To be noted, that with the release of Chromecast 2, google has decided to also release an audio only version of it. And while this review is only for the video one, it does not mean that Chromecast video cannot be used for streaming audio only, which I do by using my setup of Synology NAS to Chromecast, to TV, to audio Hi-Fi reciever via optic, which I’ll describe in a later post. One potential drawback of this, is that you cannot use the TV for something else, like news for example, while you’re listening to music. And I guess it has to stay on, for the sound decoding to the amp to happen.
Chromecast 2 price:
The price was really as advertised: 35$ (plus taxes) as I bought it from Best Buy downtown. Couldn’t spot the original version in the store though as I was kind of in a rush (to bed, as I was incredibly jetlagged) but on Amazon however, the price for Chromecast 1 lists 10 bucks cheaper. Now let’s see if and how the new one is really worth the 10 extra dollars.
As the device is so small I’m struggling to decide whether the design has changed a bit or substantially 🙂
The biggest change in design is moving from the dongle type design Chromecast 1 was having to a… ahem, peripheral type design, if I may say so, that’s present in the new Chromecast 2. That means that now the device is not hard cased (completely anymore) but has a small HDMI ribbon attached to it. You can better see the exact difference in the picture below. This gives a little more flexibility (literally) and helps when you either need to frequently mount and unmount the device on a TV set that makes itself harder to access (like my bedroom one which is mounted on a fixed TV wall mount) or if there’s hardly enough room because of the TV’s design, positioning, etc. The new connector is clearly thinner than the previous device, so this may help, or you can easily bend the ribbon in case there’s not enough room to plug the dongle directly in. I’m assuming that there are this type of problems out there, as, per the previous version I noticed a lot of people on amazon buying short extension cords, or “L type” HDMI connectors. Not to worry about these anymore with the ribbon design, so a clear win here.
Another aspect in terms of design is that the main device is now round. Hardly noticeable if you hide the device behind the TV like I do.
Still one button on the side (which I’ve yet to completely understand its function), still one LED which lights either red or white.
One more thing to mention is that with version 2 of the video Chromecast you can choose between 3 color accents (black, like mine, some lemon type and… Orange?). However, the latter two are only available if you buy directly from the Google store. I doubt however that this would really matter to anyone, unless you want to expose the device which I’m not sure why you would.
One thing which is clearly poorer on the newly released version is the box. Chromecast version one, came in a really nice, glossy, apple like box, that you would have a hard time throwing away. Also thinner, more slick, with clearly a lot more attention put to it. The new box is thicker, (apparently) made out of recycled cardboard, which clearly belongs to the bin after unwrapping (unless you plan on selling the device later, like a couple of folks I know – hopefully not as new 🙂
You can also see the above for yourself by checking the pictures below:
Features on both appear pretty similar, especially at the moment of this writing, as the old one still gets the new software updates, so literally, except for appearance, you see no difference in how these devices operate.
The biggest change however is the addition of wireless AC support in Chomecast 2, which for me is a big advantage. Don’t get me wrong, Chromecast 1 does really well in streaming 1080p content via wireless N, as I’ve tried it many times. But AC really seems like the natural upgrade, especially if google will be planning an upgrade to 4K streaming through a later software update.
It really isn’t much to say here. Both devices operate seemingly and seamlessly. You unbox it, hook it up to your TV and plug it in (via the supplied AC adapter, or in a USB port of your TV – as it needs some power to operate. Note that not all TV’s will work, as they’ll need to supply a rather high current).
Then you download and install the Chromecast app, which works really well on PCs, Android and iOS, and the app does the rest: it detects the Chromecast, and lets you install it. You only need to remember your wi-fi password as you need to enter it for the Chromecast to be able to connect to wi-fi.
Like previously stated, there’s a button and an LED indicator, which I haven’t (yet) managed to fully understand. The LED seems to stay red only immediately after plugging in. The remaining time will turn to which, which appears to indicate that it’s operating. I haven’t found a way to turn it off though, which could be a percieved disadvantage to some, as the device seems to be alive and to download some content, albeit minimal (like backdrop pictures, and potentially weather info) from the internet, even when the TV is off. Starting to cast, it does provide the TV with an HDMI signal which allows it to turn itself on or switch the the right source
So having said this, and taking a look (maybe superficial for some) into the most apparent differences between the two versions of Chomecast, is it worth spending the extra bucks and getting the new version, or you’ll be fine with Chromecast 1 for now if you can still find it and / or you get a good deal for it?
Of course, being a new device, that alone would make for the extra 10$ for me. So unless you really are the kind of a late adopter being afraid to embrace new technology before it is rightfully tested (by others) or if you live in a market where the price difference isn’t that cheap however, you’d probably wanna go for the new version just for the fact that it’s new.
If you can’t get your hands on Chromecast 2 for a series of reasons like: not releaed yet in your area, or a much bigger price difference (i’ve seen it go almost double in certain markets where the new one hasn’t been officially released) then go wholeheartedly for version 1. It does the same thing, works just as well, you don’t see the design difference if you’re like me and hide it behind your big screen. The only notable difference, as said is the addition of wireless AC support, which for now is not of great help. Maybe it will come in handy later, as streaming requirements will become increasingly more demanding.