One of the first streaming devices I ever bought was the original Google Chromecast. I bought every Chromecast iteration after that because I enjoyed it so much. You might be wondering whether it’s worthwhile to upgrade your Chromecast if you have one of the older models.
I’ll therefore review each Chromecast generation of the Chromecast in this article. I’ll let you know what was changed and what was added.
You can choose whether a more recent Chromecast generation offers a “must-have” feature you require.
1st Chromecast Generation
Google’s response to the newly popular Android TV sticks was the first Chromecast generation, which was released in 2013.
In actuality, the only Chromecast with that recognizable “flash-drive” design is the first Chromecast generation. A larger, disc-shaped dongle will be used in later generations. The first-Chromecast generation had 512 MB of RAM and 2 GB of storage. This allowed the original Chromecast to cast videos up to 1080p, which was small by today’s standards. That continues to be the industry norm for broadcast television today, almost ten years later.
In contrast to similar streaming gadgets at the time, the Chromecast was operated by a smartphone app rather than an additional controller. In actuality, a remote wouldn’t be included with the Chromecast until several years later.
The Chromecast made its own connection to the media, rather than mirroring what was happening on your phone or Chrome browser.
This was a major deal at the time since it meant that the TV, not the phone or computer that controlled it, would display what you were casting at its resolution. Instead than simply mirroring your smartphone’s display, videos thrown to a Chromecast would appear more sharp and clear.
The budget-friendly first-Chromecast generation was discontinued in the fall of 2015 when the second-Chromecast generation was announced, despite the fact that it had excellent sales.
2nd Chromecast Generation
The first Chromecast generation was discontinued in the fall of 2015 with the release of the second Chromecast generation models. Google concluded that a new version required a new look in order to capitalize on the momentum.
The second-Chromecast generation now resembled a dongle rather than a flash drive. To make it even flashier, it was now offered in three other hues: black, yellow, and red.
The first model Chromecast was initially criticized for being too heavy for the HDMI connector on the TV. Rarely, the added weight would cause HDMI ports to become completely loose or break.
The strain on the TV was lessened by switching to a dongle design.
The strain on the TV was lessened by switching to a dongle design.
Additionally, the design gained a few extra inches, which made it much simpler to conceal the Chromecast behind your TV. Both the Chromecast’s HDMI port and the rear of the dongle itself were magnetic. This made it easier for it to mount to TVs and walls.
The second Chromecast generation includes a few enhancements in addition to the design changes to make the Chromecast more user-friendly.
It was the first Chromecast model that support 802.11 ac wireless technology. Under the shell, there were three internal antennas that would assist you connect to your home network more rapidly.
Despite being significantly speedier and more dependable than its predecessor, the second generation Chromecast actually has less powerful hardware.
The 512 MB of system RAM was the same as in the previous edition. Instead of the 2 GB of the original Chromecast, internal storage capacity significantly decreased to 256 MB.
When the third generation Chromecast was released in 2018, this version was discontinued.
The Chromecast Audio was only a streaming music player when it was introduced in 2015 at the same time as the second-generation Chromecast. For simple, wireless music streaming, you simply plug it into speakers or home theater systems.
This model had 256 MB of RAM and 256 MB of flash storage, just like the Chromecast from the second generation.
The Chromecast Audio contained a hybrid 3.5mm headphone port that doubled as a digital optical output, unlike the Chromecast 2nd version. As a result, it was the first Chromecast to have ports other than the micro-USB power jack.
With the exception of grooves etched into the top to simulate vinyl records, the design was almost unchanged from the earlier iteration (if anyone remembers those things).
The majority of popular streaming services, including Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, TuneIn Radio, NPR, and Google Play Music, were compatible with Chromecast Audio.
It supported the following audio formats:
- WAV (LPCM)
- FLAC with support for high-resolution streams (24-bit / 96 kHz)
Early in 2019, not long after the third-generation Chromecast was introduced, this model was discontinued.
A mid-Chromecast generation addition to the Chromecast series was the Chromecast Ultra. The second Chromecast generation model, which had just been released the year before, featured one significant change when it made its appearance in 2016.
It sounds like a big deal today because this one could project video in 4K Ultra-High Definition with High Dynamic Range (HDR). Additionally, it supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.
Though keep in mind that there wasn’t much 4K content available in 2016.
At first, the Chromecast Ultra could only support Netflix and YouTube. Prime Video was conspicuously absent due to the ongoing dispute with Amazon.
It’s easy to identify a Chromecast Ultra by its red-accented HDMI port and bulkier frame. When they are placed side by side,
Google never provided storage information for the Chromecast Ultra, and teardowns have not provided any answers. The system memory was boosted to 1 GB of DDR3 RAM, according to Google, nonetheless. Under the hood, a new, more effective CPU was also included.
For the first time, the power adapter for the Chromecast Ultra featured a built-in Ethernet connector. Anyone who required a more reliable connection than Wi-Fi would find this to be a major selling factor.
The Chromecast Ultra loaded videos 1.8 times faster than earlier devices as a result.
But there was a price for all of this.
The list price of the Chromecast Ultra increased from $35 to $69, more than doubling that of the second-generation Chromecast.
Sales were substantially hindered by the fact that there were other other (better) options available at that price point. When the Chromecast with Google TV was introduced in September 2020, the Chromecast Ultra was discreetly phased off.
3rd Chromecast Generation
In 2018, the third and most recent Chromecast generation was unveiled. As opposed to being a whole new Chromecast generation, it would be wiser to consider this a “refresh.” If you want a basic streamer that you can operate with your smartphone, it’s still available today for the same price of $35.
It was still an HDMI dongle that plugged in and had a micro-USB port for power. But every prior version’s glossy black and sharp edges are no longer present.
Compared to its predecessors, this new Chromecast is a little bit smaller and has a lot softer appearance.
It comes in the colors “Chalk” and “Charcoal,” respectively.
Regarding the third Chromecast generation’s technical specifications, Google remained silent once more. I doubt it will be significantly different from the second Chromecast generation streamer based on the performance.
The addition of 1080p video at 60 frames per second and speedier launch times compared to the previous edition. The Google Home line of smart speakers now fully supports and integrates Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.
But those are the only significant adjustments. Unsurprisingly, the tech press was unimpressed after receiving the third Chromecast generation.
But that doesn’t mean the streaming player was bad.
Not at all.
We merely had higher expectations.
We received it after two years.
Chromecast with Google TV
With the Chromecast, the current iteration completely changes what you thought you were getting.
The Chromecast with Google TV will debut in the fall of 2020.
become a full-fledged streaming media player, complete with remote control and (gasp) its own operating system!
Google’s new operating system should look familiar if you’ve experimented with an NVIDIA Shield or a television running Android TV.
Google wants users to be aware that the new OS plays a significant role in the Chromecast experience, though. They even included it in the name of the product: Chromecast with Google TV.
Google TV uses the same fundamental menu structure as the previous Amazon FireStick, taking a lead from their main rival.
The top row includes tabs for your apps, purchased content, a dedicated Movies and TV Shows page, and tailored content recommendations. Sorry, we’re sorry… The whole top half of the screen is devoted to “recommendations.”
Unfortunately, there is no option to disable them, which astonished many Android TV users.
You get access to the Google suite of services, including the Google Play Store and Google Assistant, because it runs Android TV.
The $49 Chromecast with Google TV can play 4K material at 60 frames per second, just like the Chromecast Ultra did before it. Additionally, it supports Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos audio as well as Dolby Vision and HDR10+ video.
That calls for a lot of stronger gear.
For the first time, Google chose an AmLogic CPU and paired it with 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Both are on the low end for current streaming media players, but they are sufficient to get the job done.
A redesign was necessary in addition to the hardware alterations.
The form of the Chromecast with Google TV is a little bit changed; it no longer resembles disc-shaped devices and instead is more elliptical and oval in shape.
Additionally, the Chromecast now comes in three colors for the first time: ‘Snow’ (white), ‘Sunrise,’ a pastel red, and ‘Sky,’ a pastel blue.
This is the first Chromecast to have a remote control, as I already explained. Previous owners of Chromecast frequently grumbled that there was no other way to control it besides your smartphone.
Despite being small and pill-shaped, the Bluetooth remote is remarkably ergonomic. Some people disregarded its simplistic style, but I find it appealing.
They’ve undoubtedly learned a thing or two about design from Apple.
The Chromecast control is uncomplicated and easy to use. There is seldom a time when I wish there were more buttons because everything is precisely where you would expect it to be.
For power, it finally makes the leap to a USB-C port, which is consistent across Google’s lineup. You can use power supplies from a Google Pixel or Google Home in a pinch.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Chromecast with Google TV do?
Google Chromecast plugs into your TV and grants easy access to multiple streaming services, from Netflix and YouTube to Google Play.
What is the difference between Chromecast and Chromecast with Google TV?
Simply put, it costs $20 more and includes a ton of apps. Google’s streaming gadget now closely resembles the Fire TV sticks and Rokus with which it has always competed thanks to the Chromecast and Google TV. The fact that there is an interaction suggests that it is the most significant distinction. You can utilize 6,500 Android TV apps with the Chromecast with Google TV, so Chromecast support isn’t your only option.
Software upgrades are also available for the Chromecast with Google TV; however, it seems that they are not for the other Chromecasts. These upgrades have improved the storage optimizations (which should provide customers more storage space), as well as the support for Dolby Vision, HDR HLG, and DRM-protected content, on the Chromecast with Google TV.
Additionally, you may put down your phone and concentrate on what is on your TV by using the full remote that comes with your stream. While the Chromecast has a 1080p maximum resolution, the Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K video quality with Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+.
Does Chromecast have voice controls?
Voice commands are available on the newest Chromecast with Google TV model. By pressing the Google Assistant button on the remote, you can use voice commands and even have the UI adapt to your voice. Prior to today, you had to use a Google Home device to channel your Chromecast requests, but now you can use Google Assistant directly to issue voice commands.
The Chromecast’s control has a Google Assistant button, making it more simpler to use if you purchase it along with Google TV. Although Google offers comprehensive Chromecast setup instructions, the functionality is rather obvious. You can easily cast music and videos to your TV by connecting your Chromecast and phone to the same network.
Do I need Chromecast if I have a Smart TV?
If you already own a smart TV, you probably won’t need a Chromecast because many popular apps, like Netflix, are already included. You might think about a Chromecast instead because smart TVs are the more expensive alternative and most smart TV have different operating systems that are not based on android OS and have fewer apps available on their dedicated app store.
What is Chromecast and how does it work?
Chromecast is a streaming gadget that connects to your TV and the internet to allow you to broadcast video to your television. It employs the “Google Cast” protocol to let you to easily stream music, video, or images to your TV screen.
Do I have to pay a monthly fee for using Chromecast?
After you acquire the Chromecast gadget, there is no monthly fee. However, other apps, such as Netflix, are not free and require a monthly or annual subscription charge. Other apps, such as YouTube, remain free.
Is Chromecast with google tv available in my region?
To confirm if Chromecast with google TV is available in your location check out the google official store to see the available location
Where is the Google Chromecast extension?
I wasted a lot of time hunting for a Chromecast extension, but you don’t need to install anything to enable Chrome to work with Chromecast. If you don’t see a Chromecast button in the menu bar, click the three dots in the top right corner and choose Cast. Then you can see the devices that can send video to your TV. To maintain the button, right-click on the Cast logo and choose the Always show icon.
What can I watch on Google Chromecast?
Chromecast can play video and audio content from a variety of services. Many of these are tracked by Google on its official website, though there is no comprehensive list. Since Google introduced the Chromecast software development kit, new apps have started appearing on a regular basis, so keep a watch out for more apps.
Furthermore, the Chromecast with Google TV expands your streaming options to include over 5000 Android TV apps. That’s why it’s no longer only one of the best wireless screen-mirroring gadgets. We recently learned that the Chromecast with Google TV will soon have an Apple TV app, joining the likes of HBO Max, Netflix, and others.
Can I travel with a Chromecast?
The Chromecast generations may appear to be a blessing for regular travelers due to its tiny size and simple setup. Chromecast, on the other hand, does not allow captive portals, which are networks that demand browser-based logins. As a result, the Chromecast isn’t very useful in most hotels or universities. Still, if you bring any of your Chromecast generation devices with you and find a Wi-Fi network without a captive gateway, changing the login information is simple.
Are there any Chromecast alternatives?
Yes, but it also relies on your financial situation. You can also stream entertainment to your TV with a Roku Express 4K Plus for $39. However, the Chromecast generation’s overall appearance is usually superior.
Similar to a Roku device, the $179 Apple TV 4K can stream content (such as games) from your iPhone or iPad to your TV. A PS4 or Xbox One may also be used to stream media, but both systems are incredibly expensive.
How does Google Stadia work with Chromecast?
The company’s game streaming service, Google Stadia, can be accessed from anywhere, but in order to cast it to your TV requires specific Chromecast generations, you’ll either need the now-discontinued Chromecast Ultra or the Chromecast with Google TV from 2021.