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Make entertainment smarter with Google’s new Chromecast devices

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Ousting the 2 year old version, the new 2015 Chromecast is set to once again offer a better way to make your regular devices smarter; unspecific to it just being a TV anymore, with the Chromecast Audio. Coming in at a small form factor of 39.1grams the new streaming stick and its new music-inclined sibling now boast an improved WiFi frequency support, redesigned to now be a circle and include an integrated HDMI cable.

The pre-existing Chromecast used to look much like a stick with a HDMI head, opting for something a little more discrete and easier to plug in, Google has decided to switch to an integrated cable system to make the device easier plug in to hard-to-reach TV ports. The modern-looking Chromecast 2015 now adds support for a wider WiFi frequency; extending to 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz with 802.11 ac bands. These bands have allowed Google to prove that the new device adapts to your WiFi surroundings in your home, giving you the best connection at any given time.

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Hardware aside, its app experience is now tweaked to give you a better overall time while using the device. Content is now shown on a home-screen but only caters to your personal app list, so if you don’t have a certain app, content from it won’t be shown. Though, through content discovery, it’ll show you the available apps that have the content you’ve choose to search for. Picking up (to) Full HD content on apps like Google Play, YouTube, Spotify and Netflix, users will surely have a lot of shows and movies to choose from.

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The updated Chromecast app wasn’t that slow to begin with but thanks to a pre-fetching option called “Fast Play”, app developers can allow their systems to decrease app load-times (80% faster in a test). Intrinsically, this pre-fetching extends further to utilise algorithms to pre-download content based on your behaviour – e.g. downloading a small bit of a new episode based on your current episode list. What about mobile gaming? Well, gaming is supported too, casting your screen onto your larger screen – now allowing multiplayer options that let users use their devices as controllers.

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Google also announced its audio only option with similar capabilities; the Chromecast Audio. As mentioned earlier, it’ll make your regular devices a little smarter, allowing you to repurpose your older expensive Hi-Fi systems by making them a streaming machine – similarly to a bluetooth speaker BUT you won’t be interrupted by phone calls anymore, since the device can run on its own without disturbing your listening.

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Owners can choose from an extensive list of apps like iHeart Radio, Pandora, Google Play Music (not available in Malaysia), Spotify and etc. Google aims to add to their Chromecast Audio app list throughout its lifetime. Some other perks when comparing it to a bluetooth speaker would be less battery drain, ability to use multiple cross-platform devices to control your “new” smart-er speaker.

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Sharing is enabled through audio sharing on the app that gives users on the same network the capability to control music options on the Chromecast Audio. Best thing is, casting is done on the app you’re playing your music from, so you won’t need to learn an entirely new app just to play music. Later in the year an OTA update will even allow multi-room audio, syncing all your speakers to play from one source.

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Both devices are readily available in 17 countries (Malaysia left-out) but only cost $35 each (RM 156) and come in 3 colour options – Lemonade, Coral and Black. The devices work with computers or mobile devices that use Android 4.1+, iOS 7.0+, Windows 7, or Mac OS X 10.7 and ChromeOS We’ll be sure to update everyone if/when the two devices come to Malaysia. For more info check out their website here (click on “TV” for the 2015 Chromecast / “SPEAKERS” for the Chromecast Audio)  and watch the video below.