Google's tiny but powerful Chromecast media streaming dongle has been on sale in Australia for almost three years. An updated, faster version (often informally called the Chromecast 2) has been on sale in the US for six months, but it hasn't been released in Australia -- until now. The latest and greatest Chromecast is on Aussie retail store shelves today.
The second iteration of the Google Chromecast adds a triple-antenna Wi-Fi setup that intelligently switches between 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands on dual-band networks, and also includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi support. It's much faster than a first generation model, too, loading the Web-optimised apps for YouTube, Netflix and other video streams in around a quarter of the time of its ancestor.
It's also got a new design that swaps the previous Chromecast's plug-in dongle design for a circular plastic hockey puck, at the end of which is a magnetised HDMI connector on a short integrated cable. That magnet lets the Chromecast puck fold back onto itself when plugged in, reducing the amount by which it protrudes from the side of a TV.
The new Chromecast still requires an external power source, with a microUSB port and cable in the box as well as a USB wall plug power adapter. Google says it's investigating power over HDMI for a future version of the Chromecast.
The new Chromecast -- that's what Google is calling it still -- is $59, a slight jump from the previous version's $49 RRP. As of today, it'll be on sale in JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Bing Lee and The Good Guys, as well as Google's online store. (New Zealand readers: across the ditch, your Chromecast will be NZ$69 and available through Noel Leeming, JB Hi-Fi, and The Warehouse.)
The new Chromecast will be available everywhere in a black finish, but as of Friday, Google's online store will also sell the media streamer in Coral red and Lemonade yellow.
Also on sale today is the new Chromecast Audio, which swaps the Chromecast's HDMI connector for a 3.5mm audio jack. That connector will let you plug it into any actively powered speaker system and add Google Cast wireless audio connectivity, which is supported in apps like Spotify and Google Play Music. Multiple Google Cast devices can be synced from a single smartphone to play music simultaneously, making the Chromecast Audio a cheap way to create a multi-room home audio system.
The Chromecast Audio also goes on sale today for the same price as the Chromecast, but will only be on sale in JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman (as well as Google's online store).