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Android "Google Chromecast with Google TV" dongle with a new "Google TV" ecosystem and UI
#1
"Google Chromecast with Google TV" first-party Google-made Android TV powered HDMI dongle was just now launched at Google's Pixel 5 event with a recommended retail price of $49.99 ($50 US) and it is a "Chromecast" in name only.

https://store.google.com/us/product/chro...v?hl=en-US

Image
 
Unlike previous Chromecast video dongles, this new dongle is based on full Android TV 10 operating system, but they renamed it to "Google TV", comes with Google Play Store to support third-party apps like Kodi + allow sideloading apps.

"Google has created a new “Google TV” layer atop the operating system that completely replaces the old home screen experience."

https://tv.google/?hl=en-US



With this, Google has basically not only rebranded their new version of"Android TV" UI/ecosystem to "Google TV", this new "Google TV" ecosystem/UI/platform that totally changes the focus to be on the video content instead of on apps.

This new "Google TV" UI is all about content aggregation. Project lead said "Think of Google TV as your personal TV curation" during her presentation Google TV.

Their point with this new content curation and the new UI is that you should not need to enter different individual apps to find new content (kind of like Kodi's media importing concept https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=224794 ).

It is not clear if this new “Google TV” user interfaces will be exclusive to only this new Chromecast device from Google and if they keep the "Android TV" branding for third-parties or not, it still is Android TV underneath that new UI after all.

https://www.engadget.com/chromecast-goog...00527.html

https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/29/21494...d-features

https://www.techradar.com/reviews/chrome...-google-tv

Anyway, the dongle also has an optimized auto low latency mode, presumably primarily to support low-latency output for streaming gaming services like Stadia (a cloud gaming subscription service developed and operated by Google).

Dongle codename is “Sabrina”, has a USB Type-C port for power, and is using an Amlogic S905D3 Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A55 1.9GHz SoC with ARM Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and have 2GB of RAM + 8GB flash (about 4.4GB of storage for users). 

The SoC supports video decoding for 4K @ 75 10-bit H.265 content, video output at up to 4K @ 60 over HDMI 2.1, HDR video playback with HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, and more + Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth (4.1).

The dongle will officially come in four colours: "Snow" (white), "Sky" (light-blue), or "Sunrise" (pink-orange), colours (there was also rumours of "Rock Candy" grey color version).

Chromecast with Google TV hardware specifications:
  • SoC = Amlogic S905D3 SoC with Quad-core processor @ 1.9GHz and ARM Mali-G31 MP2 GPU
  • System Memory = 2GB RAM
  • Storage = 8GB flash
  • Video Output = HDMI 2.1 up to 4K HDR @ 60 fps with ALLM support
  • Video = 4K H.265/H.264 with Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+ support
  • Audio = Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (pass-through)
  • Connectivity = 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5  (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz), Bluetooth
  • Remote = Remote with buttons and microphone for voice control
  • Power Supply = Via USB Type-C port
  • Dimensions  = 162 x 61 x 12.5 mm
  • Weight = 55 grams
 
The bundled "Chromecast Remote" is a voice/microphone-enabled remote control that since previously is known under the codename “Abbey”. It includes a directional navigation pad, back button, Assistant button, home button, mute button, app buttons branded for YouTube and Netflix, a TV power button, a button to change TV inputs, a microphone, an LED to indicate when it's activated, and volume controls.

To confuse thing a bit more, along with the launch of the new Chromecast with Google TV, Google is also changing the name of the Google Play Movies & TV app to "Google TV", but that will act more as a companion app for smartphones and tablets, so it is not the same Google TV Launcher that runs on the Android TV based operating system that runs on this new "Google Chromecast with Google TV" dongle. The rename of the Google Play Movies & TV app will happening on Android phones to start, though you can expect it to change on other mobile platforms like iOS eventually as well. 

https://www.androidpolice.com/2020/09/30...movies-tv/

As part of the Google TV hullaballoo, Google is releasing a Google TV app later today, replacing the old Google Play Movies & TV app that some of our readers probably forgot existed. Based on leaks, this change in branding is universal, and Play Movies & TV is being replaced by Google TV everywhere. As before, the new app lets you manage your watchlist, view recommendations, and even watch content, though it also sports a fresh coat of paint to go with the branding change.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/30/21492...chromecast
 
Some time ago, Google tried to create a whole ecosystem of content around the “Play” brand. It’s still there: the Google Play Store is Google’s app store, Google Play Books will let you buy books and comics, and despite several years of starvation and neglect Google Play Music still has yet to completely shut down and be replaced by YouTube Music.

What’s clear, though, is that the “Play” branding no longer plays, so Google is simplifying it to just Google TV.

Let’s run down a few of the different TV products Google offers now, as a kind of glossary:

 
  • Google TV (the mobile app for smartphones and tablets). Formerly known as Google Play Movies & TV (and still known as that on phones that don’t run Android). We’ve covered this above, but the key thing to know is that it’s an app for phones. You can use it to rent movies or watch stuff you’ve purchased elsewhere if you’re signed up for Movies Anywhere. I suppose you could also use this app to cast video to...
  • Chromecast with Google TV. This is a new dongle you can use to stream video either directly or via cast. It’s $49.99 and seems quite capable. It runs...
  • Google TV. In the context of running on the Chromecast, Google TV is the interface you left/right/up/down your way through to find something you want to watch. It is, as you might expect, heavily focused on search and the Google Assistant. It’s also going to be offered to other TV makers who’d like to use it. The companies most likely to do so are probably already using...
  • Android TV. Android TV is Google’s main television operating system, a version of Android that’s fully optimized for the TV layout. Google TV runs on top of Android TV, but is distinct from it. Think of it as a formal Google layer on top of the open source Android platform — because that’s what it is. And you know, one of the apps you can run on it is...
  • YouTube TV. YouTube TV is Google’s live television streaming offering. It costs $64.99 per month, which is almost surely as or more expensive than what your local cable TV provider might offer you. Oh, speaking of, Google is also a cable TV provider via...
  • Google Fiber TV. Google once had ambitions to provide gigabit internet to cities around the US, but it’s really dialed those back. When Fiber launched, it often offered a bundled TV package. Google has stopped offering this traditional TV service to new customers, but it still provides it to existing users. It’s one of several ex-products that lie in the Google Graveyard. And there’s another product in that graveyard worth talking about ...
  • Google TV (RIP, 2010-2014). The original Google TV was an ambitious product that had two completely impossible tasks: take on big cable and make web TV a thing. Oops, neither of those things happened, although the interface ideas championed in that first iteration of Google TV were quite good.
It’s been about five years since Google put the final nail in the original Google TV’s coffin (via Google+, but that’s another story). That is probably enough time for most people to have forgotten both Google TV and its very IR-Blaster-centric scheme to take over the living room. But we have not forgotten. How could we, when it gave us a remote control like this?


Older references:

https://www.xda-developers.com/google-an...a-support/

https://mightygadget.co.uk/google-androi...k-sabrina/

https://www.androidpolice.com/2020/09/26...d-sabrina/

https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/28/21459...lease-leak

https://9to5google.com/2020/06/12/google...tton-leak/

https://9to5google.com/2020/09/11/chrome...google-tv/

https://9to5google.com/2020/06/02/androi...-features/
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#2
Ha, Google TV is back from the dead  Laugh ! It's odd they're layering their own new TV UI on top of their own Android TV UI. Looks like a USB-C hub is compatible to add wired Ethernet, adoptable storage and peripherals.
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#3
(2020-09-30, 20:47)hdmkv Wrote: It's odd they're layering their own new TV UI on top of their own Android TV UI. 
I do not think that they are, layering the new Google TV UI on top of their old Android TV Launcher, instead, they have simply revamped the Android TV Launcher and rebranded it. 

Android TV is more the whole operating-system, platform and integrated ecosystem than simply just the Android TV Launcher which is the GUI app for TV that you actually see.
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#4
I'd be tempted by one of these but not for Kodi use, my Odroid N2's already have all my Kodi needs covered.
My Chromecast Ultras pretty much fulfil my streaming service needs, if this device has framerate switching on Android TV apps with HDR, Dolby Vision and up to Atmos sound its a goer for me.
I like the functionality of my Ultras but I could do without having to use my phone or tablet to use them.
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#5
Just the skin in a sense. Ordered one to try out as I'm a sucker for these, even though the last thing I need is another streaming stick/dongle/box.

A guy on Reddit claims it does framerate switching, but take that with a grain of salt until experts here confirm.
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#6
Just to clarify one thing, this new "Google TV" has nothing to do with the old "Google TV" platform that was quietly killed back in 2014.

But hey, at least the Kodi Team can finally say that Kodi runs on "Google TV".  I can remember when XBMC didn't back in the day Wink

https://www.theverge.com/2015/1/6/750476...android-tv

Wonder what will happen with the with the wikipedia article for "Google TV"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_TV

Google TV was a smart TV platform from Google co-developed by Intel, Sony, and Logitech that was launched in October 2010 with official devices initially made by Sony and Logitech. Google TV integrated the Android operating system and the Google Chrome web browser to create an interactive television overlay on top of existing online video sites to add a 10-foot user interface, for a smart TV experience.

Google TV's first generation devices were all based on x86 architecture processors and were created and commercialized by Sony and Logitech. The second generation of devices are all based on ARM architecture processors and with additional partners including LG, Samsung, Vizio and Hisense. In 2013, more second generation Google TV-supported devices were announced by new partners, including Hisense, Netgear, TCL, and Asus, some of which including 3D video support.

Google TV was succeeded in June 2014 by Android TV, a newer platform which shares closer ties with the Android platform and has a revamped user experience integrating with Knowledge Graph, and providing casting support from mobile devices. As of June 2014, the Google TV SDK is no longer available, ending any future software development for existing devices and effectively deprecating the platform.


Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit...=981173180
(2020-09-30, 21:03)hdmkv Wrote: Just the skin in a sense. 

I think that it is a little more than that but perhaps you can compare it with a "skin" if you judge it by Kodi's definition of skin for Kodi (as in GUI skinning with integrated scripts and addons that can extend a skins functionality), but for any other software that is not Kodi a "skin" cannot totally change the user experience as much as this. As in most other software a "skin" mostly just allow cosmetic theming to changes textures and colours or maybe replace image assets which only change the general visual style. With the exception of computer games with advanced game engines, I do not think that any other software application is as skinnable as Kodi is, (well maybe MediaPortal but that is a fork of Kodi/XBMC).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_(computing)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_(computing)
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#7
As I understand, the 'older' Amlogic S905X2 SoC/chipset in this dongle does not support AV1 hardware-accelerated video decoding.

YouTube has used AV1 for quite a while now, and Netflix recently started to stream in this format for compatible devices.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amlogic#Me...ily_gen_2)

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/10/21/...rocessors/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2019/07/19/...vs-s905x3/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/09/22/...android-9/
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#8
I'm wondering how many ads will be displayed in the TV section. And possible others.
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#9
(2020-09-30, 23:01)RockerC Wrote: As I understand, the 'older' Amlogic S905X2 SoC/chipset in this dongle does not support AV1 hardware-accelerated video decoding.

YouTube has used AV1 for quite a while now, and Netflix recently started to stream in this format for compatible devices.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amlogic#Me...ily_gen_2)

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/10/21/...rocessors/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2019/07/19/...vs-s905x3/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/09/22/...android-9/

Yes - but both Netflix and YouTube also serve content in alternative codecs - and if this devices has been being developed for a while to get kinks knocked out of it etc., then it isn't going to be bleeding edge tech.  SoCs that support AV1 are only just beginning to appear - so it's not unexpected that this device isn't based around them?

The S905X2 is a reasonably mature processor (it's older than the S905X3 in the well regarded ODroid C4?) - but seems to have the same video decode functionality as the 905X3.
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#10
(2020-09-30, 21:03)hdmkv Wrote: Just the skin in a sense. Ordered one to try out as I'm a sucker for these, even though the last thing I need is another streaming stick/dongle/box.

A guy on Reddit claims it does framerate switching, but take that with a grain of salt until experts here confirm.

Be interesting to see if it does.  Until now apps have had to support Android TV's frame rate switching functionality (Kodi does, Netflix doesn't...) on devices like the Shield TV.
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#11
(2020-09-30, 20:20)RockerC Wrote: The dongle codename is “Sabrina” and has a USB Type-C port for power, it appears to be using an Amlogic S905X2 Quad-Core 1.8GHz SoC with ARM Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and have 2GB of RAM + about 4.4GB of storage for users.
Appears the SoC is Amlogic S905D3.
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#12
I can't wait for people to test this out. If this is as strong as the vero 4k+ for 4k HDR streaming, this will be my next purchase. Following this thread in case anyone buys it and can test it out that 4k HDR and framerate switching works.
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#13
(2020-10-01, 00:26)hdmkv Wrote:
(2020-09-30, 20:20)RockerC Wrote: The dongle codename is “Sabrina” and has a USB Type-C port for power, it appears to be using an Amlogic S905X2 Quad-Core 1.8GHz SoC with ARM Mali-G31 MP2 GPU and have 2GB of RAM + about 4.4GB of storage for users.
Appears the SoC is Amlogic S905D3.

So same as Khadas VIM3L? 

Hopefully the USB Type C connector is USB 3.0 (the SoC looks to support it).
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#14
(2020-10-01, 00:31)truthlesshero Wrote: I can't wait for people to test this out. If this is as strong as the vero 4k+ for 4k HDR streaming, this will be my next purchase. Following this thread in case anyone buys it and can test it out that 4k HDR and framerate switching works.
Also be interesting to see if it supports HD Audio bit streaming like the nVidia Shield TV based on Android TV, or whether it's limited to PCM 2.0, DD, DD+ (with Atmos) and DTS (like some other Android platforms)
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#15
pending issues - 

- bitstream hd audio like Shield? natively in other apps as well meaning support is in Android
- support for DTS?
- AV1?
- interlaced video?
- speed compared to FireStick4K, Roku Ultra
- can storage be expanded via usb-c
- will the recommendations engine support content from apps like Kodi/Plex/Emby etc
- will the voice search support content from apps like Kodi/Plex/Emby etc (I expect the last 2 points to be false)


Lots of people looking at this for replacement for Odroid/Shield at lower cost.
Also for those who use Netflix, there's an offer of $90 for device with $77 in Netflix credits which is a pretty good deal.
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