In our Chromecast with Google TV review we said that it was one of the best media streamers you can buy. While the best TVs often have Chromecast built in, there's still plenty of us whose TVs don't have all of Google's telly tech. So it's good to see that Google is about to make Chromecast even cheaper, which should encourage even more people to make their TVs smarter.
The news comes via The Verge, whose analysis of a new FCC filing – the regulatory paperwork tech firms file in the US just before they launch new products – says it's almost certainly a new Chromecast. It's a TV device that has a single USB connection, transmits HD video and has a remote control. The excitingly named Google G454V has dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE.
While it's possible that this device isn't a Chromecast, or that Google might not ship this specific model, it ties in nicely with what we already know about Google's Chromecast plans.
Why we're certain a cheaper Chromecast is coming
Google isn't great at keeping secrets, and we've known since January that it was working on a cheaper, HD Chromecast: according to reports in Protocol, the device will deliver 1080p rather than the current model's 4K and will run the usual Google TV interface. It won't be as powerful as the 4K model, but then it doesn't need to be.
One reason Google is planning a cheaper Chromecast is to spur adoption of the AV1 video codec. While AV1 is a 4K codec it also works at lower resolutions, and Google really really really wants hardware firms to support it for both its TV apps and YouTube. While the likes of Microsoft and Netflix back the codec, most current-gen streaming sticks and dongles – including the current Chromecast – don't. As it did with the VP9 codec in YouTube streaming, Google is really pushing firms to use more efficient and less bandwidth-intensive codecs to deliver the same quality with less data transfer.
It'll be interesting to see how Google prices this new Chromecast: Amazon's Fire TV Stick Lite is currently £29.99 / $29.99, and that's on a rare day when Amazon isn't having a fire sale on Fire devices. The current Chromecast is £59 / $50 / AU$99, so the HD version could turn out to be quite the bargain buy.