Google’s New 4K HDR TV Streaming Dongle Is Free, For Developers
Stephan Jukic – May 8, 2018
As we covered in mid-April, Google seemed to be working on a next generation 4K streaming media device for consumer release. This was what some surprising FCC filings indicated and what a number of other tech watchers also assumed might be the case, though there was skepticism about the filings being from Google itself.
Well as it turns out, the streaming 4K dongle described in the FCC filings was indeed Google’s but it won’t be a consumer device, at least for now.
Instead, Google developed the little gadget as a reference product for developers who can then use it on TV application testing. The dongle device is even free for those who Google sends it to. Qualified developers can apply to receive their own “ADT-2” units (as the device is called) right with Google itself and will be sent a copy at no cost if approved.
The device is reasonably robust within the confines of typical streaming 4K device specs. It supports 4K resolution playback at 60 frames per second and offers HDR support as well. As for the ADT-2’s hardware, it comes with a 2GB RAM, a modest 8GB storage and even includes a voice remote with Google Assistant support. The Nexus Player isn’t supported but then this is an expressly app development oriented dongle with few frills.
In basic terms, the dongle is quite similar to the existing 4K, HDR-capable Google Chromecast Ultra. Which Google sells for $69 on the consumer market. However unlike the Chromecast, which relies on content streamed from external devices, the ADT-2 comes with a built-in Android TV smart OS with its own streaming interface, content apps and Google Play included. In other words, the developer dongle is more like the Nvidia Shield but without the bulky build and powerful gaming-oriented hardware specs.
Our guide to today’s most advanced and powerful 4K HDR streaming media devices, from sticks to consoles
Consumers might not find this little gadget all that interesting given its limited and specialized release but what it could portend about Google’s near-future consumer content device plans is worth considering. If the company has already put together such a compact Android TV dongle for developers, releasing a consumer version of the same tiny device is a pretty small step and one that we can easily see Google taking at some point in 2018 once the company has examined what the experts it sends the ADT-2 to have managed to do with it.
One possible unveiling date for such a device would be Google’s Pixel hardware event in the fall of this year but we should stress that we’re completely speculating on this last point.