After racking up more than 20 million sales of the original Chromecast, Google has unveiled a second version. With the same low selling price, and discrete size, it is set to continue the smart TV dongle’s success. But what exactly is new in the second generation edition, and is it worth upgrading if you’re an existing user? Let’s take a look.
What’s new in the new Chromecast
First things first, the new Chromecast is still just called Chromecast. It isn’t Chromecast 2, or 2nd gen (although that’s how we’ll refer to it for the sake of clarity). The new Chromecast is a direct replacement for the original.
The most immediately striking thing about the 2nd gen Chromecast is the new design.
The original model was a rigid dongle that plugged directly into the HDMI port on your TV. It was compact and tidy, although not always ideal if your ports were cramped for space, or located on the side of your set.
The new Chromecast has a small circular dongle containing the hardware, but plugs into the TV via an HDMI cable. It makes the point of connection smaller, so should fit comfortably on any TV.
It also comes in mulitple colours, although since it is pretty much hidden away from the moment you first plug it in, you won’t really notice that.
Although the internals of the new Chromecast are not massivle upgraded, the wi-fi antenna does now support 802.11ac and 5GHz networking.
Google promises this will result in faster performance and less buffering. It may also improve streaming of local files from your phone or PC. With apps like VLC set to support Chromecast soon, this is a welcome move.
There’s a new Chromecast app to go with the new hardware. You’ll also get this upgrade if you have the first generation device.
Its standout feature is Fast Play. This uses algorithms to predit what you’re about to watch and begin pre-buffering so that it starts instantly. In other words, it’ll make binge watching on Netflix even more addictive.
The app also now has voice search built in, so you’ll be able to find your favourite YouTube videos without even touching your phone. It’ll continue to work with all your existing Chromecast apps and games, too.
Worth the upgrade?
The second generation Chromecast is a realtively modest update in terms of new features. But at the price it is still pretty much a no-brainer. The performance improvements should be noticeable, and it will free up your old Chromecast to use on another TV in your home.
It is easy to see why it has outsold Roku and the Amazon Fire Stick, it remains the best and easiest way to turn your TV into a smart TV.
Are you a Chromecast user? Are you planning to buy the new model? What new features would you like it to have in future? Let us know in the comments below.