Have a spare 30-odd bucks to spend on a media streamer? The world is your oyster, friend. The budget streaming market is packed with great choices that offer simple on-screen TV menus, hassle-free access to Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube and dedicated remote controls with voice. And then there's the Google Chromecast.
The newest Chromecast is such a minor update to theit barely qualifies as "new." The only upgrade is a claimed 15 per cent increase in hardware speed and slightly different cosmetics. It's definitely not enough to get current Chromecast owners to replace their streamers.
At its recent hardware event, Google announced a number of different products, including the Pixel 3 phone and the , but the company didn't mention Chromecast at all. Maybe that's because the 2018 Chromecast isn't as good as the competition.
Theand both cost $5 less than the Chromecast and are better streamers overall. A big reason is because they include actual remotes and onscreen menus, while the Chromecast relies on your phone to control everything. Google Cast might have seemed futuristic when the first Chromecast was introduced six years ago, but even then it was less convenient than a dedicated remote.
The Chromecast attaches to your TV via a flexible 2-inch HDMI connector. It hides there, typically out of sight. Video output is standard 1080p HD only; to get 4K HDR, you'll need to go with the $70 or the (better and cheaper) or .
The dongle receives power via a micro USB port -- which connects to either a USB slot on your TV or, even better, the included power adapter. The cosmetics are the biggest change from the previous version, as the grooved "7-inch record and adapter" appearance is now gone. Now there's a smooth white or black finish. Also gone is the magnetic clasp that held the connector to the body of the device when not in use.
To use the Chromecast you need a compatible iOS or Android device, typically a phone or tablet, or a computer with the Chrome browser. Just about every major mobile app is compatible, including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Now, CBS, YouTube Kids and Starz. To stream content to the Chromecast you press the "Cast" button within the supported app on your phone, choose the Chromecast, and a few seconds later your video starts playing. You control everything using the app.
Unfortunately, the Amazon Prime Video app doesn't support Chromecast, so you can't stream those videos to your TV using the device. Every other streaming platform includes Amazon, and since it's an exceedingly popular video service, its omission from Chromecast is a major knock.
Setup involves installing the Google Home app -- originally called Chromecast. The new app makes setting up the Chromecast easier than before. Assuming your phone and the Chromecast are on the same Wi-Fi network, just press the Add button on the front page once your Chromecast is connected and follow the prompts.