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I'm really disappointed that Google has decided to do this. I've been using these all over my house for a couple of years now and, at least for Google Play Music and Tune-In Radio, they work really well. When the price dropped recently, and there was speculation they would be discontinued, I bought another four of them for my own use and for gifts.

They're not really comparable to Bluetooth receivers. The killer feature is synchronized multi-room audio without paying exorbitant prices for proprietary speakers (Sonos I'm looking at you...). I have them hooked up to powered speakers (PC 2.1 style) in the bedroom and bathroom, a mini-stereo on the deck, a ghetto blaster in my workshop and my media room AV amplifier. For parties it's fantastic to have seamless audio around the whole house.

I have to wonder why Google did this. It seems like a strategic move to push people towards their "smart" speakers. Personally I really don't want something with a microphone in it, just good quality sound at a good price. Very sad.

By the way, it's easy to cast audio only from YouTube or any other app - just go to the Google Home app and cast your phone's audio to the device or group.

The other incomparable feature is wifi casting vs bluetooth streaming. You can pick a playlist/album from your phone, hit cast, and ship your phone off to Alpha Centauri without the music disconnecting. Much less battery drain than Bluetooth, and higher quality audio regardless of if you're taking advantage of the optical output to a high-end DAC.

My only gripe is that sometimes you can keep your phone in your pocket and use the volume buttons to adjust the casted volume, and sometimes it doesn't work. Might be an iOS thing though.

Or people just opted for speakers with Chromecast Audio built in than messing with the dongle. There's a ton of cast-enabled speakers on the market and the volume control experience is much better with them, too. There's also an awful lot of cast-enabled receivers on the market as well if you want to drive your own speakers.

As strategic as it seems, they probably just didn’t sell well enough to justify continued effort.

Also purchasing a gift when it’s price is slashed due to it probably being discontinued is.. risky to say the least.

How is that risky? They're discontinuing the hardware, casting isn't going anywhere. Unless you're one of those people that would be offended by someone getting your gift on sale.

I agree. It's probably because sales were trending down.

That said, nothing stops another company from stepping in and taking a license for a smart speaker without neither the microphone nor the speaker, in a tiny form factor...

> That said, nothing stops another company from stepping in and taking a license for a smart speaker without neither the microphone nor the speaker, in a tiny form factor

There's already a bunch of audio-only Cast-enabled products without a microphone. There's no need to license google assistant just to get cast. Speakers & receivers with cast built-in has been a thing for a few years now. The dongle was just an upgrade path while the broader ecosystem built up.

Sorry, I was being silly and I really meant Cast speaker, which is what a stripped down smart speaker is. AFAIK you still need a license or at least some help from Google to get that working, since the protocols are proprietary.

I can easily see them discontinuing them in favor of releasing an updated version of the Google Home mini with stereo out.

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