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Chromecast (2015) Review

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This is one of the easiest reviews to write—and the shortest, too. If you own an Android or iOS device, buy the new Chromecast. Nothing more needs to be said, but I am obliged because you do want to know why. Right?

Google opened up the streaming stick category with launch of the original Chromecast, in July 2013. Release of its successor, on Sept. 29, 2015, makes an already compelling platform better. I see two benefits that matter: WiFi AC support and the hanging dongle design. Wireless update primps the device for faster routers, like Google’s own OnHub. The other is more crucial. Some people needing or wanting to plug into one of a TV’s rear HDMI ports may find the original Chromecast won’t fit. The new design, puck hanging from HDMI cable, solves that problem. 

These two benefits are reason enough for existing Chromecast owners to upgrade—and easy for me to suggest, given the price. Like the original, the streaming device sells for $35. For less than the cost of pizza and beers for your movie or TV watching crew, you can buy the new Chromecast.

That said, if you’re super satisfied with the one you’ve got, the original is good, too—and I don’t need tell you why. You know. The platform of supported apps is enormous. Apple TV can’t compete, and I refer to the new model about to release. Look at the list of castable apps for yourself. Simple rule, and granted not universally, if you can run the entertainment app on Android or iOS device you probably can cast it.

That’s the simplicity of the Chromecast platform. Your familiar mobile, from which you may engage other people or information while watching the boob tube, is the remote control. That experience isn’t much changed from the original. There’s a new Chromecast app, which works pretty much the same with newer or older device.

The app’s big benefits are the attractive (and more useful) design, ease of setting up a new Chromecast, and the robust but sometimes puzzling search feature. In concept, you can search for content across connected apps and services on your device. For example, search for “X-Files”, and the Chromecast app will direct you to the series on Hulu and Netflix, also. If not installed, you will be prompted to download.

Search for “Outlander”, however, and the series shows up on Google Play but not the Starz app, which can cast the series. Uh-oh. But the series content revealed on YouTube is impressive, and will be more useful when the Red subscription service launches on October 28th. YouTube Red is a $9.99 per month sub that includes Google Music and broadcasts without advertising. That’s right—ad-free, baby.

Like the original, Chromecast 2—2015 or, ah, puck, if you prefer—draws power from a TV’s USB port or electrical outlet. I use the former, without any hardship. There isn’t much else to report. The overall user experience between models isn’t much changed. For the price, 35 bucks, the two aforementioned big benefits, and three color choices there isn’t much to say but “buy it”.

One more thing, three days ago, I mentioned that our cat Cali insinuated herself into my Chromecast photo shoot. The featured pic is evidence. 🙂

Editor’s Note: A version of this review appears on BetaNews.

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