- Wide range of apps
- Support for dual-band WiFi (finally)
- Cheap and cheerful
- No support for 4K
The new 2015 edition of Chromecast, Google’s uber-cheap TV streaming stick is here. We’ve got one and we’ve spent a bit of time getting to know it.
Ahead of our full review, where we’ll look at this alongside the original Chromecast in more detail, check out our initial hands-on review for our early thoughts.
Chromecast (2015) Design: A dayglo hockey puck
A Chromecast is a little device that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV set and acts as a wireless bridge between your phone or tablet and your big screen.
Apps like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Now TV and BT Sport are Chromecast-compatible which means if you can find some video content on your phone, you’ll be able to watch it on your TV.
It’s a great solution for folks who don’t have a smart TV yet and an easy way to quickly share YouTube content with friends and family. There’s also a smattering of Chromecast-compatible games available, (frankly, none of them are really that great) and if you’ve got an Android device, you’ve got the option of enabling screen mirroring, which is an easy way for you to share photos snapped on your phone.
Check out our video review of the original Chromecast below for a better idea of how this all works.
Related: Chromecast Tips and TricksAs you can see from our main picture above, the new-look Chromecast is a colourful little beast. The USB stick-stylings of old are gone; enter a brash, colourful hockey puck complete with the circular Chrome logo.
This 49mm diameter disc is available to snap up in three shades, ‘coral’, ‘lemonade’ - red and yellow to you and me - and, er, ‘black’.
While primarily this is great news for people who like to spend time looking at the back of their TV, it’s a signal that Google recognises that Chromecast has been a hit with buyers and is a desirable item. It’s nice to see they’ve bothered spending time on its looks.
More importantly, this colourful shell houses more advanced gubbins than its predecessor. We’ll get on to those in a second, but before that, let’s take a quick look at the set-up process.
Chromecast (2015) Set-up: As easy as sneezing off a log
Setting up Chromecast is dead simple. Download the Chromecast app on your phone or tablet, and make sure you’re connected to WiFi.
Plug the Chromecast in to your TV set, connect the mains adapter (or plug it into a spare USB port on your TV if you want to draw power that way) and hop over to the relevant HDMI channel on your TV remote.
You’ll need to enter the WiFi password of your home network, which you’ll be able to do from the app.
The entire set-up process takes place on the app, which guides you through every relevant step, so it’s impossible to get lost or screw this up - it took us just under ten minutes to get up and running.
Chromecast (2015) Specifications: Dual-band (and about bloody time)
Instead of having a solitary, single band WiFi antenna, the 2015 edition of Chromecast comes with three radios, allowing for more stable streams. It also (finally) supports dual-band technology, meaning devices with a 5GHz aerial can cast content using that less-congested frequency.
In layman’s terms, this means Full HD 1080p streams from mobiles will be more reliable than in the past. Casting from Google Chrome tabs remains capped at 720p HD, which is no improvement from about a year ago.
We were pleased to see that Android screen mirroring works just as well, allowing us to recreate the Being John Malkovich hyper-selfie from last year.
Other than that, there’s not much that’s different from the original Chromecast in terms of what it can do.
Sadly, there’s no support for 4K streams yet, which is a shame given the price of some 4K tellies these days and the growing number of phones hitting the markets that can record 4K video.
Then again, it’s a cheap and cheerful device - if you want a Cast-compatible device that kicks of Ultra HD video, then there’s always Nvidia’s Shield TV which will set you back £149.
Chromecast (2015) apps: BBC iPlayer, Netflix and many more
Google lists 30+ TV and on-demand apps on its site as working with Chromecast. We've rounded up the best of them here, but wanted to draw attention to the recently updated Chromecast apps themselves.
As well as being a mandatory download for getting set up, this app now groups all of the Chromecast-compatible services together in one place. Thie saves you from having to create a folder on your home page and thanks to the 'Get Apps' tab up on the right, it's now even easier to search for Chromecast-ready apps in iTunes and Google Play. Which is very handy.
Chromecast (2015) UK Price: Thirty squid
Speaking of which, the new Chromecast will cost you £30 of the Queen’s money. It’s available to buy now directly from Google or Currys PC World.
It’ll be coming to Argos, John Lewis and Tesco soon, but the lemon and coral colours are currently exclusive to Google.
Chromecast (2015) Verdict: Reinventing the wheel
Chromecast remains one of the easiest and best ways to get content that’s available on your phone to your TV screen. If you're in any way bothered about streaming content on your TV, you should think about getting one.
It has the effect of turning your phone into a magic remote control. Using a phone to discover content feels as naturally and effortless as hunting and pecking through a boring smart TV menus isn’t.
The new Chromecast does exactly what the original did, only with more style and finesse.There’s nothing new about the new Chromecast that makes it superior to the original. It’s a little faster to get content streaming on your TV, but it’s not like it was especially slow before.
Folks in busy households where that 2.4GHz WiFi band is congested with traffic from a million other services will definitely appreciate the extra antennas and support for dual-band here.
If you've got a Netflix account, it's an essential purchase - if you don't use Netflix, then there's a good amount of apps and services out there, more than when Chromecast launched originally, so you’re spoilt of choice in terms of content.
- iOS, Android