Google At Home With WiFi, Smart Hub, 4K Chromecast

In addition to a new smartphone and VR headset, a fresh batch of smart home products and a next-gen Chromecast streaming adapter were also included in the parade of products that Google unveiled  on Tuesday.

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On the OTT end, Google bowed the latest addition to its Chromecast streaming adapter family with a device that can support 4K/Ultra HD resolution, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Vision.

Mario Queiroz, VP of product management at Google, said the new product, called Chromecast Ultra, will cost $69 and become available in November. The new device can load content 1.8 times faster than its predecessor, and features an Ethernet port (via the power connector).

Google, Queiroz said, has sold 30 million Chromecast devices so far. Google introduced its second-gen Chromecast lineup last year, and launched the original Chromecast in July 2013.

Google is also taking aim at whole-home wireless connectivity with Google WiFi, a mesh-based platform that integrates a network assistant/companion app that’s designed to optimize the home network behind the scenes by avoiding congestion by placing users on the “right” WiFi channel.

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Google will sell an individual Google WiFi for $129 or a pack of three for $299. Preorders start in November, followed by shipments in December.  

While retail is the initial focus for Google WiFi, Google is also expected to pursue deals with cable operators and other broadband service providers.

Putting pressure on Echo and other products that rely on Amazon’s Alexa platform, Google also introduced a smart home hub called Google Home that is integrated with Google Assistant. Examples of partners that are integrating products with Google Home include Google-owned Nest, Samsung’s SmartThings, Philips Hue, and IFTTT, which lets users connect the apps with “if this, then that” statements.  Google Home will also work with Chromecasts and support voice-casting for Netflix.

Google Home will sell for $129 each, and reach retail stores by November 4.