It has been nearly two years since Google first unveiled its Chromecast dongle for only $35 and at this year's Google I/O conference, Google's Sundar Pichai said that over 17 million have been sold to date and today they announced that 20 million have been sold! Finally, after a long two years – by electronic standards – Google will unveil its follow up, the Chromecast 2. Google has made updates over the years to help keep its Chromecast a little more functional and useful by adding a few features, but the device itself was long overdue for an update. Let's take a look at what the new Chromecast 2 has to offer…is it worth updating from the original Chromecast?
Let's begin by first talking about what is the Chromecast dongle. A $35 dongle (I love that word) that plugs into any HDMI port enabling a dumb TV to become somewhat smart and a Smart TV to become even smarter. You also need to have a close by USB port for power or it can also plug into a normal wall plug. The dongle itself has no user interface of its own…an app that you download to your smartphone or tablet (and also from a Chrome Browser) operates Chromecast. It will allow you to display just about anything on your device to your TV or monitor – the term is called 'casting.' The 'cast' icon is built into many apps that support Chromecast and there are also apps specifically written for Chromecast that can wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV, as well as apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports.
Google's new Chromecast 2 is now a colorful and circular device we had heard rumors about, and with all of its improvements, it still only costs $35 at the Google Store, Best Buy or Wal-Mart. This is an instance where form followed function as Google claims it is much easier to plug into an HDMI port when you have to squeeze it into tight quarters – it can now hang down, away from other plugs. It is available in lemonade, coral and black. Google says their new antenna design allows it to steam higher-resolution videos at a faster rate and with less buffering.
A new feature called "Fast Play" will allow you to establish the connection faster with your TV so it can start loading a series episode as soon as you turn on the app – it works by pre-loading content. Google has also redesigned the Chromecast app to list the applications on your device that can 'Cast,' search for content within them and display updates. It is now compatible with Showtime, the NBA and MLS applications.
Another big improvement is that Chromecast 2 now has something called Game Casting which should vastly improve the casting experience for games from the mobile device to the big screen, although it may take time for the developers to update their games. The Game Casting feature will be available around Christmas and what is so nice is that the phone acts like the controller – this is supported for both Android devices and the iPhone. Check out the video below to get an idea of what this little dongle can do.