The new Chromecast app is out already, and as far as we know, all of its new features work with the old Chromecast. That means that – aside from the new design and Wi-Fi – the two Chromecasts are basically the same. Which means existing owners shouldn’t rush to upgrade.
The Chromecast was a breakthrough product in more ways than one. It was a super-cheap streamer, didn’t come with a remote control and let you use your phone as both the remote and a second screen. Should you upgrade to the new one? Here’s our Chromecast vs New Chromecast comparison.
Chromecast vs Chromecast 2: Design
The old Chromecast looked like a fat USB stick, which confused many as it connects not to USB but your TV’s HDMI input. It came with a flexible cable in case you couldn’t plug it in directly. In most cases you could power it from your TV’s USB port, if it had one you weren’t using for other things.
The New Chromecast (that’s its official name, not Chromecast 2) is circular and has the flexible HDMI cable permanently attached. Oddly, it comes in various colours, which seems pointless as it will be hidden behind your TV.
The new model still requires USB power.
Chromecast vs Chromecast 2: Features and specs
Google has been cagey about the hardware inside the New Chromecast, apart from the Wi-Fi. This is the big update: 802.11ac Wi-Fi with three antennae. Depending on other Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity, and the strength of the signal, the New Chromecast will intelligently switch between 2.4- and 5GHz, and therefore antennae to maintain enough throughput to stream HD content.
Google showed graphs at the New Chromecast’s launch which demonstrated it was more than twice as fast at a given signal strength than the original Chromecast.
Other than that, there are no known changes. Maximum video resolution is still 1080p, so anyone hoping for a 4K Chromecast will have to look elsewhere.
Chromecast vs Chromecast 2: Chromecast app
Google has revamped the Chromecast app to make it do more than merely setting up a new device. Now it lets you search all ‘castable’ content on your phone with a universal search. That means one search will yield results from Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, TED and any other apps you have installed on your phone.
Plus, you can finally cast photos and videos from the Google Photos app so they can be seen on the big screen. Previously this required a third-party app and was a bit of a hack.
On top of that, you can mirror your phone’s screen to the Chromecast and also play games on your TV, using your phone as the controller and second screen. Chromecast-supporting games will start to appear soon, including Angry Birds Go and WGT Golf.
The New Chromecast costs £30, but we expect that to be discounted as the old Chromecast was frequently.
Google Chromecast: Specs
- HDMI dongle, requires web connection, powered via microUSB