Google held a press announcement this morning where they made official all the leaked information on the new Nexus 7 tablet. They also announced a new product, the Chromecast, and that’s really what stole the show.
The Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that plugs into your TV, and Google is touting it as the easiest and best way to watch YouTube and Netflix on the biggest screen in your house. It’s powered through USB, and they made a big deal about how easy the setup is.
It allows you to initiate video playback from any Chrome device, be it an Android device, a ChromeOS computer, a regular computer running the Chrome browser, an iPad or iPhone, whatever you have available. You can control playback as well; pausing, stopping, resuming, and scrubbing through to any point in playback. And you can switch control devices. If someone starts a video from their phone and walks away, you can assume control of the playback session with your tablet, no problem.
The number of services that work with Chromecast out of the box are pretty limited; mostly Netflix and YouTube and the Google Play store, but towards the end of their talk, they revealed that since it works with the Chrome browser itself, you can send any Chrome tab to the TV. Suddenly that opens up some great possibilities for streaming just about any web content to the TV. There’s also an SDK, so developers can add the capability to their apps immediately.
Chromecast is available for preorder today in the US, and is coming soon to other countries. It’ll run you $35, and that includes 3 free months of Netflix. The Netflix free months are applicable to new and existing Netflix accounts.
New Nexus 7
The new version of the Nexus 7 feels like a bit of a letdown after the Chromecast, but it really is a pretty nice update of an already nice tablet. It looks very much like the original, though is oriented toward landscape mode rather than portrait mode, and they’ve shaved off several millimeters in each dimension, leaving it slimmer and lighter.
- True 1080p 1920×1200 display
- Stereo & Virtual surround sound
- Front- and Rear-facing cameras
- 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro
- 1.8x CPU, 4x GPU compared to original Nexus 7
- 2GB RAM
Android Jellybean 4.3 ships with the new Nexus 7, and will be available as an update for a variety of other Android devices, including the original Nexus 7. It is a point update for Android, not a major new release, but it does have several noteworthy features:
- Multi-User with Restricted Profiles
- Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth low energy)
- OpenGL ES 3.0 support
- DRM APIs
DRM APIs may seem like a questionable feature, but it does mean Google will have far less trouble getting content onto the OS than it had previously.
Citing overwhelming demand, Google has ended the free Netflix promotion on sales of the Chromecast, according to the L.A. Times. While that’s a shame, $11 having been a phenomenal price, even $35 is pretty good.