Google launches Internet TV ‘dongle’ and new Nexus

25 July 2013
By Edd Gent
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Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management, holds the new Google Chromecast dongle

Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management, holds the new Google Chromecast dongle

Hugo Barra, director of Product Management at Android, holds a new Nexus 7 tablet

Hugo Barra, director of Product Management at Android, holds a new Nexus 7 tablet

Google has announced its move into Internet TV and the release of its latest Nexus tablet.

The firm’s new Chromecast “dongle” device can be plugged into a television's HDMI port to allow users to stream media from smartphones, tablets and computers, in a similar way to competitor Apple’s Apple TV.

But priced at just $35 (£23) in the US, where it was launched immediately, and able to operate across multiple operating systems, be it Android or Apple's iOS, the firm is laying down the gauntlet to its rival.

In a blog post yesterday Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Android, Chrome and Apps, said: “Chromecast is a small and affordable device that you simply plug in to your high-definition TV and it allows you to use your phone, tablet or laptop to ‘cast’ online content to your TV screen.

“It works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies and TV, and Google Play Music, with more apps like Pandora coming soon. With Chromecast, we wanted to create an easy solution that works for everyone, for every TV in the house.”

The device is plugged directly into the user’s television's HDMI port, and uses wireless home Internet to link to devices. But unlike other similar devices the media is streamed from the Cloud, rather than from the mobile device itself, which Google says allows for higher-quality streaming and had less impact on battery life.

The firm also unveiled the latest version of its flagship Nexus 7 – a tablet that charges up wirelessly – at an event in San Francisco, with the second-generation expected to go on sale in the UK before Christmas.

The new Nexus 7 is slimmer and lighter than its predecessor and comes with a bigger screen and a 4G option for high-speed broadband and is also the first to use an updated version of Google's Jelly Bean operating system, Android 4.3.

Speaking at the event, Hugo Barra, Google's vice president of Android product management, said: "Nexus 7 was a big hit. We're trying to follow up with another one. This is a significant upgrade to the first generation... with a high-resolution screen with more than double the number of pixels."

Google claimed the screen made it the world's highest-resolution tablet, offering 323 pixels per inch. The tablet has front and rear cameras, with 1.2 megapixels and five megapixels respectively. The 16GB version will cost $229 (£149) in America, while the 32GB model with be priced at $269, Google said.

The new version will have enough battery power to allow users to watch nine hours of high-definition video or to do 10 hours of Web browsing.

Google also revealed the new Android 4.3 system can help parents stop children racking up huge app bills by including settings enabling them to "mute" in-app purchasing options.

Jonathan Leggett, mobile expert at price comparison website, said the price tag of the new Nexus 7 meant it was "neatly positioned to take a bite out of Apple's tablet domination".

He said: "The new model has a more powerful processor and an improved resolution which is considerably better quality than its mini-tablet rival – the iPad mini. It has also been slimmed down and weighs less than its predecessor."

However, the lack of quality apps on Android compared with the iPad mini could be the device's "achilles heel", eggett added.

Stuart Miles, founder of gadget review website Pocket-lint, said: "The new Nexus 7 looks very impressive on paper, delivering a technological punch for tablet users at a price.

"I suspect it will be even more popular than the original model. Apple finally has a serious challenger on its hands."

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