First impressions: Chromecast (2015)
After work everyday I sit in my living room the first thing I do is flick on my TV and load up my Chromecast. I’ll queue up a few videos up on YouTube and have them cast right onto my HDTV.
When the original Chromecast released in 2013 it helped regular TV owners get over their smart TV envy. Quick HD streaming from my favourite online sources? Yes, please. Even with smart TVs becoming more common the Chromecast is still a top contender among media streamers.
During this year’s Nexus Event the search engine giant announced a successor its beloved streaming dongle. Just like the original the new Chromecast is still an HDMI dongle that plugs into your television allowing you to stream or mirror content from compatible smartphone, tablet or computer. Visually, the 2015 Chromecast comes with a new form-factor and three different colors – black, coral and lemonade. Lets be honest though, no matter what color you get you’l probably won’t to see it after it’s been plugged in and running.
My biggest gripe with the original Chromecast was speed. Luckily, the upgraded device has a faster processor and supports modern Wi-Fi streaming standards (802.11ac, 5Ghz). Beyond that, the new Chromecast actually has three antennas which are laid out for better connectivity. Although your smartphone might be telling the Chromecast where to look, the device actually pulls content directly from the web instead of through your device, which of course is why strong connectivity is crucial. The setup was just as easy as it was for its predecessor, but it seemed a lot quicker this time around. Casting YouTube and Netflix was a lot snappier and carrying out actions like pausing or jumping to through scenes felt instant. Little to no lag plays a huge role for the end user experience.
A notable new addition is “Fast Play”, which enables the device to fetch video content (like YouTube or Netflix) before you choose to hit play. This of course leads to a much more stable experience during watching as your Chromecast won’t be trying to catch up in real time as its playing.
Additionally, the upgraded Wi-Fi antennas also offer a smoother experience while gaming. Although the Chromecast has supported games for a while Google intends to step things up a notch by offering games from notable studios built to cater the Chromecast.
The one thing missing from the 2015 Chromecast (for now) is 4K UHD streaming. Considering the lack of available 4k content I’m not entirely surprised but having that functionality would of helped the Chromecast be a little more future friendly. Even with that little hurdle I think the 2015 Chromecast is worth picking up. If you have the original it might be time to retire it to the spare room in your house.