Chromecast And Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

As predicted, today Google unleashed not one but two Chromecast devices. They're both impressive. I just spent a little time with both of them and here are my impressions.

The new Chromecast is a funny little puck with a built-in HDMI cable. This is a good thing, as it makes connecting it even easier than it originally was -- though you may want to use some double-sided tape to stick it in place to the back of your TV, just for aesthetic purposes. Aside from that, the only thing you should notice about the hardware is that it works better and streams faster than the original version did.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

The most significant improvement comes in the Chromecast app. Basically, the original app didn't really do anything except connect and disconnect your phone from Chromecast. The new app leverages all of Google's search-smarts and becomes a fully functional and thoughtfully laid-out content hub.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

Not only does it show you recommended content available to cast in the apps you have on your phone, but if you search for, say, Minority Report, it will let you choose whether you want the movie or the TV show. Pick which one you want, and then it will show you all of your options for watching. It will show you if it's free on Netflix, two bucks on Google Play, or available on an app you haven't yet installed. It was fast and incredibly convenient.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

I also got to try gaming on the new Chromecast with the Mario Kart-esque Angry Birds Drive. We enabled multiplayer mode, created a game, joined, and then the TV became a split-screen race with our phones acting as a remote steering wheel (think Nintendo Wii's wheel). We were on a super congested network, and so framerates weren't as smooth as you'd hope, but the latency was low enough that I could steer through turns and around obstacles without a problem.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

In another room I checked out Chromecast Audio, and there isn't really much to say -- other than it worked as advertised and sounded excellent. It was plugged into an older Yamaha amp that was connected to a pair of speakers, and music played just as you'd expect. It's definitely something I'd buy for my older stereo system if, y'know, I didn't live in a van.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

I wasn't able to try out multi-room play, which won't be available until later this year, but when it is I really think it could eat a big bite of Sonos' lunch. A lot of people already have stereos and speakers and don't want to replace the whole system (in every room) just to get it internet-connected. Google's solution is damn tempting.

Chromecast and Chromecast Audio Hands-On: Damn, These Seem Promising

We should be getting review units of the Chromecasts today, so we'll be back with a full review in the not too distant future.

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    why does it need to look so ugly >< big yellow puck hanging out of the TV.

      Hide it behind the TV. A bit of double sided tape will do the trick. Not hard.

      Says the guy with the EA logo as an avatar.

        Say's the guy who obviously didn't look very closely before trying to make a witty comment.

    Is the new puck self powered? Or dose it come with a power cable like the original?

    Last edited 30/09/15 9:43 am

      neither are self powered...

        if you click the buy now, it shows what they come with

        appears to still be micro-usb aswell, not type-c

        Hi, how would I use chrome cast audio from my smart phone or tablet to play music via something like Spotify??

    Why oh why could they not keep last gen design? What an ugly looking thing.

      This fits nicely behind wall mounted TV's because it's flat , the dongle stuck out too far for most wall mounted TV's so it was unusable or you had to have it dangling out from under/out the side the TV which some people (like me) found messy and ugly looking.

    The audio looks okay, the TV..Blurgh!

    Does the Chromecast audio support airplay as well?

    Oh, it is available in different colours.

      yeah or red sorry "coral"

    I'll upgrade in a heart beat if they're less than 100 bucks and do 1080.

      USD$35, so should be around the $50-$60 mark, and they do 1080.

    I don't get the Chromecast Audio, how is it any different to just using a regular old Bluetooth dongle?

      1) It's not using Bluetooth
      2) Bluetooth Audio is crap quality.
      3) You can set it play and then walk outside of Bluetooth range and it'll still work!

        "Bluetooth Audio is crap quality."

        This is completely false.

          Last time I checked it was still inferior, got anything to back up your "completely false" claim?

            The Bluetooth A2DP protocol can send audio data in MP3 or AAC format. Bluetooth gives you ~ 3 Mbit/s at optimum conditions, which is quite a lot of head room for what people generally consider good quality audio in those formats.

            So it should be possible to transmit high quality audio via Bluetooth. Whether you'd see these results with common hardware is another matter. The receiver needs to support the codecs, and the sending side needs to send in a reasonable quality (i.e. if it re-encodes all the outgoing audio at low bit rate, then you're screwed).

              Fair enough, not sure what my car is using but it's a 2014 Mazda 3 and I can still notice a difference between BT and USB. Granted, out of laziness I still use BT half the time because I can't be bothered connecting it. If I can notice it at a medium glance then I'm sure audiophiles are all over it.

              I guess I'd chalk it upto BT audio used to be pretty noticably terrible (like listening to 96 or 128 mp3 noticable). Now it's totally passable and most casual listeners won't notice.... but it's still a drop in quality to the informed ear.

                And that's the difference between what a standard allows and what a particular implementation actually provides. I suspect that if you swapped out the devices on the send or receive side you might hear different results. However, if you've got an alternative connection method that satisfies you, it probably isn't worth the effort.

    The audio looks like a much better option than going all in on Sonos gear.

    Does the new app work for the original chromecast? Can't see why it wouldn't.

    The audio one is so overdue! I actually can't believe there aren't hundreds of variations of this product already.

    Cost $35 USD so about $150 AUD, and available in 18-24 months, when there worth about $10USD

    Maybe Brent should write articles in a size 24 font.
    The article clearly states that the unit can be attached to the rear of the TV, one doesn't need a rocket science degree to use, strong, wide sticky tape.
    (maybe the manufacturer should supply, with instructions.....)sarcasm alert)

    Does anyone know if you imported one or bought it from o'seas if there is likely to be any problem s using it here in Aus? i.e. does the damn device 'phone home' and disable itself if it detects it's being used in a non-release country...? :-/

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