Google's $69 Chromecast Ultra takes on Amazon, Roku this holiday

Google's plug-in streaming device will support higher definition 4K video plus wider resolution HDR.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Watch this: Google gives the Chromecast an Ultra upgrade

Google unveiled a $69 updated version of its Chromecast media-streaming device, which will stream video in 4K and HDR picture quality.

4K is a measurement of video resolution. It multiplies the number of pixels compared with traditional "high-definition" images, but often CNET reviewers fail to notice much difference in picture quality. High-dynamic resolution, however, is a perceptible improvement to the naked eye by accentuating color and amping up the contrast between the brightest whites and darkest blacks.

The new Chromecast Ultra also has an Ethernet port, so you can plug internet connections directly into the device rather than relying on Wi-Fi. The company said the product is 1.8 times faster and has improved Wi-Fi to handle the load of the bulky, higher-def streams.

Google unveiled the latest version of the device, which plugs unseen into the back of a TV to stream media like Netflix and other content, at a flashy event in San Francisco.

Google reimagined the concept of the streaming-media device when it introduced Chromecast in 2013. The then-$35 dongle was a breakout hit: Google sold more Chromecasts in its first six months than No. 1 competitor Roku sold of all its products that whole year, according to researcher Parks Associates. The popularity triggered a wave of imitators, but as other set-top devices have packed more power into smaller boxes, Chromecast has begun to look outdated.

Tuesday, Google said it has sold more than 30 million Chromecasts. Since last year, when the company introduced its prior edition of the Chromecast, the overall time that people spent watching video on Chromecast increased 160 percent, it said.

Chromecast Ultra will be available in November for $69 from Best Buy, the Google Store, Target and Walmart in the US, as well as from retailers in 15 other countries. It'll cost £69 in the UK and AU$99 in Australia. The company will have a wait list on the Google Store that will alert you when the Chromecast Ultra is first available.

Also in November, Google Play Movies will be rolling out 4K content, the company said. Chromecast will also be able to cast 4K video from Netflix, Vudu and YouTube, the massive video site also owned by Google.

Google's event revealed two new phones known as Pixel and introduced a Daydream virtual-reality headset.

Check out all of today's Google news.

Google's Pixel hardware event

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