Google recently announced a brand new version of its popular and inexpensive Chromecast. A question we’re hearing asked a lot is, what’s the big difference between the old Chromecast and the new one?
What is Chromecast, anyway?
If you’re new to streaming TV, Chromecast is an external streaming device that will allow you to play internet video content on your TV. It lets you stream video directly from apps onto your television set. For more on how it works, check out my recent blog.
You can also read my review of the Chromecast, and its cousin, Chromecast Audio for more info on both devices.
5 Differences between Old Chromecast and New Chromecast
1. The Shape
Perhaps the most obvious difference right out of the box is the shape. Old Chromecast was a thumb-sized stick shape. While relatively small, it sometimes posed problems for wall-mounted TVs, because if your HDMI port was in the back of the set and at a 90 degree angle, you couldn’t plug it in while the TV was hanging on the wall.
New Chromecast is now a disc shape, with a floppy, flexible HDMI cable that allows it to dangle behind the TV; you could call it a dangle-dongle. This makes wall mounting easy.
2. Colour options: Black, Coral and Lemonade
While we’re on the subject of visual differences, we’ll talk about colour. While old Chromecast was only available in one colour, black, new Chromecast is being made in 3 colours: Black, Coral (red) and Lemonade (yellow). While this is a nice option, the fact that your Chromecast is likely to be out of sight behind your TV means you’ll probably never get to enjoy the pop of colour.
3. The Guts
Here’s where we get past the superficial, to the big and important differences. While old Chromecast only had a single antenna, this new remake uses the round shape to bake two more antennas into that tiny pie-shaped device. It also adds support for today’s improved Wi-Fi streaming standards (802.11ac, 5Ghz) which should make it more reliable, particularly if you live in a congested area with lots of Wi-Fi traffic. Google told the media the new antenna structure makes the new unit more than twice as fast at processing video. There’s also a new, faster processor under the hood (or crust if you want me to keep going with the pie analogy)to help keep things cookin’.
4. New App with Universal Search
Another major upgrade to new Chromecast (well, and the old one too, I suppose, since the app upgrade applies to both) is the new app. While the app used to just be a search hub for finding a list of compatible apps, now it will assist you, by highlighting which apps you already have that are Chromecast-compatible. It also suggests new apps that you might like too. Another major upgrade to the app, and probably the most useful is the addition of Universal Search. Universal Search will find all cast-able content on your device and allow you to play it, whereas with old Chromecast, you needed to search each individual app for the content you were looking for. This means doing one search will return results from, for example, Netflix AND YouTube, or whatever other apps you have on your device.
5. Fast Play Feature
One other new feature of new Chromecast is what Google has dubbed “Fast Play”. It’s actually kind of neat. The device uses its newfound strength and power to predict what you may want to watch next (after the show you’re watching now) and begins to load the start of that program so there’s no delay or hang time when you want to play it. This feature will work best when you’re binge-watching a series in order; Netflix for example will have the next episode of Suits all cued up so there’s no waiting on episode 2 once episode 1 is over.
So!? Which one should I get??
After reading countless articles and assessments of both old and new Chromecast, and trying both, it seems like there’s no silver bullet when it comes to new Chromecast. While it does have some incremental improvements, it probably won’t make that much of a difference to the average streamer, particularly to someone who’s just getting into the streaming TV game.
With that said, however, I think that for the teeny difference in price, you may as well get the newer model, because you probably won’t regret having those minor improvements. Another big reason I’d get the new one over the old one is a superficial reason: the dangle-dongle. I have a wall mounted TV and it’s just easier and more convenient to have the new puck rather than the stiff old stick.
Do you have questions about Chromecast, or want us to review another device for you? Let us know in comments below.