Shop for Google Chromecast (2018)

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Google's Chromecast is one of the cheapest, most popular streaming devices, but hasn't been updated since 2015.

Today that changes. Google's 2018 version Chromecast is official, and available now in black or white for $35.

So what's different? The finish is matte instead of glossy, with more rounded edges. Google says the hardware speed is fifteen percent faster, which could improve smoothness 1080p/60 video streaming. Otherwise it's basically the same. 

A couple of software additions are coming to both new and earlier Chromecast devices. The new Live Albums feature for promises to better organize Google Photos using AI, and it works with images Chromecast puts on your TV. Multi-room audio is coming later this year as well, allowing you to "add Chromecast to speaker groups, so you can listen to your music in sync throughout the house" according to Google.

Just like the original, Chromecast is a device that lets you stream video from apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO Now and thousands of other services to your TV. It's a little round puck with an attached HDMI cable, designed hide out of sight. There's no remote, so you use your phone to control it. 

Now playing: Watch this: 5 helpful Chromecast tips and tricks

Compatible apps on your phone have a "Cast" button you press to connect wirelessly to the Chromecast, which then puts the video on the big screen. You use your phone to browse, pause, skip and do everything else you would with a normal remote. You can also control many apps via voice command if you have a Google Home speaker.

In my review of the original I liked its flexibility and low price, but found the lack of a remote and true big-screen user interface a disadvantage compared to competitors like the Roku Express ($30) and Amazon Fire TV Stick ($40). 

Originally this article said the 2015 Chromecast lacked 5GHz wi-fi network support, but that was incorrect. Both the 2015 and 2018 versions support 5GHz networks.

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