Chromecast Review (Newest Model): The Techie And User Consensus
Chromecast In Brief
Chromecast is a media streaming device made by Google. It’s a small “dongle” or “puck” that plugs directly into the HDMI port of an HDTV. Chromecast lets users cast online videos, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and many other things on the web onto a TV for big-screen viewing. Chromecast 2 launched in the fall of 2015, replacing the prior generation device. (Looking for the older version? Click here.) Cost: $35.
Chromecast 2 Review
The wTVPC Cord Cutters Club™ performed a meta-review of Chromecast, 2nd Generation. We looked at Chromecast reviews from NINE SEPARATE SOURCES—all of them respected names in the tech industry—and compiled the results. Here’s what we found.
Reviews analyzed: CNET, Engadget, PC Advisor, PC Mag, TechCrunch, Tech Radar, Know Your Mobile, Digital Trends, and Tom’s Guide, plus Best Buy Customer Reviews (Note: Chromecast 2 is not available on Amazon.com)
Average Critic Rating: 4.5/5 STARS
Best Buy Customer Reviews: 4.6/5 (Under 1,000 reviews)
+ Super easy to set up and use
+ Low cost
+ Nearly seamless streaming with minimal lagging and buffering hassles
+ Vast and ever-growing selection of content and apps (Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO, Showtime, lots of popular sports channels)
+ Doesn’t drain device batteries, or hijack devices while streaming — Chromecast does the work of streaming, so you can still use your phone or tablet for whatever you want while it’s working
+ Unobtrusive — you don’t have another box sitting on your TV
+ Best quote: “Even if you’re already committed to another streamer, the Chromecast’s new app alone makes picking one up well worth the 35 bucks.” –Ryan Waniata, Digital Trends
— No remote control; instead requires a smartphone, tablet or (less recommended) a computer for it to work
— Doesn’t support Amazon Video
— Poor integration with home theater systems — you still need to use a separate remote to control AVI options while using a device as the Chromecast remote
— Limited selection of games
— Best quote: “As much as I love the new Chromecast, it may not be worth replacing an existing old Chromecast if you already own one.” –Nick Pino, TechRadar
wTVPC’s Bottom Line: Not much has changed compared to the original Chromecast device. Chromecast 2 is one of the best media streaming devices on the market and well worth its $30-35 price tag. If you already have the prior model, upgrading probably isn’t worth it, unless you’re experiencing a lot of buffering frustrations. For new customers, Chromecast 2 is a great buy.
It’s practically “dummy-proof” and truly makes streaming TV shows, movies and more onto a TV simple, affordable, and no-fuss. The list of supported apps and channels is constantly growing. This new generation is a bit faster and smoother than the prior, offering fewer buffering issues. However, if you don’t have a mobile device, or don’t want to use it as your media command center, Chromecast isn’t the best choice. Look for a standalone stick like the Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick instead.
Chromecast 2’s Features
Chromecast 2 offers tons of versatility and flexibility for such a small stick. In addition to streaming (or “casting”) online videos and content onto a TV, it will cast your personal photos, videos, and more onto the big screen. Chromecast 2 also mirrors webpages, projecting them onto a TV.
Chromecast 2 is also one of the fastest media streaming devices on the market, which is especially remarkable considering it’s up against set-top boxes. The streaming experience is incredibly smooth, and only rarely is there a lag or a buffering problem.
The new “fast play” feature eliminates the load time before each video or TV episode. It uses an algorithm to predict what you’ll want to watch next and starts the buffering process before you even select it.
The new Chromecast app enables universal search. That means when you search for a TV show, Chromecast 2 will pull up every available source for that show (Netflix, Hulu, etc.).
Universal search is becoming a must-have feature, as more streaming services and channels become available. Without it, users have to comb through individual services to compare content prices and availability.
Using Chromecast 2 with a smartphone or tablet turns the device into a remote that you can use to pause, rewind, fast-forward, adjust the volume and etc. Plus, you can still use the device to take calls, surf the web, or whatever. Chromecast takes over the work of streaming, so devices aren’t hijacked or drained of battery power.
Chromecast can be transferred to any TV in the house—or even outside the house with someone else’s TV. That makes it a great option for people who need a highly portable media streaming device.
Chromecast has 2 HDMI ports, a USB port, and built-in WiFi. It comes with an HDMI extender (very handy if you have a wall-mounted TV), USB cable if you want to use your TV’s USB port as the power source, and power adapter if you want to power Chromecast from a wall socket. You’ll need to use a separate device as the remote.
Chromecast’s Compatible Services & Devices
Chromecast works with just about every streaming service and mobile device.
Compatible services: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, Google Music, Pandora, and more. With a workaround, it does also support Amazon Prime Video. In fact, there are now hundreds of apps available that work with Chromecast, including HBO GO, WatchESPN, and Showtime Anytime. See the full list of compatible Chromecast 2 apps.
Compatible devices: Chromecast 2 can stream content from Android and iOS phones and tablets, Chromebooks, and Windows and Mac computers via the (free) Chrome browser
Chromecast 2 Demo
A demo is worth a thousand words. Here’s a great hands-on look at Chromecast 2 from the pros at DetroitBORG.
WATCH: Chromecast 2 Unboxing & Review