Though not released yet, the Chromecast Ultra is intriguing on a few levels.
Promises of faster streaming, 4K UHD resolution and Ethernet cable connectivity make this a device that may be exactly what you need. But with a perfectly good Chromecast available for half the price, is it worth the extra cash?
This isn’t a simple yes or no question. It’s also not a matter of sheer specs, either.
With Chromebooks, tablets or phones, if the spec sheet reads better, the device (many times) is simply better. End user experience after time spent with a device is clearly the most important factor when choosing tech toys, and to that end, this choice isn’t just as simple as a spec comparison.
You can see the full specs of the Chromecast here and the Chromecast Ultra here as well. But, with these things, specs don’t matter all that much. After all, who is talking about the processor, memory, or RAM in their Chromecast?
No one. That’s who.
We simply care that it works. I’ll be the first to admit that the 2nd gen Chromecast is a bit zippier than its predecessor, but not by much. Littered through our office are multiple 1st-gen Chromecasts and I never give it a thought that they are not the latest, greatest devices.
We don’t really need to worry ourselves with specs, but more with capabilities. A few differentiating features can make it very clear whether or not the newest Chromecast is for you.
4K Video Support
First up is the obvious feature: 4K. Do you have a 4K screen? Do you plan on buying one soon? If so, you will want to consider the newer Chromecast Ultra.
For me, our televisions are all 1080p around the house, so the addition of 4K isn’t a real draw. I actually bought a 4K TV last winter and wasn’t pleased with the TV or the confusion of HDMI types that will or won’t work with 4K. Upon its return, I happily settled on a FHD TV and have been happy not to worry about whether or not my satellite, Blueray, or streaming devices are or are not pushing 4K.
But, everyone is different and all of our needs are different.
The second factor that may intrigue folks about the Chromecast Ultra is the addition of an ethernet cable port. Wifi routers can struggle with the throughput needed for streaming 4K content, and as more and more services are offering their media in 4K, the struggle will continue.
In a scenario where your router is too weak or your television is simply too far from the router, this little addition could make streaming that data-hungry 4K video a much more consistent experience. Around offices, this could be a big deal as well. If you are considering using a Chromecast as a screen casting device for meetings, a hard connection could save you embarrassment from a flaky router.
If you’ve ever been in a meeting, trying to present to a client in some digital, wireless fashion and had the Wifi fail you, you know the pain. It’s uncomfortable and awkward.
The Chromecast Ultra will avoid these issues.
I Don’t Care About That Stuff
What if you simply don’t need 4K video or a hard-wired ethernet connection? Is the Chromecast Ultra worth the larger pricetag?
I’m going to say no.
Going back to the fact that even the 1st gen Chromecasts work quite well, it becomes extremely difficult to suggest someone buying the Chromecast Ultra unless their needs meet the ones stated above. At twice the price, the Chromecast Ultra, for now, seems like it will only serve a small subset of the public. People in need of 4K and/or a flawless connection.
As the original Chromecast still hits that beautiful balance of being super-affordable and highly usable, I’m sticking with it for the time being. As 4K evolves and takes over most media, I’ll change over. For now, I’m staying put.
How about you? Are you getting the latest/greatest from Google or are you happy with the original?