Google is making a 4K Android TV dongle, but it’s not for consumers
Earlier today, we covered some interesting news about Stadia that came from Google’s presentation at the International Broadcasting Convention. Besides the Android TV update timeline, Google also announced its self-designed Android TV dongle. This device isn’t aimed at consumers, but rather operators. While this isn’t the Nexus Player successor you may be looking for, it’s still an interesting device because it’s a 4K streaming device that will receive 3 years of software maintenance support from Google. Even though you can’t buy this product directly from Google, you may end up with a customized version from an operator.
There aren’t that many great, dedicated Android TV media streamers on the market. The best option is the NVIDIA SHIELD TV followed by the Xiaomi Mi Box S. There are a lot of off-brand models, but none receive anywhere close to the same level of software support as the SHIELD TV. Google can definitely match NVIDIA here, and they’re offering “a single [software] for all operators with 3 years software maintenance commitment” that is “pre-certified with some of the most popular [over-the-top] services.” Google says its Android TV dongle provides operators a “commitment-less, hassle-free” experience. It’s unclear if “software maintenance” includes updates to new versions of the Android TV OS, however.
Our source who attended the presentation captured images of some of the slides, confirming some of the specifications of the Android TV dongle such as a Quad-Core A53 CPU (16500 DMIPS, HEVC/VP9 decoding), dual-band Wi-Fi (11ac 2T2R, Bluetooth 4.2), and Bluetooth remote with Google Assistant voice input. The slide also says the device is “made by Askey,” which is a subsidiary of ASUS. Although we can’t share the images of the slides taken by our source, 9to5Google received an image from Google showing off the remote and dongle. The image shows that the remote has a Google Assistant and YouTube buttons and that the Android TV dongle appears to have a USB Type-C port.
Google hasn’t sold a consumer Android TV product since the Nexus Player. Their last Android TV product is the developer-only ADT-2 manufactured by SEI Robotics. We can’t say why Google isn’t offering this product to consumers, but it’s not because Android TV is a failing platform. On the contrary, Android TV is thriving among operators, as TV and service companies are thrilled by Android’s customizability. Even if you won’t see any Google branding on this Android TV dongle, you’ll still benefit from Google’s software support.