Chrome­cast Ul­tra

£69 inc VAT • google.co.uk

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google launched its new Chrome­cast Ul­tra when it an­nounced its Pixel and Pixel XL smart­phones in Oc­to­ber 2016. The de­vice looks to solve what is slowly but surely be­com­ing the is­sue with cheaper main­stream me­dia stream­ing de­vices – be­ing able to stream in 4K HD. The Chrome­cast Ul­tra is £39 more than the reg­u­lar Chrome­cast, but it solves that and ul­ti­mately jus­ti­fies the ask­ing price.

De­sign

The Chrome­cast Ul­tra is quite sim­i­lar in de­sign to the stan­dard ver­sion, though this one adopts

Google’s new ‘G’ logo that’s also on the back of the Google Pixel. Frankly, it doesn’t mat­ter what the thing looks like, be­cause it nes­tled be­hind you TV, hang­ing from a short piece of flat ca­ble that you plug into the HDMI port. This then con­nects to the Chrome­cast via Mi­cro-USB.

Un­like pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, the Chrome­cast Ul­tra is only avail­able in black but re­sem­bles a small hockey puck, inside which wireless tech re­sides. The only other things in the box are the power ca­ble and the power adap­tor that also has a handy Eth­er­net port on it.

The unit it­self mea­sures 58.2x13.7mm while the power ca­ble is a gen­er­ous 2m. The puck it­self is only 47g, so it’s no prob­lem to have it hang­ing from a port on the back of any tele­vi­sion.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

The head­line here is that the Chrome­cast Ul­tra sup­ports up to 4K Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion stream­ing. It is also HDR com­pat­i­ble (high dy­namic range), mean­ing on a 4K HDR TV you will get some se­ri­ously de­cent qual­ity streams run­ning. It also works up to 1080p on non-4K TVs, though the cheaper Chrome­cast will also do this.

Its wireless ca­pa­bil­i­ties are 802.11ac, the most ad­vanced form of Wi-Fi go­ing, and it sup­ports 2.4GHz/5GHz for the best pos­si­ble wireless per­for­mance. Ba­si­cally, it’s top spec for a me­dia streamer.

There’s not much else to know apart from the de­vices its op­er­a­tion sup­ports. You can stream from any An­droid de­vice run­ning An­droid 4.1 and higher, any iPhone or iPad run­ning iOS 8.0 and

higher, any Mac or MacBook run­ning OS X 10.9 and higher, and any Win­dows de­vice run­ning Win­dows 7 and higher.

There is no re­mote con­trol like you get with the Amazon Fire Stick, but the idea here is dif­fer­ent to those de­vices; we didn’t miss hav­ing one. While they rely on apps and an on-screen in­ter­face to choose what to watch, the Chrome­cast Ul­tra works through the de­vice you are us­ing with it.

Soft­ware

Setup is easy, no mat­ter what de­vice you’re us­ing. For iOS and An­droid smart­phones and tablets, just down­load the free Google Home app and fol­low the on screen in­struc­tions. It re­ally is that easy, and we found it worked first time ev­ery time on ev­ery de­vice.

We tested stream­ing from an iPhone, iPad, An­droid smartphone, An­droid tablet, Win­dows 10 lap­top and a MacBook – all worked ex­cel­lently with a com­mer­cial Wi-Fi router con­nec­tion. It’s great to have the op­tion to use Eth­er­net too for an even sta­bler con­nec­tion – sim­ply plug an Eth­er­net ca­ble (not sup­plied) into the power adap­tor and then into your router. Hav­ing said this, we never en­coun­tered dis­rup­tion to a wireless stream, though some­times it took a minute or two to buf­fer up to full 4K res­o­lu­tion.

On iPhone and iPad you can cast mu­sic or video from apps with the Chrome­cast but­ton built in. This in­cludes pop­u­lar apps like YouTube, Net­flix and BBC iPlayer and it all works ex­cel­lently. The thing you can’t do on iOS that you can on An­droid (Google play­ing nice with Google here) is mir­ror­ing your de­vice screen to your TV. This works well and is good way to view Face­book pho­tos on your TV or even give a pre­sen­ta­tion at work.

On a Win­dows PC or Mac, you can in­stall the Google Cast ex­ten­sion to your Chrome browser. This al­lows you to cast your Chrome tab to your TV, but not use full mir­ror­ing. You won’t likely use this fea­ture much though; the value here is in 4K video stream­ing.

It’d be te­dious to list ev­ery­thing we tested with the Chrome­cast Ul­tra, but, YouTube worked per­fectly from an iPhone, BT Sport ran in HD from an iPad, Net­flix ran Nar­cos in 4K from a Sam­sung Galaxy smartphone – you get the pic­ture. And that pic­ture is al­ways in ex­cel­lent 4K res­o­lu­tion. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by tech be­cause this should be an as­tound­ing feat – yet some­how

the Chrome­cast Ul­tra is kind of mun­dane sim­ply be­cause it works so well. This makes it the per­fect ad­di­tion to your HD TV if you are used to us­ing video ser­vices on your other de­vices.

We find it far eas­ier to stream us­ing Chrome­cast than hav­ing a smart TV; of­ten these TVs have amaz­ing pic­tures but ter­ri­ble user in­ter­faces. This is the Chrome­cast’s ad­van­tage, but re­mem­ber that it re­lies on your de­vice not run­ning out of bat­tery. The Amazon Fire Stick is a bet­ter choice if you want to only re­ply on mains power and a TV.

Verdict

If you have a 4K TV and a Net­flix sub­scrip­tion, the Chrome­cast Ul­tra is worth the £69 ask­ing price. The fact it is so easy to use and works best with the Google Home app means you can eas­ily throw it in a bag and use it on dif­fer­ent TVs wher­ever you are, as your phone or tablet car­ries your stream­ing sub­scrip­tions with you.

If you don’t have a 4K TV then go with the £30 Chrome­cast, but other­wise if you want a nonon­sense me­dia streamer the Chrome­cast Ul­tra is one of the best go­ing. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

HDMI Mi­cro-USB Eth­er­net port Sup­ports all res­o­lu­tions up to 4K Ul­tra HD and high dy­namic range 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz) Wi-Fi 58.2x13.7x58.20mm De­vice, 47g; adap­tor, 101g

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