The streaming device is also the first of its kind to support both HDR formats, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. With companies like Amazon and Netflix dedicated to expanding Ultra HD content lineups featuring both HDR formats throughout the year, the Chromecast Ultra may become an attractive purchase for A/V enthusiasts with 4K home theaters when it goes on sale later next month.
Chromecast Ultra features (via HDGuru.com)
The device features an HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2, micro-USB port, 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, and an Ethernet port on the A/C power adapter. Surprisingly, it is also the company’s first streaming device to include an Ethernet port which should prove useful for streaming without signal interference.
It is currently unknown which chipset Google has used for the Chromecast Ultra, though it is likely one of Marvell’s new quad-core chips for 4K multimedia based on ARM designs. The previous Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio are based on the dual-core Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus, which might explain the advertised 1.8x performance improvement.
30 million Chromecast units sold to date
The company said during its product announcement that it has sold over 30 million Chromecast devices to date, with a goal of anticipating consumer needs and delivering features competitive to other product offerings. Roku, for instance, just announced five new media streaming players last week between $30 and $130, some of which also support 4K HDR playback. Unlike Google, however, the company’s newest devices only support the HDR10 format, and the same goes for Nvidia’s Shield TV, Microsoft new Xbox One S, Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 Pro and the recent PS4 firmware update.
Google Chromecast Ultra (via DigitalTrends.com)
Dolby Vision content still limited but growing
The Chromecast Ultra has potential to be a game-changer for HDR content availability. Before the device goes on sale, the only other ways to receive Dolby Vision content are by using a 2016 LG, Philips or Vizio television set, an Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, or by streaming through a PC equipped with an Nvidia Geforce 10 series or AMD Radeon RX 400 series GPU to one of these panels.
Amazon has been offering Dolby Vision HDR content since June, while Netflix announced HDR streaming in both formats at CES 2015 and is currently expanding its lineup to over 150 hours by the year’s end. Meanwhile, Google mentioned it will begin upgrading its software ecosystem to support 4K content and will soon make it available through the Google Play store.
Pricing and availability
While Google’s previous Chromecast 2 was available for $35, the new 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra will retail for $69 and should be available sometime in November.