New & Im­proved

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - TEST BENCH -

When it was launched a cou­ple of years ago, Google Chromecast was a great way to con­vert your reg­u­lar TV into a smart one, with­out spend­ing much. The big USB-type don­gle could be plugged into the TV’s HDMI port and paired over the Google Cast app to stream con­tent wire­lessly from the smart­phone on the TV. But it wasn’t per­fect and had its share of draw­backs. Google has now launched the new Chromecast with bet­ter and smooth func­tion­al­ity.

DE­SIGN: While the older gen­er­a­tion Chromecast was big and looked like a USB don­gle, the new Chromecast has a cir­cu­lar de­sign that can be neatly tucked be­hind the TV. It has a flex­i­ble HDMI ca­ble and a mi­cro USB port for draw­ing power. While a power adapter has been added to the box, it can even source power from a spare USB port on the TV.

PAIR­ING: Af­ter con­nect­ing the Chromecast to the TV, you will need the Google Cast app to pair the don­gle. Chromecast cre­ates its own Wi-Fi net­work to pair with the app and the pair­ing process is re­ally sim­ple. When paired for the first time, the Chromecast up­dates it­self and, yet, is ready to use in five min­utes. Google has added dual-band net­works to the hard­ware, which en­hances the over­all cast­ing/ stream­ing per­for­mance. Tech­ni­cally, Chromecast doesn’t do any­thing on its own apart from hav­ing a few images as the screen­saver. Ev­ery­thing – be it stream­ing or con­trol­ling – is done us­ing the com­pat­i­ble app. It is com­pat­i­ble with iPhone, iPad, An­droid smart­phones and tablets, Mac, Win­dows and Chrome­books.

APPS: Google has im­proved the cast app sig­nif­i­cantly and now has a list of apps with cast com­pat­i­bil­ity across en­ter­tain­ment, gam­ing, mu­sic, video, pho­tog­ra­phy, TV shows, etc. Within the Google Cast app, there are three tabs – What’s On, De­vices and Get Apps. What’s On shows trend­ing con­tent that can be streamed. The De­vices tab helps in pair­ing as well as con­trol­ling the Chromecast, while the Get Apps sec­tion fea­tures var­i­ous apps with Cast sup­port. The num­ber of apps com­pat­i­ble with the Chromecast is much higher in com­par­i­son to the first gen­er­a­tion Chromecast. Pop­u­lar names with cast com­pat­i­bil­ity in­clude YouTube, Net­flix, Hooq, Saavn, ErosNow, Viki, Twitch, TED, NBA and Pixlr, among oth­ers.

PER­FOR­MANCE: Af­ter pair­ing, I started stream­ing videos to Chromecast us­ing the YouTube app. The cast fea­ture in­stantly throws the con­tent onto the TV, with­out any buffer­ing or lag. I was also able to stream off­line videos stored within the app. You can add con­tent to the queue and exit the app to use the phone for other things. When I ex­ited the YouTube app on the iPhone SE, the Chromecast con­tin­ued to play the video. Later, I was able to stop the video from the Cast app. When used on An­droid phones, it can also mir­ror the phone screen on your TV.

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