Chromecast video on UK, Euro TVs hertz so badly it makes us judder – but Google 'won't fix'

'Very hard' problem, devs claim

Google disappointed fans of its priced-like-a-pizza Chromecast TV dongle this week, when it said it won't be fixing an annoying video quirk that has some European customers' eyes twitching.

The Chromecast, which lets users stream online content to their TVs while using their PCs and mobile devices as controllers, first went on sale in the UK and Europe in March, after launching in the US in July 2013.

But it wasn't long before some eagle-eyed Europeans started noticing an irksome problem: most video content in Europe is delivered at either 50 or 25 frames per second, but the Chromecast is hard-wired to send video over its HDMI port at a refresh rate of 60Hz, rather than the European standard of 50Hz.

Because neither 50 nor 25 divides evenly into 60, the result is a mismatch phenomenon known in video parlance as "judder," where some frames are displayed for longer than others, resulting in a jittery picture.

The same can happen when watching content that was originally filmed for the cinema, which typically plays at 24 frames per second. The slight judder at 50Hz isn't so noticeable, but at 60Hz it can become pronounced, particularly during fast camera movements.

Users who filed bug reports about the issue described their Chromecasts in terms ranging from "very distracting" to "basically useless."

If some of this sounds familiar, it may be because Brit and Euro users of Microsoft's Xbox One noticed a similar issue. But while Redmond eventually pushed out a firmware update that let customers switch their consoles to outputting 50Hz, Google says it has no plans to do the same for Chromecast.

"Chromecast cannot attempt to handle changes in HDMI refresh rates since it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate," a Chromecast engineer posted to the bug tracker on Tuesday. "Blu-ray players can handle this issue because discs have extra metadata that would allow players to output at the most suitable rate. This is very hard to pull off with streaming content."

The original bug report has now been tagged "WontFix" – which means what it sounds like – sparking rage in customers who feel that even £30 is too much to pay for a streaming device that can't stream smoothly.

"Even the Chinese Android TV sticks can change refresh rates," fumed one bemused buyer. "That Google could not get it to work would be astonishing."

It seems, however, that any further such complaints will fall on deaf ears. Google is taking on telly in a bigger way with the launch of the Android TV platform, and it may be that Chromecast's engineering lifecycle has run its course. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022