Google launched Chromecast Audio and a Chromecast in the US last year, and after almost six months, Google has brought the two Wi-Fi based streaming devices to India. The Chromecast Audio and the new Chromecast are available via online and offline channels, priced at Rs 3,399 each. We have spent some time with both the devices and here are our first impressions.
The Chromecast Audio and the new Chromecast look pretty much the same with their round-shaped disk design which reminds you of old vinyl records. The device is quite light weight, though plastic build doesn’t really assure me of its sturdiness. In terms of design, the new Chromecast has now embraced the round shape as compared to the dongle-like design of the first generation.
Here’s how the new Chromecast and the original Chromecast look like.
First up is the Chromecast Audio. As the name suggests, the device is meant for audio streaming.
To set up, you need to have a speaker with connectivity options such as 3.5mm audio jack, RCA or optical ports. The Chromecast Audio is bundled with the 3.5mm audio cable, which makes a lot of sense as I believe majority of users have speakers with the 3.5mm standard. Connect the Chromecast Audio with the cable to your speakers. The Chromecast Audio also needs constant power so keeping it closer to the switch board or any other USB-supported device, say laptop or TV is recommended.
To make the Chromecast Audio work, both your smartphone and the streaming device have to be on the same Wi-Fi network. Download the Chromecast app from the Google Play store or Apple app store on your smartphone. Launch the Chromecast app, choose the Devices tab, and tap on the Chromecast Audio. The app will detect the Chromecast Audio and will prompt you to connect it to the Wi-Fi network you are on. A test tone is played on your speaker to alert that the device has successfully connected.
Now that your Chromecast Audio is active, the Chromecast app will show several supported applications. Wynk and Saavn are the two major music streaming apps that right now support the Chromecast platform. When you launch the Saavn app, you will see the Cast icon on the top, tap on it to play. Interestingly, you can also Mirror music from your Android phone or tablet. You can also connect to multiple Chromecast Audio devices at once.
One of the most interesting features on the new Chromecast is the Guest mode. This allows your friends to stream to your speakers without needing to be on your Wi-Fi network. After having installed the Chromecast app, your friends need to tap on the Cast icon, choose the nearby device. Follow the steps as they appear. Your friends can also connect to the Chromecast Audio through a 4-digit pin, which is available on the “Device” tab of the owner’s Google Cast app.
Though the initial set up may seem a bit complicated, it is all pretty straightforward when you are doing it, and after that it works fluidly. You might wonder why one needs to spend another Rs 3,000 for streaming music, which you can do so with Bluetooth enabled speakers. One of the advantages you get from Wi-Fi based streaming device is that it is lesser power draining for your smartphone and has wider coverage. With playback controls, you can work on other applications on your smartphone as well. Also, Bluetooth notifications continuously disturb your music experience.
The process of setting up the new Chromecast is similar to the older Chromecast. You need to follow the same procedure just mentioned earlier for the Chromecast Audio. Once you have connected, the Chromecast gets a small update before it starts working. Besides design, the new Chromecast has better Wi-Fi tech under the hood that allows uninterrupted streaming. You can use the Guest mode and other suggested applications to stream content on your display or mirror your smartphone.
Besides regular streaming video streaming applications such as YouTube and Netflix, you can also use Chromecast to play mobile games such as Angry Birds Go. The compatible games will show a Cast icon, tap on it to cast the game on the bigger display. You can use the smartphone as the remote. It also supports multi-player so your friends can also join in the compatible games. Google at the launch event said it is making gaming APIs available to developers to encourage more Chromecast compatible games. Right now the catalog has games such as Just Dance and Driver Speed.
During our brief usage, I didn’t really notice any major difference in the working of the older Chromecast and the new Chromecast. The older Chromecast has worked fine so far. The only subtle difference I could spot was the speed of mirroring the content, which was relatively fast with the new device.
If you are already a Chromecast user, you won’t be a lot excited about the new version, perhaps the new design may be a good reason to have it for your living room. The original Chromecast is available online for Rs 2,500 whereas the new version costs about Rs 1,000 extra.
Revamped Chromecast app
Besides the two new hardware, one of the major highlights of is the revamped Chromecast app, which is more intuitive for users. The Chromecast app is available for both iOS and Android platforms. It has three tabs — What’s On, Devices and Get Apps.
The first tab shows the trending content from YouTube and Google Play store. The Device tab is for managing and controlling your Chromecast and Chromecast Audio. The Get Apps section shows you recommended applications you to download to make most of the Chromecast. The section has suggestions for categories like movies, sports, music and photography. Scrolling down, tap on the Browse All Apps to go through all the compatible apps you should download.
Overall, the new Chromecast devices bring in a fresh and unique experience. You should definitely try out these two new devices.