Qualcomm has a plan to liberate 4K video from high-end smartphones, and it involves a Chromecast-like prototype TV dongle.
The prototype was revealed at a Qualcomm industry event, where it was spotted by analyst Patrick Moorhead. In an e-mail, Moorhead said he expects Qualcomm to offer the design to manufacturers, in hopes of having them build their own 4K streaming devices.
Qualcomm primarily sees the device as a way for users to beam homemade 4K video to their televisions, but it could eventually be used to stream 4K content from online sources such as Netflix. The dongle could also double as a wireless dock for phones and tablets, mirroring the display onto the big screen.
The prototype dongle is based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, but doesn't require a Snapdragon-based phone or tablet on the other end. It uses the basic Universal Plug and Play protocol to connect with other devices, and Qualcomm is working on supplementary software to let the dongle work with existing Android media players such as BubbleUPnP, VLC and MXPlayer.
In a e-mail to PCWorld, Qualcomm confirmed that the device was “for demonstration purposes only at this time,” but was a little more vague about its exact plans. “Qualcomm is currently working with hardware OEM/ODM and software partners to help deliver 4K streaming between smartphones and tablets, and 4K TVs,” the company said in an e-mail.
Why this matters: While 4K video capture is available on recent Android phones such as Samsung's Galaxy S5 and LG's G3, getting those videos onto a 4K television can be a hassle. In most cases, you need to physically connect the phone to the television via USB, which isn't exactly convenient when you're lounging on the couch. A streaming dongle could be compelling, but only if the product has lots of other useful video services on board. It seems much more likely that we'll just see this capability baked right into future 4K televisions.