New & Improved
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.