Google Cast-enabled products
Update: Nearly one year after the partnership was announced, Denon confirmed via Twitter that it would not be integrating Google Cast in its upcoming HEOS line of speakers. We’ve updated this article to reflect that news.
Original article below…
Google’s always had a knack for treading new paths. From its humble beginnings as a web search giant to its innovations in home entertainment with the Chromecast and Android TV, the company has always had a unique way of tackling problems.
Maybe that’s why Google Cast, a platform that allows you to simply stream audio and video from one device to another on the same network without muddling through page after page of settings, made so much sense when it launched alongside the Chromecast in 2013.
It’s hard to imagine now, but back in those days there were only four compatible apps: YouTube and Netflix were supported on Android, iOS, and Chrome web apps, while Google Play Music and Google Play Movies & TV were also supported, but only as Android apps.
Skip ahead to January 2015 where there well over 150 apps supported with no signs of slowing down. That’s when Google introduced Google Cast for audio, a new platform that embeds the same easy-to-use software found inside Chromecast in dozens of soundbars, speakers and a/v receivers, all of which slated to come out this year.
Take one more step forward to today. Today the first of these next-gen sound systems has finally found its way into this world, and music in the home may never be the same again.
In order to properly welcome the first of these devices into the world we’ve rounded up the entire list of Google Cast-ready receivers from both past and future for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.
Chromecast is the alpha and the omega when it comes to Google Cast. From this modest, miniature device came the big idea that standard Bluetooth wasn’t enough. That it should only take one touch for media to go from on your little screen to your big one.
Google made a smart move by putting the new technology in this ubiquitous little streamer. By making the original Chromecast available for about the cost of a Blu-ray and refusing to change the cost when it released a sequel in 2015, Google practically ensured its success before it launched.
Google’s engineering team didn’t stop at the Chromecast, however. Taking the internal components of the streaming stick as well as its form factor the team created the Chromecast Audio, an audio-only version of the streaming device that works with most mobile devices.
Plug the device into a wall outlet via the included micro-USB cable, then connect to any speaker using a standard 3.5mm auxiliary cable and voila! Now you have a Google Cast-enabled speaker that can receive 24-bit audio files at a sampling rate of 96kHz.
Who says digital doesn’t sound as good as analog?
We’ll be the first to admit, the Asus-made Nexus Player isn’t perfect. It stumbled as the second Android TV device not because it wasn’t good, but because it came in the wake of the already-great Chromecast.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Its icon-heavy interface was fun to use, as was its IMDB-based search function. It was practically like having Roger Ebert next to you on the couch. The cherry on top of the cake was a solid gaming controller that allowed us to fully explore console-quality games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It may not have been the Nexus to entertainment Asus promised us, but it was a good first step.
The Nvidia Shield is like Chromecast in the sense that it’s based on Android TV and has Google Cast built-in for movies and music, but it’s different by virtue that it’s primarily designed for the most hardcore of hardcore gamers.
How’s Nvidia making that a reality? By combining a Tegra X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell GPU, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with its Nvidia Grid game-streaming service that has over 40 PC-quality games available for free, the Nvidia Shield will pretty much be Android TV’s proverbial heavy-weight champion of the world when it comes out in a few months.
Razer Forge TV
People often confuse the Razer Forge TV with the Nvidia Shield. If you’re one of them, there’s no reason to lose sleep over it. Any way you slice it you’ve got two great gaming platforms based on Android TV and come jampacked with beefy silicon that can play the latest and greatest games.
While Razer may not have Nvidia’s sweet game-streaming service, it does have a similar feature called Razer Cortex Stream that essentially lets you stream games from your PC to anywhere in the house. On top of Cortex you’ll also have a slew of cool peripherals to play with like the Serval controller and Turret lapdesk that will take your game to a new level when they launch in the next few months.
Sony Bravia TVs
Remember when every smart TV had its own platform? Sure some were better than others, but by and large the competition was always overshadowed by better, smarter over-the-top boxes. And while Sony could’ve continued trudging down that dangerous path, it decided to take the high road and let the fine people at Google’s Android TV division handle it instead.
Every single model in the Sony’s 2015 line of ultra-slim smart TVs will come loaded with Android TV, PlayStation Now and its sweet screen sharing program, Google Cast.
LG Music Flow Wireless Speakers
Despite what this list might suggest, video isn’t the only thing Google Cast is good at. Thanks to Google Cast for audio, we can now enjoy standalone speakers, soundbars and receivers that hook into our devices with one click of a button.
The LG Music Flow set of wireless audio components are the first official audio boxes on the planet to come with Google Cast built-in, which means it’s the only system to work with seamlessly with Android devices to control music anywhere in the house.
LG may be the first – but it won’t be the last – company to unveil a line of Google Cast-enabled speakers this month. Sony has recently unveiled that it will offer a plethora of connected devices from a/v receivers to sound bars that will hook into the Android ecosphere.
What makes the Sony speakers a better bet than LG or Denon’s lineup is its ability to push Hi-Res audio – or 96kHz/24bit music – over Bluetooth without running into a bottleneck. If Sony manages to infuse the simplicity of Google Cast with the clarity of Hi-Res audio at a price point people are willing to pay it could be game, set and match for audiophiles.
Just be warned, Sony’s new sound equipment won’t come cheap. The HT-ST9 will cost around $1,500 (about £1,300 AU$1,950) when it comes to store shelves, while the HT-NT3 has a suggested retail value of $700 (about £500, AU$900).