The first Google Chromecast launched in 2013 and was a resounding success thanks to the streaming stick’s sleek design and $35 price tag. In 2015, Google followed up with a second-generation version that saw a new design and improved casting performance, as well as adding the Chromecast Audio to the lineup, which lets you cast music to virtually any powered speaker.
Related: Test out new features before the public in Google’s Chromecast Preview Program
At its “Made by Google” press event on Tuesday, Google announced the latest iteration of its powerful little streamer, the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
In September, noted leaker Evan Blass, or @evleaks, tweeted an image of the updated Chromecast device, purportedly called the Chromecast Ultra. This turned out to be a dead-on first look at the appearance of the updated Chromecast.
The device looks similar to last year’s Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, albeit without the Chromecast logo. It has been replaced with a “G,” highlighting Google’s interest in marketing the product as “made by Google.”
As early rumors suggested, all references to “Chrome” have been removed, and when the device boots up the “G” logo appears. Despite these changes, the device will still be called the Chromecast Ultra. That may be due to the initial device’s success — rebranding it to something new could confuse consumers.
The branding change isn’t the only thing the 2016 variant is bringing to the table. The new model also bumps up the resolution to 4K, and adds support for HDR (High Dynamic Range), including support for both HDR10 (the most prevalent format) and Dolby Vision. Unfortunately for those on a budget, this also bumps up the price tag, bringing it to nearly double the price at $69. That said, the price will make it one of the cheapest 4K streamers available when it debuts in November, alongside the Xiaomi Mi Box.
Queiroz said at the event that the new Chromecast Ultra is 1.8 times faster to load content, thanks to faster components and Wi-Fi improvements. The Chromecast Ultra also features built-in support for Ethernet connectivity, a first to be included in the popular streaming device.
The Chromecast Ultra becomes available in November, when Google will also begin rolling out 4K Ultra HD content via the Google Play Store. Viewers will also be able to cast 4K content from Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube. Dolby also announced today that Paramount, which announced earlier this year that it would be mastering titles in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, has made Star Trek Beyond available via Vudu using both technologies.
We’ll be checking out the device on the showroom floor, as well as bringing in the device for review as soon as we can get our hands on it, so stay tuned for our impressions on Google’s first 4K Ultra HD streamer.
Updated on 10-04-2016 by Kris Wouk: Updated with official information from Google’s “Made by Google” event.