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Google's cheap new Chromecast dongle torn down by iFixit

It's a good thing the teardown artists at iFixit managed to get their seam-popping tools on Google's new Chromecast dongle before the $35 (£23) media-streaming stick sold out and took a very limited-time free Netflix promotion with it.

Now we know how the search giant managed to "squeeze so many cats into one small package," as iFixit put it in its freshly-released Chromecast teardown report.

Google's sold-out dongle lets you stream media from Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play to a HDTV screen through your smartphone, tablet, or notebook.

The Chromecast is a little flash drive-sized stick with a 1080p HDMI output on one end that plugs into a HDTV and a power input on the other end. It provides juice via a USB charging cable provided by Google (a USB adapter also comes inside the Chromecast box). There's a little button you push to reconfigure the settings back to the factory default and an LED that lights up when it's in use.

And that's it. The iFixit crew, of course, is never content at gazing at the outside of a device, so they broke out their special plastic opening tool to prise open the Chromecast at the seam on its side.

Inside they found a tiny logic board encased in "a big hunk of aluminum heat sink." That's a relative term of course, the heat sink for this 2in unit is only "big" in terms of how much of the Chromecast's insides it occupies. Google warns that the Chromecast "may get hot to the touch; this is normal." iFixit, on the other hand, says this is "disconcerting.".

Here are the chips the teardown team found on the Chromecast's very sparse motherboard assembly:

  • An AzureWave AW-NH387 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM combo module (outlined in red in the picture above)

  • A Marvell DE3005-A1 System-on-a-Chip (outlined in orange)

  • 4GB of Micron MT29F16G08MAA 16Gb NAND Flash memory (outlined in yellow)

  • 512MB of low-voltage Micron D9PXV DDR3L SDRAM (outlined in green)

Unlike the site's reports on most mobile devices and PCs, the Chromecast teardown doesn't include a repairability score, which makes sense — you're not going to be replacing or upgrading any parts in this tiny dongle. And at just £23 a pop, why bother?

"There's just nothing in it to repair. The Chromecast is essentially a luxury item with a limited use," iFixit explained.