Google’s first generation Chromecast was a huge success. It launched in 2013 and instantly changed the way people streamed content between devices. With around-the-clock OTA updates, the tech brand made sure the dongle never felt outdated (you can even play Wii-like tennis on the thing).
That was almost three years ago, and with televisions getting smarter, people need something more powerful. After listening to early adopters, Google delivered a new version of the dongle, as well as a mysterious audio gadget. Both devices are now actually available on the Google Play Store, Best Buy, Target and other mainstream stores. In case you’re still holding on to the original Chromecast, you might want to read about the updates in the latest model and consider upgrading.
The first obvious update to the Chromecast 2 is the design. The team ditched the stick and replaced it with a small disc. This actually works better because it doesn’t block any of the surrounding ports around the HDMI slot. The piece that goes into the port is magnetic, and so is the dongle. You can clip the two parts together for easy storage.
Under the hood, the device is equipped with Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3006 SoC, 1.2GHz dual ARM Cortex-A7 processors. It also has the same amount of RAM at 512. Surprisingly, the gadget only comes with 256MB of storage (the first model had 2GB). The huge downgrade suggests that the Chromecast 2 has better connectivity features. Previously, the large flash storage was required for intense caching. To make up for that, the new version is loaded with more antennas, and supports modern Wi-Fi streaming standards of 802.11ac which operates on both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies.
“What we were able to do was build a product that is extremely focused on delivering that quality and performance from the cloud. Build the construct where apps could communicate with it. Apps wherever users are. There is a way to reach all users through SDKs. That was the foundation. For 2 years we’ve been building that out,” said Micah Collins, senior product manager of Chromecast.
For a smooth casting experience, the Chromecast 2 supports Fast Play. It predicts what you want to watch next, and preloads it to reduce awkward buffering sessions. The app also offers a range of new content selections, which almost acts like a digital TV guide. If nothing on the app tickles your fancy, you could always beam up your favorite movies using a combination of torrent files and third-party casting plug-ins (you didn’t hear it from us).
In addition to the new Chromecast, the company also released an audio device that allows you to stream music wirelessly via AUX. The gadget is pretty straightforward – simply plug it into the back of your speakers and you can start pushing music out from your smartphone. Unlike Bluetooth, the steady connection decreases the amount of static from the speakers.
So there you have it – Google has outdone itself once again, proving that the company can make an already perfect device even better with the Chromecast 2 while at the same time enter the crowded audio accessory space without flinching.