What is Chromecast?
When the first Chromecast arrived, video streaming was still a fairly new concept. It was the perfect time for Google to build a niche.
Everyone has a smartphone, right? So, what if you can choose your content on the screen you already have in your hands, and then send it to your TV? The idea took off, and the original Chromecast was a massive success. It helped that it was a small device that could be plugged into any HDMI jack, and it cost 30 pounds. The second-generation Chromecast came out at the end of 2015, and it's so good that it's still going strong.
Of course, other rivals have begun to invade the territory of Google: the Roku Express and the Amazon Fire TV Stick are the latest to offer a clear 1080p transmission. None of them is so simple to use, however. And Google still has the advantage of smart integration at home, thanks to the Google Home voice assistant.
Do you have a 4K TV? We recommend you read our review of Chromecast Ultra to see if it's worth spending money on the most advanced Google model.
Chromecast – Design and configuration
The second Chromecast has a completely revised design, deviating considerably from the & # 39; stick & # 39; of the original.
Now the device has a round chassis that connects to the HDMI port of your TV. Google has also made the Chromecast cross-platform, adding support for iOS and Windows.
This compatibility, combined with the low cost of the Chromecast, makes it a compelling alternative to the Apple TV, which costs £ 129.
The installation process is quite identical to the original Chromecast. Simply plug in the power cord and install the Chromecast application (now called the Start application) on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
From there, turn on the application and follow the commands on the screen to connect the Chromecast to your Wi-Fi. Fi the network and synchronize it with your device. Once this is done, you are ready to transmit.
Chromecast: the new application
Despite having the same configuration process, Chromecast 2 runs with a completely redesigned application.
Google describes the application as a center for all your digital content needs. It works by extracting the content of all the applications installed in the device that can transmit from a single pane of glass.
In theory, this means that you can see all the content you can see on the Chromecast in one place, without having to individually verify each application. You could see what movies are on Netflix along with the recently added TV shows on the BBC iPlayer, for example.
Chromecast has a cross-platform search feature in the Home application, which allows you to search for specific content in your installed applications. This is one of Chromecast's biggest and most important updates, which moves it from a basic broadcast device to an all-in-one entertainment center.
Chromecast is now also compatible with a greater number of applications. For entertainment, Spotify is the new biggest addition.
The first Chromecast did not have the functionality so you could stream Spotify music to your TV, which was annoying for those who did not have a decent Bluetooth speaker or a home sound. system.
Support for productivity applications is also new for Chromecast. These include Google's own documents, as well as third-party services, such as Polaris Office.
For me, this is one of the most interesting updates for Chromecast. I see that the device is being adopted by small offices looking for an easy way to transmit presentations to a big screen.
Related: Chromecast Audio review
 The ability to stream web pages from Chrome open tabs is another welcome addition, making it easier to stream non-Chrome apps compatible, such as DeviantArt, with televisions.
Finally, Chromecast is now compatible with some Android games. On paper, the game feature is another great update that puts the Chromecast on par with the larger transmission boxes, such as Fire TV.
Unfortunately, as in most media players and entertainment centers, the quality and quantity of the streamable games in the Android store are lacking. Those who are present are quite casual: Wheel of Fortune, for example, instead of Sonic the Hedgehog.
The latest addition to the Chromecast repertoire is integration with Google Home. Basically, you can use your voice for Netflix to play on your TV. It's a bit, but it's great.
Chromecast – Transmission Quality
Google claims that the Chromecast will stream video significantly faster thanks to the addition of a 5GHz Wi-Fi network and a new feature & # 39; Quick Play & # 39 ;.  Improved Wi-Fi support allows the Chromecast to transmit and connect to devices using the newest and most stable 5 GHz frequency. The old Chromecast is only compatible with the older 2.4 GHz frequency. which could occasionally be a little nervous when transmitting movies.
Quick Playback is a key feature of the Chromecast, designed to allow the device cache to display in the background that you think you are likely to see. Google says that this functionality will allow Chromecast 2 to transmit content 80% faster. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to verify Google's claim, because with the content aggregation service, Fast Play is not yet available in the United Kingdom.
Facing the Chromecast head-to-head against its predecessor, the updated device is a bit faster. I switched the two Chromecasts on and off a 40-inch Samsung TV while streaming content from Netflix, Crunchyroll and BBC iPlayer on a Nexus 6 smartphone and on the BT Home Hub router.
When I run the two devices on the 2.4GHz frequency, content universally loaded two to five seconds faster on the newer Chromecast. I did not notice a massive improvement neither in the speed nor in the quality of the image when happening to the frequency of 5GHz, although the new Chromecast maintained its advantage in the times of load.
Unlike the Nvidia Shield or Amazon Fire TV, the Chromecast can not transmit 4K Content; flows at a maximum resolution of 1080p. You will need a Chromecast Ultra if you want that additional resolution.
Why buy the Chromecast?
If you have a first generation Chromecast, then you probably do not need to improve. Chromecast is more of a refinement than a reinvention of Google's streaming. His only notable improvements are some performance improvements under the hood and more application support.
However, if you do not have the first-generation Chromecast, it's definitely worth checking out the latest Google serpentine. Although the owners of 4K TVs may want to have a secure future by buying the Chromecast Ultra.
Chromecast is still one of the best coils on the market, offering the functionality traditionally seen in entertainment boxes that are almost twice, if not three times the price.
I would also recommend that any iOS user with a low budget review the Chromecast before disbursing an Apple TV as well.
The Chromecast is one of the best: value of data transfers in the market, even if it does not feel terribly original.