Rumored new 4K Chromecast may fix long-standing storage issues


Pictures of the new Chromecast.
Enlarge / The 2020 4K Chromecast with Google TV. It comes in colors.

It sounds like Google is cooking up another Google TV dongle. 9to5Google’s sources say a new 4K model of the Chromecast with Google TV is in the works. It would be a sequel to the aging 2020 model that was never really fit for the job in the first place. It would also sit alongside the 2022 HD model.

The report says the new device would stay at the $50 price point and come with a new remote. A new chip would be the primary motivation for a new device. The current 4K dongle has an Amlogic S905X3 (it’s just for Cortex A55 CPUs), and if Google sticks with Amlogic, a good upgrade would be the upcoming Amlogic S905X5. Besides a faster CPU and GPU, it also supports the AV1 video codec, something Google has been pushing across its ecosystem because it can cut down on what must be an incredible YouTube bandwidth bill. It has made AV1 a requirement for some new devices in order to get the YouTube app, and despite forcing it on competitors like Roku, Google’s best dongle doesn’t have hardware support for the codec yet. Technically the S905X5 is not official yet, so we don’t have a full spec sheet, but partners have been talking about it since last year.

The No. 1 thing a new Google TV dongle needs, and has needed for years, is more storage. Google Hardware is supposed to make devices that are purpose-built for Google’s software, but the 4K and HD Chromecasts with Google TV have never really been up to the task thanks to the 8GB of total device storage. Back in the early Chromecast days when these dongles ran a custom OS and only showed video streams, that was fine. These new devices run full-fat Android now, complete with a Play Store, access to millions of apps, and lots of preinstalled software. 8GB is not nearly enough.

On the current Google TV dongles, only about half of that 8GB of storage is user-accessible out of the box after the OS and other partitions suck it up, so there’s almost no room for apps. Don’t even think about the possibility of games—the very popular Genchin Impact needs 20GB to install. The cheapest $100 Android phones come with at least 32GB of storage now, and even that will be a tight squeeze for many users. The Chromecast’s non-existent storage lets Google sell these dongles for dirt cheap, but they’re also a terrible user experience since anything over the bare minimum of streaming apps will result in “low storage” error messages.

The lack of storage is probably why the current Chromecast with Google TV models are stuck on Android 12. There’s just nowhere to put a big update download when you ship a device with such limited storage. A new device would presumably come with Android 14 (or maybe even 15!) and would hopefully have space for updates this time.

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