Chromecast Ultra Review: Now in 4K
With the release of the first Chromecast, Good Corporation marked a new path in its development — digital media players. The first device was inexpensive and quite functional. Recently, Google released the third version of the device — Chromecast Ultra (except for the modification of the second generation in the form of Chromecast Audio), which we will consider in today’s review.
This version of the device differs from the previous Chromecast by supporting 4K resolution, HDR, the presence of an Ethernet input, faster operation, slightly increased dimensions and weight. Like the second-generation Chromecast, support for dual-band Wi-Fi is announced. The device is compatible with Android 4.1 and above, iOS 8.0 and above, MacOS X 10.9 and above, Windows 7 and above. The official price for the Chromecast Ultra is almost twice as high as for the previous model — $69, although the set-top box is not officially sold in Russian retail yet. Let’s see if it’s worth the money.
The Chromecast Ultra comes in a neat white box with a handle that contains the player, power supply, and brief setup instructions.
The design of the media player is similar to the previous version, except that the Chromecast Ultra is painted with the letter G, while the logo is embossed on the regular Chromecast. An HDMI cable comes out of the device with a magnet embedded in the cable. With it, you can “stick” the cable to the bottom of the device.
The top of the player is very easily soiled. Although it does not matter, because the set-top box is still not visible behind the TV in most cases.
On the opposite side of the cable, the device has a microUSB connector, through which the Chromecast Ultra receives power.
The power supply itself turned out to be massive — larger than the player itself. Suddenly, it showed up an Ethernet connector. Signals from it enter the device itself through the same microUSB cable through which power is supplied. An interesting decision.
Connecting your Chromecast Ultra to your TV is easy:
- connect the device to the power supply;
- plug the HDMI cable into the correct HDMI port on the TV;
- switch the TV to the appropriate input;
- Download the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet and use it to connect to your Chromecast.
The setup process is quite simple. First, you will need to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot listed at the bottom left of the screen. When connected, the Chromecast Ultra will ask for a code that will be shown on the screen. After that, you will need to connect your Chromecast to your local network. Moreover, the password will not even need to be entered — Google Home will ask you to use the network password already saved on the device. When connected to a network with a 2.4 GHz band, Google Home will warn you that for 4K resolution you need to connect to a network that supports the 5 GHz band.
The first time you launch the app, it will start the update process and tell you how to control the flow, where the “cast” start button is located in different applications, how to control the sound and how to end the session. The application can also display a list of installed apps that support Chromecast, provide access to a section on Google Play with applications that support Chromecast, and allow you to change some settings. For example, you can broadcast information from social networks when the device is idle, or change the wallpaper. The app is language friendly and intuitive.
For Chromecast Ultra, support is announced in Google’s proprietary applications (Youtube, Movies and Music), Western streaming services (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and others), domestic streaming services (Amediateka and ivi). For streaming from a smartphone/PC, you can use the paid Plex for Android (to stream from a PC, you need to install Plex Media Server). Free analogues — LocalCast for Chromecast, BubbleUPnP for DLNA/Chromecast, AllCast.
You can also stream your smartphone screen to Chromecast. In this case, you, in fact, can transfer an image from any program, and with sound. To “cast” from a PC, you need to install the Google Cast extension in Google Chrome — it can be used to send any browser tab to the TV screen in full screen mode. Some sites (such as Youtube) have Chromecast streaming functionality built in.
In conclusion, we can say that the Chromecast Ultra turned out to be quite successful, if you do not take into account the price. It is more productive, which, in fact, is not very noticeable in FullHD-image conditions. It will be really relevant for fans of watching movies in 4K resolution, as well as in cases of strong Wi-Fi signal noise or a weak router (this is where the Ethernet connector comes in handy). It must be borne in mind that in order to transmit a 4K image, the Wi-Fi router must support the 5 GHz band (or connect, again, via an Ethernet connector).
If you do not need all this, then we can recommend the previous version of the device, which costs half the price.
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