With all of the excitement surrounding Google’s new Nexus Player and the other Nexus devices, a new version of Google’s popular Chromecast streaming dongle quietly appeared on the FCC’s website. Not much appears to have changed about the $35 thumb-drive sized device, which allows users to cast music, pictures, videos, and another content from their Android devices to the big screen. In fact, the only real noticeable change for the device is the new FCC ID. Notably missing in the update is evidence of the often requested support for 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the FCC carried out any tests on the 5 GHz bands, so users seeking improved network performance are out of luck. Without a built in Ethernet port, those who use their Chromecast in areas with several different Wi-Fi networks may experience instability with their connection.
Everything else appears to be mostly unchanged. The dongle still connects to an HDMI input and outputs 1080p video and audio. As mentioned, without Ethernet, the only networking option is the built-in Wi-Fi 802.11n. The only other connection on the device is the Micro USB port at the opposite end, which is used to provide power to the device.
Even with the rather underwhelming hardware refresh, Google still continues to release improvements on the software front. Most recently, Google has added the new “Backdrop” feature to the Chromecast, giving users the ability to personalize their Chromecast’s idle display. Users can choose from personal photos, as well as images from Google Maps, news, weather, and other sources. Jacky Hayward, a member of the Google Chromecast team stated “We’re always working to update Chromecast with the the latest software and hardware components, but we don’t have any new user-facing features planned for this device.” With this being said, it doesn’t look like this new Chromecast will get a taste of the new Android TV software, at least not yet. The updated hardware hasn’t been officially announced though, so there may be more here than what the FCC reports reveal. We will wait and see what Google has in store, so stay tuned.