similar to how a Sonos or Samsung multiroom speaker works, you’ll then be able to group numerous speakers together to have identical music playing in every room or control each speaker individually. The device will work alongside Google Cast for Audio, which sees Google working with speaker manufacturers to have casting abilities built directly into the hardware such as with LG’s updated Music Flow range.  

It all sounds brilliant (pardon the pun) and we’ll bring you a review in the very near future. 

Get ready for the new Chromecasts by checking our list of the best Chromecast apps

New Chromecast

The New Chromecast is more an update than a completely new thing. It costs the same amount but now has a much improved design with its HDMI port on the end of a flexible cable, so that you can plug it into your TV even if all the ports are close together and packed with other connectors. It looks cooler too, though we doubt anyone will appreciate the new colours when it’s stuffed around the back of your TV.

Wireless Improvements

Aside from the new shape, the other big improvement appears to be to wireless performance. The original Chromecast supported only 802.11n (although there was an optional but hard to obtain Ethernet adaptor). The first hardware version didn’t support 5GHz networks, either. If you were looking to stream local content, say from a NAS via Plex, this could prove a network bottleneck when it came to streaming high-definition, high bit rate content.

The New Chromecast supports 802.11ac, which should provide a vast improvement in wireless speeds, if your router supports it too. As you can see below Google is pretty confident about its new antenna system too and how signal reception is improved.

Fast Play

The new Chromecast supports “Fast Play”, which essentially means it can establish a connection faster when you’re casting content. Witth supported providers this means it starts buffering content before you even hit play, say while you’re browsing the menu, or even searching for content, it’s looking for what you’re likely to want to watch and pulling down the first few seconds ahead of time. Amazon is already doing this on Prime Instant Video and Fire TV and it’s a great little feature.

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