Google reveals new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices

In today's open source roundup: Google announces a new Chromecast and the Chromecast Audio device. Plus: Google also announces new Nexus phones. And Google shows off the Pixel C tablet

Google announces new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio

Google's Chromecast streaming media player has proven to be a popular item on Amazon, getting four star ratings and lots of positive comments from Amazon customers. Now Google has announced a brand new Chromecast, and also the new Chromecast Audio device.

Valentina Palladino reports for Ars Technica:

The new Chromecast has a disk-like design, a departure from the original's dongle construction. Its improved internals should also make streaming easier and faster. Now featuring three antennas, it supports 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi for faster connectivity and heavier formats like 1080p. While the new Chromecast handles video and game streaming, the Chromecast Audio device will handle streaming music or podcasts. The new Chromecast plugs into a device with HDMI; Audio uses both optical and headphone jacks to plug into speakers.

The new Chromecast supports a feature called "Fast Play." Like the name says, this feature allows the Chromecast to start a video or audio stream much quicker than it did before. In terms of gaming, now developers can render a game on both your smartphone's screen and your TV, making your mobile device a type of controller or remote for what's on the display.

For audiophiles, Chromecast Audio does for music what the regular Chromecast does video content. Using Google Music, you can stream your tracks and playlists via Chromecast Audio and it can play on any speaker in your home. It also has guest access, so you can let friends who come over stream via Chromecast Audio even if they aren't connected to your Wi-Fi network.

The good news is that you're not limited to Google Music: Spotify has partnered with Google to support Chromecast and Chromecast Audio streaming. Also, the Spotify app will support multiple users at once, so you can skip songs in another friend's playlist if you don't want to hear them. This feature will roll out later this year.

More at Ars Technica

Google announces LG Nexus 5X and Huawei Nexus 6P Android phones

Google also announced two new Android smartphones, the LG Nexus 5X and the Huawei Nexus 6P. The Nexus 5X starts at $379 while the 6P starts at $499.

Ron Amadeo reports for Ars Technica:

The Huawei-built Nexus 6P is the bigger, faster, and more expensive version. It has a 5.7-inch 1440p display, an eight-core 2.0GHz Snapdragon 810, 3GB of RAM, a 3450mAh battery, a 12MP rear camera with laser auto focus, an 8MP front camera, and 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage. The Nexus 6P has an aluminum body that comes in "frost white," aluminum, and graphite.

At only 5.7 inches, the 2015 Nexus 6 won't be as big as the ludicrously large 2014 Nexus 6. Google spent a lot of time praising the Nexus 6P's camera, which apparently emphasizes low-light performance.

The LG Nexus 5X aims to recapture the spirit of the original LG Nexus 5 from 2013. It has a 5.2-inch 1080p (423ppi) IPS LCD, a six-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808, 2GB of RAM, a 2700mAh battery, a 12.3MP rear camera with laser autofocus, a 5MP front camera, and 16GB or 32GB of storage. The Nexus 5X has a plastic body that comes in white, black, and light blue.

Judging by the specs, we're optimistic about the battery life. Compare the 2700mAh battery and the (thankfully restrained) 5.2-inch, 1080p screen to the Galaxy S6, which has a smaller 2550mAh battery and higher-resolution 1440p, 5.2-inch AMOLED screen. We'll have to do some testing though.

More at Ars Technica

Google announces Pixel C tablet

Following in the footsteps of Microsoft and Apple, Google announced its version of a tablet/laptop hybrid with the Pixel C.

Jeffrey Van Camp reports for Digital Trends:

It’s difficult to tell if the new Google Pixel C is a great idea, or an awful one. It feels like a greatest hits list of Windows 8 convertible failures. It’s a clamshell, and the tablet is connected to the keyboard via magnets. But to open it or close it, you have to pull it apart and reconnect it. You can also flip the tablet upright and stick the keyboard to the back of it, though it makes the tablet thicker and heavier than you may like. The entire converting process is messy. Google tries to cover it all up with a beautiful aluminum design and smooth hinges that adjust angle easily. But will it be fun to use every day? I’m not so sure.

The keyboard itself is small, but it doesn’t appear so small that you can’t adjust to it in time. The keys have enough travel that they give plenty of click and feedback. Most impressive is how the keyboard will charge itself by grabbing a little juice from the tablet, which reps told me should pull about 10 hours of battery out of a charge. Fun feature: Tapping the tablet will cause a strip of LEDs to light up, showing how much battery is left. A USB Type C port is present, which should allow fast charging.

Google opted to stick with a common tablet size – 10.2 inches – for the Pixel C, but it has reverted to an iPad-like 3:4 aspect ratio, so it’s shaped more like a piece of paper. Google doesn’t admit that it’s 3:4, however: The company uses a wonky, engineer-ey new way to describe it, claiming the screen has a “square root of two” aspect ratio. Explaining a 3:4 aspect ratio isn’t complex enough, apparently.

The Google Pixel C tablet alone will cost $499 for 32GB of storage, and $599 for 64GB. The keyboard will add an additional $149, which means it will cost a you a minimum of $650 for this tablet / laptop combo – a steep price. It comes out later this fall.

More at Digital Trends

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