Google’s new Chromecast will supercharge picture quality

Google has annouced a new souped-up version of its Chromecast streaming player, called “Chromecast Ultra,” which offers higher video quality and a corresponding price bump.

Chromecast Ultra comes with support for 4K resolution video, HDR10, and Dolby Vision, and costs $69 — an additional $34 over the regular Chromecast that streams in 1080p. It will be released in November.

4K basically means more pixels on a TV that supports it, whereas HDR (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision), means the difference between your TV’s brightest and darkest colours will be greater, allowing for finer detail on the shades in between.

Even if you don’t have a TV that supports these features, Google says Chromecast Ultra will be 1.8 times faster than the original Chromecast because of Wi-Fi improvements.

In late September, Chromecast’s main competitor Roku announced its new lineup of media streaming devices. There are now five new Roku streaming boxes to chose from with varying features, one of which has been dubbed a “Chromecast killer.” The new $30 Roku Express has similar features as Google’s Chromecast, like 1080p streaming and app support, for $5 less.

But Chromecast Ultra will compete with Roku’s higher-priced products, like the Roku Premiere ($80), and Roku Premiere Plus ($100). The Roku Premiere supports 4K, but you have to spend the extra for the Premiere Plus to get the HDR support.

It’s good to remember, however, that with both 4K and HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision), the content actually available is limited, though they will likely be more important moving forward. The best place to check it out now is on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Previous reporting by Antonio Villas-Boas.

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