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Is Google Creating a $35 HDMI Dongle Called Chromekey?

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The week leading up to Google I/O, we received a tip that mentioned the possibility of Google announcing a product called Chromekey. At the time, we thought this was going to be an HDMI-style dongle that could plug in to any monitor or TV in order to make Chrome OS accessible on any screen at a low price point. While we still believe there is an HDMI-style dongle in the works called Chromekey, new information points towards it being more of a receiver, that can interact with your smartphone, tablet, or computer to extend not only a Chrome experience, but also streaming video and other content to your TV.

Let’s talk about what we think we know. 

What exactly is Chromekey?

Chromekey is an HDMI dongle that can plugin to a TV or monitor and then display mirrored content from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. It allows you to put a Chrome browser onto a big screen, or stream videos and access other apps from smaller screens to your TV.

How does it work?

In order to use Chromekey, you’ll need to have an open HDMI port on your TV. Once connected to your TV, it’s powered by a USB cable (plugs into TV or AC adapter), attaches to your local WiFi network, updates automatically to new software, and is an extension of the content you consume on your other devices.

You will be able to “CAST” the Chrome browser from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV so that you can enjoy the full internet on any display. But beyond just Chrome, the Chromekey will allow you to mirror content from YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix directly to your TV. You could even pull up sites like Hulu, ABC, Google Maps, or other video sites.

It is our understanding that Google Chrome will receive an update in the near future that will allow it to mirror itself to other screens (so be on the lookout for that). We would also assume that an update to the mobile versions will include a “CAST” icon that when pressed, turns blue to let you know that you are connected to a TV. This is likely similar to what you see with the YouTube app currently.

So that also means that future apps could have “CAST” support built in, that would allow you to mirror them to your TV with the press of a button.

What are the specs?

The specs won’t blow you away by any means, but since it’s more of a receiver than a powerhouse computer, you shouldn’t expect them to. We’re looking at an HDMI plug, a single core processor, 2GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, VP8 (Chrome mirroring), CEC compatibility, video resolution at 1080p, and is powered by USB (or an adapter).

Availability and price?

According to sources, the Chromkey will launch for $35 on Google Play, at Best Buy (both online and in stores), and through Amazon. For a limited time, Google may even offer free shipping should you pre-order the device.

Still no word on a launch date, but it sounds as if it could be ready in the “coming months.” That’s not much of an exact time frame, and we were sort of expecting to see this at I/O and didn’t, so it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Interested in a product like this? At that price point, it seems like a product you would want a couple of, to attach to every TV in your house.

  • Fernando Landaverde

    And this ended up ruling.

  • Brandon Golway

    Hell, for $35, why not?

  • Design_Runner

    I would MUCH rather hope it has a built-in Chrome OS itself… not just another (of many) ways to send my cell phone screen to a TV. (I can already do that… and never really use it.)

    But as a Chrome OS device… it would be like having an *ADDITIONAL* device in my home… not just “another display for my existing cell phone.”

  • Design_Runner

    > It could plug in to any monitor or TV

    Any? Even the millions of TVs that don’t have HDMI connections? That’s an amazing device! That’s for the accurate reporting, droid-life!

  • MK17

    Can’t wait for this, but Google TV should hav had this from the very beginning. I still love and use my Google TV but I really wish it was still supported (or a better version was made)

  • r0lct

    It would appear Google TV is not making the progress they want and they need another more direct Apple TV competitor.

  • David Landry

    Why would I buy one of these over one of the many ~$40 dual core (4 core GPU) Android stick?

    http://www.geekbuying.com/item/Presell-Rikomagic-MK802-III-Dual-Core-Mini-Android-4-1-PC-RK3066-1-6Ghz-Cortex-A9-1GB-RAM-4G-ROM-HDMI—White-312231.html

    It’s a small dongle that runs Android 4.1/4.2, with USB, wifi, and bluetooth … run miracast and you have a Chromekey time a million.

    • r0lct

      I’ll wait for the reviews on both and see which produces the best experience. Since Mira cast has a smaller user base vs Chrome is (4.x+) I think it’s going to cover a lot more people.

    • Steve Benson

      For one, this dongle will never leave 4.1. Two, the interface is hideous and clumsy.

      With the rumored Chorme dongle, you’ll be able to push content from your phone onto your tv. You’ll have more flexibility than an Android “Stick.” Whatever OS your phone is running will be what’s displayed on your TV. Pair this with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you have a powerhouse Android computer…with limited real world use from a computer stand point, but as a multimedia center this would be awesome. Movies, music and games would be great.

  • Heon Jun Park

    Can’t I just hook up Raspberry pi to my TV….

  • Oliver

    Wifi Direct?

  • monk

    Ah one of the reasons i stuck with moto in the rzr hd maxx the hdmi mini. Mirrored screens are great, but for 35 i will gladly switch to wireless given it works atleast similar

  • Nihilist

    i’m in! when?

  • NoBullet

    I’d buy that in an instant.

  • Mchl496

    Don’t they already have devices that do this…?

  • Jeff Savage

    Why can’t it be powered from the hdmi port?

  • Pedro4Prez

    Shut Up And Take My Money!

  • Larry Bublitz

    Is there potential it could mirror games from a Nexus 7 so eventually one day I could mirror an emulator and play Ms. Pac-Man on the big screen? If so, this and a wired PS3 controller and #amhappy

  • morpheus282

    At $35, not only would every TV in my house have one but I would buy one to place on the grave of AppleTV. The only thing that could make this better is if Amazon instant video was supported on it.

    • Jay

      Well, I’d say

      • Jay

        Oops, sign in posted. Weird. Okay, so as I was saying, I’d say that you could do that just fine, as instant video works in a chrome browser, right? Or do you mean independently on the system? Probably need more power that way, and therefore need to cost more.

  • Kyle Cassidy

    So, it’s like Plex.

  • ddevito

    So….

    A $35 Chromekey will be smarter than a $2000 iTV from Apple?

    Brilliant!

    • Larizard

      OH wow, and there are 2 events counting down to next week on the chrome developers Youtube channel….

      Interesting……

      • ddevito

        One happened yesterday – you didn’t miss much. They explained the Roll It game in boring detail. THe technology is outstanding though.

  • ddevito

    Chrome is taking over the world.

    Hence my avatar ;-)

  • Matt

    F it, I’d pay $90 if I can control the dongle with my phone. I’d love to be able to wirelessly stream my phone to my TV.

  • Fred Gissubel

    I would then like the phone to have the primetime app. So it basically rolls Google TV into android.

    • ddevito

      Google TV is Android…..?

      • Fred Gissubel

        I know. I mean rolled into the android on the phone as an app. (Primetime). Instead of it being a separate thing.

    • Balthazar_B

      How would it do passthrough from a programming source? Primetime pretty much depends on having access to dozens or hundreds of content sources, most of which are, and are likely to remain — for better or worse — cable or satellite providers.

  • Leif Sikorski

    A simple miracast dongle would make more sense

    • ddevito

      why? The bridge between the two devices is chrome – which is Google’s lovetoy

      • Leif Sikorski

        Because Miracast just mirrors everything. It would always work without having developers to implement anything.

        Also Miracast is a new standard, so it’s getting into more and more devices. News TVs have it, new Blueray Players have it, all new phones have it, Windows 8.1 will support it and even the new xbox might support it.

        • ddevito

          This is more than just mirroring. You’ll be able to interact with the device using your other device – phone, tablet, computer, etc. This also opens the door to so many more devices, as all you need is Chrome. Many devices don’t support miracast.

          Miracast isn’t a has-been, it’s a never-was.

  • Shane Redman

    The nexusQ we all wanted?

  • Kiril Vatev

    Hopefully it will be accompanied by the 4.3 update, which will have full mirroring to these things. That could be neat.

    • ddevito

      The mirroring will be a chrome thing, independent of the OS. Google is stripping away OS-only features. Makes perfect sense

      • mx

        What if I want to mirror something not in Chrome? Then it starts to make sense to have it as an OS level feature.

  • nate

    If it could run xbmc, that would be truly amazing.

    • vic norman

      oh wow!!! true

    • ddevito

      Hopefully someone will hack this and make it happen. Good call. Cheers

    • Tim Hawkins

      If its an android device, then it will run plex, which is basicaly xbmc

      • nate

        The only thing is that i kind of need xbmc for it’s plugins. Unless plex has NPVR, I don’t think i could switch. It took me forever to find and configure a free live TV backend for my old computer that would allow me to watch TV on my phone, other pcs, laptop, etc. XBMC is android, too.

  • sbox

    ah, now g.co/racer and g.co/rollit makes sense

    • ddevito

      indeed.

  • duke69111

    Yes, Please! This would be so much easier than my mhl adapter + hdmi cable.

  • a.d.AM

    Oh yeah ill order this along with the 2nd generation nexus 7. In my dreams…

  • lgreg64

    this would be great if it let apps like TV Portal stream to it but since they removed the app from the play store i will bet they will not. i still want one.

  • ConCal

    I would get one for sure. $35? Take my money.

  • innoveight

    why not just make software we can install on our old android phone taking up drawer space (DroidX has hdmi out) that creates the connection. With an SD card, you could also have some cool handy 32GB storage as well.

    • ddevito

      don’t see the benefit…..

    • Alex Murphy

      Google isn’t interested in making products that appeal to 0.1% of users.

    • r0lct

      Your DX have 2 GB of RAM to run JB? Also think of the compatibility hell for updating the OS with all the different hardware (see phone updates).

      One device = instant updates. And for this segment that’s more useful than choice.

  • Qbancelli

    So it’ll cost half as much as the Nexus 4 wireless charger? I doubt it.

  • Jared

    VP8 is already available in Alpha form in the Chrome Dev for Mac. You can enable it by going into chrome://flags. I’m not sure what use it is right now, but It’s definitely there.

  • justjmatt

    I would definitely be interested in this. If it really works as it does, it could bridge the gap between a “smart” and “dumb” TV.

    • ddevito

      This is smarter than a smart TV as your phone (which is replaced every 2 years – or for readers of this site, every 6 months) is the brains, and smartphones are smarter than Smart TVs.

  • The Gooch

    What ever happened to Miracast?

    • Blue Sun

      Who?

    • neastws

      This is hardware agnostic

  • kashtrey

    It’s cool that they’re producing this but I sure hope the functionality is being rolled into Google TV. I mean this should be something that was included in GTV for a long time to compete with AirPlay. Miracast is great and all but requires compatible hardware on both ends, this seems like all you need is a Chrome browser (on any device) and something with the software attached to your TV.

  • Matthew

    Yes!!!For My Nexus7

  • Kenny Larson

    Want now. Buy now.

  • Mr E

    This may sound ridiculous to most here, but it could be a cool feature to be able to stream from one ChromeKey to another. Basically, I’m imagining plugging one into the back of a blu-ray player, then the other into my dumb TV (a la wireless HDMI).

    I have my TV wall mounted with my components on the wall behind it, but alas no room for a blu-ray player. The above would save me from hacking into my drywall. There are other wireless HDMI solutions, but they’re not cheap.

    • JMonkeYJ

      interesting idea…i hope it’s flexible enough to do stuff like this

  • EatUrCrap

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but, what’s a dongle…?

    • Mr E

      It generally refers to a small piece of hardware that you plugin as an accessory to unlock/add features.

      • Kyle

        For example: the little USB sticks you put into USB ports on a computer for a wireless mouse.

        • Mr E
          • Blue Sun

            I thought “Dongle” was Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm’s nick name.

          • HarleyGuy72

            I’ll have what you are having…cheers!

  • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

    Im assuming you would use a wifi network to connect the phone with the dongle. It would be nice to just rely on blue tooth from phone to dongle.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      It connects to your local WiFi, which is used to connect your phone, tablet, or computer to it.

      • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

        Yeah thats what I figured. That kind of sucks IMO having to rely on a wifi network. Im not sure what the limitations of Blue tooth are, just seems like it would be easier to share that way. Its like samsungs share shot where everyone has to be connected to the same wifi connection. If you could just share phone to phone or phone to dongle in this case it would be pretty seamless.

        • Mr E

          Bluetooth does tend to have some range and speed/bandwidth limitations, not to mention some slight wonkiness in almost every device I’ve used. That’s not saying wifi is perfect, but generally more stable for something like this. I’m not even sure bluetooth can handle video.

          • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

            How about you suck my pussSy# and get an iphone?

        • duke69111

          Phone to Dongle would be best.

        • ddevito

          It works better on WiFi if you have multiple devices that aren’t necessarily that close to one another.

        • iYam

          Well I have good news for you son.

          WiFi doesn’t necesseraly mean Internet. WiFi is just a way to communicate wirelessly.

          Miracast is based on Wi-Fi Direct which doesnt require a wireless access point (local WiFi). It basically means it will work exactly like bluethooth, if not better.

          Quote from Wi-Fi.Org:
          “Miracast allows users to establish a direct Wi-Fi connection between two devices, eliminating the need for an existing network.”

          Just look Miracast up. It’s an awesome implementation of Wi-Fi Direct in my opinion.

          As for the Chromekey. I expect it to work just as all Miracast keys. Simply connect it, it will wait for a Wi-Fi tether from your device (say, Nexus 4) and in Display > Wireless Display in Android 4.2 select the screen through Wi-Fi. You DON’T need existing Wi-Fi connection or a connection to the Internet itself.

          • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

            Who said WiFi meant internet?

  • starnovsky

    Y U NOT ANDROID?!

    • Jonathan Hayes

      If u want easy android on your tv, look on amazon for the tronsmart t428

      • starnovsky

        Reviews on Amazon are not that awesome. And I understand why, this thing is coming from a small no-name Chinese company, so no surprise why software is buggy. I’m sure you can get it to work after digging on forums and flashing a few ROMs, but I’m tired of it. If only Google would release Nexus HDMI stick…

    • ddevito

      Because Google’s future is Chrome

  • Bionic_Pags

    How is this different/better than using the micro HDMI on my Bionic?

    • Mr E

      the main thing that comes to mind is not being tethered to your tv with a wire

    • JMonkeYJ

      sounds like any device that has chrome will be able to stream to it, so it opens up a wide range of devices that can connect.

    • primarchlion

      When I move on from my Bionic someday that’s what I’ll do. Tether it to my TV permanently and use my bluetooth keyboard and mouse to control. Thanks for the idea.

    • ddevito

      Because….

      1. it’s wireless
      2. it’s chrome – so it’s OS, device and platform independent
      3. Chrome is Google’s development platform that they control 100%

  • Jonathan Hayes

    I was expecting something cool till i got half way down the article.. Bleh. If you’re looking for a nice google/android experience, i’d go with the Tronsmart T428.. look it up on amazon.. i’ve compared specs to MANY hdmi mini pc devices similar to it, and the T428 takes the cake so far..

    • Npompei

      So wait, you would spend $75 more on something that is nearly the same? To me this chromakey or whatever the hell sounds awesome. We have been clamoring for mirroring capabilities in our phones and now we can basically have it and we complain?! For $35 Jesus people that’s incredible.

      The Bionic guy above had me lol. “why tether my phone to my tv with a 15′ chord” haha hahahahahaha.

    • ddevito

      Your phone won’t be able to (easily) interact with the TV-connected dongle. You’re going to spend $75 on something that WON’T interact with your phone at all.

      Yeah that makes sense :-/

  • Adam Neighbors

    This might be interesting if it can be controlled by my phone/tablet. For that price I’d be very interested.

  • JMonkeYJ

    at $35 i would definitely get one. it would be great for playing streaming video to my living room TV for services that don’t have apps (NBA’s TNT OverTime being a notable and timely example). i hope it’s true!

    • blah

      Keep in mind that you sometimes are limited with what you can show on a second monitor. Brighthouse Cable TV app (which is the same as the Time Warner Cable app) won’t let you go onto a second screen when using an MHL adapter. Assume that this would follow the same rules and regulations,unless if you could find a way around it (which I’m sure there is).

    • heather radnor

      This Adapter’s Already Available to Buy… it’s called the CloudNetGo Miracast-HD Wireless adapter — priced at $45 at a site called T ab l e t S p r i n t– and became available last week… does the exact same thing and more….

      • jasonwithers10k

        I checked it out, pretty cool. This site also has a few new Android tablet models with impressive features and lows prices

    • https://www.facebook.com/aaron.williams.125 Champion1229

      If they release it for $35 they will DEFINITELY take away the thunder from the Apple TV (which is respectively priced at $99 and it doesn’t even come close to having a browser or Android capabilities).

      • mx

        Except Apple TV lets you mirror the complete display of an iOS device. It is not limited to a couple of specific apps like this is.

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  • Mr E

    this could be very cool. i’ve been interested in those android tv dongles, but there always seem to be little caveats about things that don’t work, or don’t work well. if nothing else, it probably can’t hurt to have a big-name player (THE big name) get into the game