Yesterday, we learned that there’s a new Chromecast with Google TV device in the works. That’s pretty much all we know about it: per references found in the code of the latest preview version of the Google Home app, a new Chromecast labeled YTC (consistent with previous Chromecast with Google TV streamers, which are referred to as YTV and YTB) is currently at some stage of development.
Considering existing Chromecast devices are competing in the low-end market at $50 and $30, it’s not a big leap to think this new device may be a bit more premium (there’s no proof, but let us imagine). In that spirit, here are our hopes for what a potential premium Chromecast with Google TV could look like.
More powerful specs
For fifty bucks, the Chromecast with Google TV does an admirable job of serving up 4K HDR streaming content, but the interface isn’t always as snappy as we’d like. Being built around a low-cost Amlogic chipset and just two gigs of RAM, that checks out. The fix here seems simple: a higher-end Chromecast would need a higher-end chipset and more memory.
Depending on just how premium this theoretical new Chromecast would be, Google could include a first-gen Tensor chipset; if that’s too splashy to be practical, a more premium Chromecast could use a more powerful Amlogic CPU, like the POP1-G Amazon stuck in the third-generation Fire TV Cube.
As for RAM, three to four gigabytes should do it. That sounds low, but it’d represent a 50 to 100 percent increase over current models, and even the burly Nvidia Shield TV Pro makes due with just three gigs. Video streaming just isn’t very memory-intensive. Four would be nice for future-proofing, and the better the specs, the better our hypothetical Chromecast would be at running Android games.
The single biggest hardware shortcoming any new Chromecast needs to address — whether it’s meant to be premium or not — is storage. Both the 4K and HD Chromecast with Google TV come with a restrictive eight gigabytes of storage space. It’s not at all hard to butt up against this limitation, even if you’re only using your Chromecast to stream video. Doubling that storage to 16 gigs is an easy ask, and ideally, a premium device would come with 32 or more.
Better (or any) port selection
There’s something to be said of existing Chromecast with Google TV hardware’s simplicity; whether you’re looking at the 4K or HD model, it’s a flat little pill with a short HDMI cable attached and a single USB-C input for power. Easy to understand, easy to use. But for users who want to do anything even remotely technical, like expanding their device’s storage or wiring up Ethernet, it means additional accessories and more mess behind the TV.
A built-in Ethernet port and a second USB-C port to connect flash drives and other optional accessories without an adapter seem like reasonable hopes for a more premium Chromecast. A full-size USB-A port and a slot for a MicroSD card would also be excellent, functional additions, but it’s hard to imagine Google offering either at this point.
A refined remote
I actually love the existing Chromecast remote; I miss it when I’m watching TV on pretty much any other device. Still, if we’re making a wishlist for a premium Chromecast, there are a couple of improvements I wouldn’t mind seeing.
Losing the branded YouTube and Netflix buttons would be great, but short of that, I’d take one or two programmable buttons that can be set to open apps or perform functions of our choosing. Dedicated media control buttons would also simplify things; different apps can respond to the existing Chromecast remote’s directional inputs and face button differently, and plainly labeled buttons for play/pause and fast-forward/rewind would eliminate any ambiguity.
I also really appreciate the motion-activated backlit keys in the Shield TV’s remote, and I’d love to see a future Chromecast remote adopt a similar system. And while I wouldn’t get much use out of it, personally, a Roku-style 3.5-millimeter headphone jack built into the remote would be great for private viewing.
We can dream
As I said at the top, though, this is all just speculative fun; we don’t know for sure what exactly the unannounced YTC Chromecast device is. It’s entirely possible it’ll be another midrange option, meant to replace 2020’s Chromecast with Google TV on store shelves, or something else entirely. On balance, the 4K Chromecast with Google TV is already one of our favorite streaming devices, but we’d love to see someone challenge Nvidia’s long-running dominance of the high-end Android TV box space. Why not Google itself?