The reason for this is now pretty obvious: there’s not very much to say about the company’s new media-streaming device.
The third-generation streamer has had a subtle redesign and now plays 1080p video at 60fps (in apps that support it). Google also claims it’s 15% faster than its predecessor, but with no 4K support, that’s just about the full extent of what’s new about the streaming device. So, is Google’s latest dongle worth £30 of your hard-earned cash? Read on to find out.
Another subtle improvement is that this Chromecast will reportedly support multi-room streaming at some stage (the feature isn’t available at launch) as currently offered by the Chromecast Audio. Otherwise, the third-generation Chromecast is the same streaming device we’ve come to know and love.
As well as supporting most TV and movie apps such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Now TV, BT Sport and All4, Google’s Chromecast works with a number of music streaming apps. These include Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, TuneIN Radio, and of course, Google Play Music. Last but not least, the Chromecast can also be used to play a growing library of games, and you can also cast anything from your home media library via Plex.
Chromecast 2018 review: Price and competition
As far as devices that plug inconspicuously into the back of your TV are concerned, the Chromecast’s main competition comes from the Roku Express (£29) and Amazon Fire TV Stick (£39.99). Both devices support streaming at 1080p, offer a similar range of apps (with a few exceptions) and come with handy remotes for browsing their respective interfaces.
If you want 4K playback, though, you’ll have to choose between the Chromecast Ultra (£69) , Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (£50) and Roku Streaming Stick+ (£80). The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K stands out among these devices not only because of its lower price, but because it also comes with the all-new Alexa remote, which can control a range of functions on infrared devices and also lets you view live camera feeds, and control other compatible smart home devices.
Chromecast 2018 review: Features and apps
The best thing about the Chromecast is just how simple it is, both in terms of design and usability. There’s no clutter below your TV as you have with a set-top box, and nor is there a remote to lose. Instead, after adding your Chromecast to your home network via the Google Home app on your phone, you can begin casting media by simply tapping the appropriate icon from a compatible mobile app or browser-based video streaming player.
There are naturally drawbacks to having no remote, though. One problem is that should your phone run out of battery, you lose the means of controlling whatever you’re watching on TV. That’s no big deal if you have another Android or Google Home device from which you or someone else can take the reigns, but it’s still not ideal.
And for some people, simply the idea of finding something to watch on a small phone screen (as opposed to browsing on your TV screen) will be enough to put them off – if that sounds like you, you’re better off with a Roku Express or Amazon Fire TV Stick, both of which come with dedicated remotes and user interfaces.
As far as which apps will offer 1080p at 60fps, sadly your guess is as good as mine, but since 1080p 24fps is the broadcasting standard, I’d be surprised if it was used much, if at all. YouTube is perhaps the one exception to this, so if you watch lots of gaming videos, you should benefit from being able to stream those at the intended frame rate.
Music and audio apps are well represented too, with Spotify, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, TIDAL, BBC iPlayer Radio,TuneIN Radio and Google Podcasts among the services currently listed on Google’s Chromecast apps page.
Another perk to buying a product that’s part of Google’s ecosystem is that you can cast images from Google Photos to your TV screen, and instead of seeing slideshows of Google’s selection of landscape photography, you can set your own albums to appear on the Chromecast’s splash screen when it’s not in use. That’s a nice touch if you want to turn your TV into a giant digital photo frame.