On July 24, 2013, Google’s Chromecast came to save the world from boredom. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it saved my world. I immediately sold our Roku and purchased a Chromecast. We had cut out cable to save money and instead relied on DSL for Internet service. We live in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Because of the mountains and the fact that the closest television market is 70 miles away we don’t get much in the choice of programming.
The point of this article is not to go into how the Chromecast works or how the they compare to other streaming devices. I just wanted to establish that I’ve owned them both since day one and what I’ve thought about them since then.
Google announced The New Chromecast (yes, that’s really what it’s called) and Chromecast Audio this past September 29th. The major difference between the original and The New Chromecast is that the newer model supports both 2.5 GHz and the 5 GHz on 802.11 ac. The original Chromecast only supports 2.5 GHz on 802.11 bgn.
The New Chromecast is noticeably faster. The OG Chromecast will occasionally stop and buffer video. I haven’t seen that happen yet with The New Chromecast. Since I am on DSL, I really expect there to be some buffering, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. Of course, since I mentioned it, it probably will do it next time I’m watching The Amazing Race. The New Chromecast also launches faster and is ready to cast faster than the OG Chromecast. This is partly because of a new feature that is supposed to anticipate what you may want to watch and then preload the video. I’ve noticed this especially when watching YouTube. I like to save YouTube clips throughout the week to a “Watch Later” queue and then watch all the clips on the TV via the Chromecast. The whole process is just so much smoother with The New Chromecast versus the OG Chromecast.
Moving on to Chromecast Audio. This is something I’ve been wanting since the original Chromecast came out in 2013. With the original, if you wanted to listen to your music collection, it plays on the TV, just like if you were watching a video. What about if you’re entertaining guests in the living room or want to listen on a set of portable speakers? Before Chromecast Audio, you could go out and purchase Google Cast enabled speakers, which cost more than a JBL Charge Bluetooth speaker, or multiple ones for that matter. Now you can turn any speaker with an audio in jack into a Google Cast speaker. Google has said that there are plans to add multi-casting, so that you can have your easy listening playlist in the dining room and the 80s music in the family room.
At $35 each (which, by the way, was the same cost of the OG Chromecast) you can put both The New Chromecast and Chromecast Audio under the tree this year. The New Chromecast is available in Lemonade (bright yellow), black, and Coral (red) from Google or just plain black from retailers like Walmart. In my opinion, the color doesn’t matter. It’s going to be hidden behind your TV anyway.