Google launches new Chromecast devices in Korea

March 3, 2016
Google's Chromecast and TV business head of the Asia Pacific region, Mickey Kim, introduces the Chromecast 2.0 during a press conference in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (Courtesy of Google Korea)

Google’s Chromecast and TV business head of the Asia Pacific region, Mickey Kim, introduces the Chromecast 2.0 during a press conference in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (Courtesy of Google Korea)

By Yoon Sung-won

Google Korea rolled out its new Chromecast devices with upgraded capabilities to play mobile visual and audio content on TVs and audio equipment.

With the launch of Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast Audio, the world’s largest mobile system software provider seeks to boost its presence in the over-the-top (OTT) services sector.

“We have contemplated how to utilize TV in a smarter way fit for the digital and online era,” said Mickey Kim, Google’s Chromecast and TV business head for the Asia-Pacific region, during a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday.

Connected to a TV through a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, Chromecast can be paired with a home Wi-Fi network and work in sync with mobile devices ― not only on Android systems but also ones with iOS and Windows.

Google launched the first edition of Chromecast in 2014 and has sold more than 20 million units globally. The device has successfully drawn interest from consumers seeking to use their TV as a smart device.

“Unlike many other similar devices in the market, which simply offer mirroring function from mobile devices to a TV screen, Chromecast operates based on Google’s cloud technology and thus allows users to multitask with their smartphones while playing visual content on a TV,” Kim said.

Google unveiled the new Chromecasts during the Google I/O event last September.

Compared with the previous model, which had a memory stick design, Chromecast 2.0 has a disc shape and an extension cable. It also has a stronger wireless network reception capability thanks to its three adaptive antennae embedded inside the device.

Adding to support for the latest wireless network technologies such as dual band and 5-gigahertz Wi-Fi, the device provides smooth transmission of high-resolution visual data without buffering, Kim said.

During the event, Google also showcased the new Chromecast’s software upgrade that enables more diverse mobile games on a wider TV screen through the company’s cloud server.

“Tapping into the advanced hardware of the latest mobile devices, users can play diverse mobile games on TVs as we provide an open application programming interface,” Kim said. “We are reaching out to several Korean gaming companies for cooperation and expect more to join in.”

Chromecast Audio is designed to connect to any audio device to serve as a wireless speaker with Wi-Fi connection. Thanks to the wider bandwidth of Wi-Fi networks, Chromecast Audio support high quality and lossless sound sources, free from the distance limitations of Bluetooth-based devices.

The device also provides a multi-room function that enables multiple Chromecast Audio-powered speakers in different spots to play the same music at the same time.

Chromecast Audio, however, supports only a limited number of music applications that are compatible with the Chromecast mobile app. Among Korean music streaming services, NHN Entertainment’s Bugs Music, KT Music’s Genie and CJ E&M’s Mnet currently work with the app, while MelOn, which has the largest number of users here, is not compatible yet.

Kim added the company is working to make MelOn compatible with Chromecast Audio soon.

The Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast Audio have been priced at 54,900 won ($44.69) in Korea.

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