Google introduced a $29.99 Chromecast streaming dongle with Google TV offering up to HD-level resolution with high dynamic range (HDR) support.

Google announced the new more price-friendly Chromecast option through a blog Thursday. The device includes many of the features found in the 4K-supporting Google TV model, with lower resolution capability, for a $5 savings, making it a potentially better value for anyone with 720p or 1080p level HDMI-enabled television sets.

It could be an option for someone looking primarily to stream live sports now coming exclusively to streaming apps like Prime TV or Apple TV+, for example.

Like the previous Chromecast release, this new HD option includes a full Google TV user interface, along with the Android TV library of supporting app services, including the most popular options.

In addition to up to 1080p Full HD resolution and HDR, the new Chromecast supports standard dynamic range (SDR) and will passthrough Dolby Atmos to supporting external audio components.

The dongle adds support for HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG high dynamic range profiles, although HD-only supporting displays will be incapable of presenting the full specular highlight benefits, and 4K/HDR TVs will be unable to access native 4K content through the dongle to fully support the higher available resolution. Most 4K TVs, however, come with built-in streaming platforms to answer that. The new dongle could bring a different user interface and a few apps and features not available in the 4K TV’s platform.

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On the plus side, the new cheaper HD Chromecast now includes a remote control that bypasses the need of a smartphone to control playback, although it will continue to work with mobile devices, as well, for those who prefer to have both options.

This means users will have plug-n-play operation convenience that is more in line with a Roku streaming stick or Fire TV stick, for those who don’t want to be bothered with the need for additional devices in the equation.

Along with the beefy Android TV app library, the new HD dongle supports the classic Chromecast functionality of casting content from a smartphone, tablet or PC onto the TV screen. Stream will also find access to cloud gaming from Stadia, Google Assistant voice control through the supplied voice remote and Google Home smart device support.

Other features built into the underlying Android 12 TV OS is support for the new AV1 codec now starting to be used by YouTube, Netflix and others.

The device includes 8GB of internal storage. As a bonus, Google throws in the chance to sign up for six months of free Peacock Premium service.

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By Greg Tarr

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