Cheaper, HD-only Chromecast dongle in the works

The Chromecast with Google TV is pictured alongside the Google Assistant voice remote.
The new Chromecast with Google TV comes with an operating system and a voice-control remote with Google Assistant. (Photo: Matthew Keys/Graphic: The Desk)

Google is developing a new version of its flagship Android TV dongle that will allow customers to stream high definition video at a lower price point.

The dongle will be a lighter version of the Chromecast with Google TV, a $50 streaming device that comes bundled with a remote and offers access to the updated version of Android TV.

The cheaper version is expected to come with the same remote, but the dongle itself will come with scaled-down hardware, so it can be offered at a cheaper price. While the current version allows access to ultra-high definition content (UHD/4K), the cheaper dongle will reportedly only allow customers to stream shows and movies in high definition (1080p).

According to 9to5Google, the cheaper version will run a less-powerful processor that supports the AV1 video standard but doesn’t allow for anything beyond high-definition video.

Otherwise, it will look the same and offer a similar user experience as the feature-filled $50 dongle, but at a lower price.

Google has not officially acknowledged that the company is working on a cheaper dongle, and it is unclear when the device will be offered for sale. According to 9to5Google, it is possible the device will be announced alongside a new slate of Google-built smartphones, which could happen as early as October.

The flagship Chromecast with Google TV was recently discounted at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart for as little as $30, though prices have since gone back up to around the normal retail rate. It is possible that retailers will offer additional sales on the current-generation Chromecast with Google TV if a cheaper version and an updated version are announced next month.

Streamers who are looking for a cheap Google TV device can pick up one made by Walmart’s in-house electronics brand Onn for $15. The Onn Android TV streaming device comes with everything a viewer needs right in the box, including a remote control and HDMI cable, and offers access to high-definition video from thousands of supported apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.

Customers who want something a little more-premium should consider the Onn Android TV 4K box, which is sold at Walmart for $20. The Onn Android TV box is the same as the stick, except the streaming device is a puck with upgraded RAM and allows viewers to watch 4K content.

Both the Onn streaming stick and Android TV box have received largely positive reviews, though some users have reported problems with lag that can be attributed to the less-powerful internal hardware compared to other Android TV streamers on the market. It’s generally an issue that users of the Chromecast with Google TV don’t have, so if Android TV is going to be your daily driver in the living room, it might be better to pick up a current Chromecast with Google TV device or wait for the cheaper one to come out.