What's inside the $35 Chromecast?

Lifting the electronics out of their casing.

Google announced a media streaming dongle on Wednesday, and surprised us all by charging only $35 for the device. Chipsets and components are becoming drastically cheaper for the large corporations, but the Chromecast still appears to be great value. Luckily, we've now had our first glimpse inside the ~2" dongle, and seen what this money really gets us.

iFixit, in their usual fashion, have completed a teardown to reveal what goes on inside. After using a plastic tool, the motherboard was removed, and revealed to contain 2GB of flash storage, 512MB of RAM, and a Marvell DE3005-A1 system on a chip. To compare, the Apple TV has 8GB of storage and Apple's own A5 chip running it.

Also notable, is the seemingly oversized heatsink which fills the full length of the device - still, product information reveals that the "Chromecast may get hot to the touch". iFixit pointed out a humours model number too: H2G2-42, an abbreviation for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and 42 being the answer to life, the universe, and everything, revealed in the same book. 

The Chromecast originally came with an offer of 3 months of free Netflix, although due to overwhelming demand, this deal was closed. Nevertheless, $35 is enticing without the free Netflix, even if now we know the tech inside isn't revolutionary.

Source and Image: iFixit

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23 Comments

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Haven't seen it mentioned, but to people talking about TVs without the SMART feature, there are SMART TV Extenders out, which a fairly cheap, and come with the same remotes as the SMART TV themselves. LG makes them.

Is anyone surprised or concerned that Google abandoned all standards to implement this device?

Or is anyone concerned that because it bypasses all existing content control, it will force providers to either block Chrome or stop offering content via a browser?

In a weird way, this is a wooden stake in the heart of HTML5 content, and people aren't super angry at Google, which seems strange.

Mobius Enigma said,
Is anyone surprised or concerned that Google abandoned all standards to implement this device?

Yes, I am getting less surprised as Google has definitely started moving away from standards and open source in favor of proprietary solutions this last year or so.

I fully expected this device to support the Miracast standard.

Mobius Enigma said,
Is anyone surprised or concerned that Google abandoned all standards to implement this device?

Or is anyone concerned that because it bypasses all existing content control, it will force providers to either block Chrome or stop offering content via a browser?

The content providers were playing hard-to-get with Google TV, so Google just came up with a solution that bypassed the whole idea of locking in content providers to a specific device or requiring them to write apps for the device. The content providers don't really care if the actual content is being viewed on a tablet screen, a laptop screen, or a large-screen TV screen ... as long as the subscribers keep paying them and/or the ads are being displayed to the viewers. This actually benefits the content providers and distributors, and whatever DRM was present when viewing the content on a browser keeps working with ChromeCast (kinda). I don't see any kind of backlash against Chrome or HTML5 from this ... perhaps even the opposite where everyone will make sure they support both perfectly.

sabrex said,

The content providers were playing hard-to-get with Google TV, so Google just came up with a solution that bypassed the whole idea of locking in content providers to a specific device or requiring them to write apps for the device. The content providers don't really care if the actual content is being viewed on a tablet screen, a laptop screen, or a large-screen TV screen ... as long as the subscribers keep paying them and/or the ads are being displayed to the viewers. This actually benefits the content providers and distributors, and whatever DRM was present when viewing the content on a browser keeps working with ChromeCast (kinda). I don't see any kind of backlash against Chrome or HTML5 from this ... perhaps even the opposite where everyone will make sure they support both perfectly.

Content providers were wanting compensation like other providers have had to provide funding. Microsoft and Apple have had to pay for content to offer/resell, but Google wanted a special pass for GoogleTV content.

They do care what device the content is being viewed on, check out Hulu Plus, there is a REASON a lot of content is ONLY licensed for PC/Web viewing and not devices. (From actor/writer/producer/director/etc royalties to non-competition agreements with local providers.)

I hope you are correct that there will not be an HTML5 backlash, but in trying to get more content available via HTML5 like Microsoft and Netflix are doing, this could put brakes on these projects as Chrome/Google doesn't have to enforce the copyright rights and with a non-encrypted device could be feeding content directly to recording and alternative distribution devices.

If Google truly cared about consumers, they would not have trackback information tracking built into these devices, which they do, and they would be supporting Miracast/DLNA standards instead of providing a window into their browser and controlled content.

Google is also reproducing something that already exists and they have been actively trying to block...

IE10 in Windows 8 supports browser/video standards DLNA streaming, however Google's Youtube 'locks' advertiser based content with Flash DRM to prevent IE10 from streaming video content on advertising based content.

Enable HTML5 on Youtube, watch a video in IE10 Metro, Charms, Share, Select DLNA device like the Xbox. (This works with any web page with HTML5 audio or video content in IE10.)

Google should be questioned on their lack of support of standards and people should consider the possible impact.

Google has already bypassed several other key HTML5 standards, like pushing for WebGL over the proposed secure W3C variation.

If Microsoft was doing this instead of Google, people would have the pitchforks out in protest for destroying the web and ignoring standards. In contrast, right now Microsoft is the default champion of standards, with Apple also pushing their own technologies.

It's basically the Chrome browser connected to the TV via HDMI and to the Internet via 802.11n ... but that simple formula allows any Chrome browser on any device to pass its state to the ChromeCast, thus the source of the content has no idea that the content is being displayed on the TV instead of on the original chrome browser on the laptop/tablet/phone/etc. Any content you could have watched on these devices in Chrome can now be displayed on the TV via ChromeCast. There is no way for the content providers to stop it, and there is no need for apps to be written for the ChromeCast. Google just gets centre stage with links to google video and music, and the other content distributors have to beg to have their own bookmark in there pointing to their HTML5 site.

This would have been revolutionary - 5 years ago. It's basically now an upgrade box to provide current tech to older tvs - not really revolutionary IMO.

Brian M said,
This would have been revolutionary - 5 years ago. It's basically now an upgrade box to provide current tech to older tvs - not really revolutionary IMO.

Yeah this is doing what Smart Blu Ray players are doing today. Not really impressed with smart TV's. The apps on my Sony TV are sluggish and slow, I've not really seen better performance from others.

Now the LoveFilm app on my Xbox on the other hand... Loads better!

Lord Method Man said,
Yeah this does the same thing that five devices already connected to my TV (as well as the TV itself) already do.

I fear the rats nest of cabling behind your AV cabinet

Haha A/V Wiring is a nightmare! Mine is ridiculous. The AV Receiver + Wii + Xbox + PS3 + Apple TV + Virgin box + Slingbox + 7 satellite speaker cables + subwoofer + HDMI for everything + power for everything + network cables for everything.

nice little device sort of pointless though with smart TV's on the rise. Think about it users can just download an app or the software used for this device.

Good idea its on the verge of being called revolutionary but can't give it that status due to it only being revolutionary for old hardware.

MrAnalysis said,
nice little device sort of pointless though with smart TV's on the rise. Think about it users can just download an app or the software used for this device.

and what about the hundreds of millions of 1080p lcd tv's that don't have apps built-in? Should they buy a £400 tv to get that? Clearly a $35 device is a great solution for them.

torrentthief said,

and what about the hundreds of millions of 1080p lcd tv's that don't have apps built-in? Should they buy a £400 tv to get that? Clearly a $35 device is a great solution for them.

Also, by promoting this platform - perhaps smart TV makers will be encouraged to integrate Chromecast as their app platform of choice in the future, should Google enable such a possiblity.

yes torrentthief they should not be so stingy and buy old/cheap hardware spend a few more quid to make it a little more future proof.

The idea is there but the time of it was wrong, if this was made 5 years ago grate but a smartTV is cheap these days.

Smart TV's are a good solution if you haven't bought one yet, but many already have TV's with HDMI inputs that are not smart. This is a smart product.
Heck I wouldn't waste money buying a smart TV. Yes they are expandable, but from what I have heard the interfaces are clunky. Why would I use my tablet or phone which I can touch and more easily manage content?

MrAnalysis said,
yes torrentthief they should not be so stingy and buy old/cheap hardware spend a few more quid to make it a little more future proof.

If i get the same services from a $35 device instead of buying a $400 tv why bother wasting all that money? TV quality hasn't improved for several years now, when izgo and oled tv's and 4k are at a reasonable price then i'll upgrade. Until then there is literally no reason to waste money, crazy that you think i'm "stingy". I have a ferrari to sell you for $200k, don't be stingy, just buy it, i'm not bothered that you car gets you from a>b at the same speed, don't be bloody stingy!

According to iFixIt, the Chromecast only has 2GB of flash storage. Where is the 4GB figure coming from?

Ace said,
According to iFixIt, the Chromecast only has 2GB of flash storage. Where is the 4GB figure coming from?

Fixed, sorry about that.

It does a lot more than the apple tv for about a 10th of its size and that isn't revelotionary? I guess gadgets can only be revolutionary or magical when made by apple.