2020 Google Chromecast Ultra Review
The Google Chromecast Ultra is a streaming dongle that was released in October 2016 (R). This streaming device is a dongle that plugs into the back of your television using the HDMI port. The Ultra is Google’s 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision streaming player.
Many people, including myself consider the regular Chromecast to be very disappointing. However, the Chromecast Ultra is anything except disappointing. Cord-cutters that are looking for a 4K streamer will not be let down. By most metrics this device is fast and powerful; however, the lack of remote and standard user interface may be a deal-breaker for some.
Users must “cast” using a separate device to a television to stream tv shows, movies, and games. Chromecast works with iPhone®, iPad®, Android phone and tablet, Mac® and Windows® laptop and Chromebook.
Chromecast Ultra Hardware
Chromecast Ultra is essentially the same device as the Chromecast, a wafer sized puck, except it has better hardware. People who are fans of this dongle will find it to be far superior to the regular model.
This is a dongle device that plugs into your TV via a 3 inch HDMI cable that connects to your television’s HDMI port. You will need to connect this device to a USB power supply. The wall charger is included but you may also plug into your TV’s USB port; however, this will slow down the device considerably.
The dongle uses a system on a chip which is basically a small motherboard that holds the CPU, memory, input/output ports, and secondary storage. Google’s 4K streaming device features the powerful Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3009. This hardware helps the device stream smooth 4K Ultra HD, HDR10, and Dolby Vision.
In regards to Wi-Fi, the video streamer contains the 802.11 b/g/n/ac bands which give users both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. Also featured is an Ethernet port which is used to provide a more stable connection and to reduce lag.
Google Chromecast Ultra Performance
Users will find that the performance is a much better experience than the regular model and previous versions. There are no different features from the regular model except the Ultra dongle contains superior hardware.
The device is very snappy and the picture quality is absolutely stunning; however, 4K streams are not instant. There is a noticeable difference between using the Ethernet connection vs the Wi-Fi connection. Ethernet connections provide a much more stable and speedier connection.
Some users might find that the biggest downfall of this player is not having a remote control. The “casting” niche feature is beginning to look a little outdated compared to other devices currently on the market. With that said one feature of the new casting application is that it was redesigned to not drain your phone’s battery and can now operate in the background while you use your phone for other things.
How To Setup Chromecast Ultra
Getting set up is very easy. Simply plug in the dongle, connect the HDMI cable to your TV, and open the Google Home app in a compatible smart device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer using the Chrome browser. It will recognize the device if you are already a user of Google Home products in your household. If you have not used the Google Home app you will be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi information.
When you pull up the application you want to stream on your player, you simply hit the cast button and it relays the stream through the player to your TV. One of the main advantages of this is that it will not drain the battery of your device as quickly vs streaming on the device itself.
The dongle can be connected to any Google Home products wirelessly. Users are given the ability to use voice commands to play videos and music. Another cool feature of this dongle is that you can cast the Chrome browser basically allowing you to turn your TV into a monitor. This also allows you to turn your TV into a picture frame to display photos and screensavers.
Since there is no remote control you will control all media selection and playback control from your casting device. If you have a device that has Google Assistant then you can use your voice to control these settings. Say “Hello Google, watch Game of Thrones on Chromecast,” and it will begin playing. Voice control is also only available with select streaming applications.
Chromecast Ultra Channels and Applications
This streamer gives you access to more than 200,000 TV shows and movies and 30 million songs. There is a variety of cast enabled apps, streaming services, and you can even cast with the Chrome browser. Notably missing is Amazon Prime Video. Cord-cutters get access to just about every single application in the Google Play store.
Music and audio apps are well represented, with Spotify, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Tidal, BBC iPlayer Radio, TuneIn, and Google Podcasts among the services currently listed on Google’s Chromecast apps page.
Steaming video applications are also well represented, with Netflix, Sling TV, HBO GO and HBO Now, YouTube and YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and many more.
To see if Chromecast Ultra supports your favorite applications visit their apps page.
Google Chromecast Ultra Technical Specs
|Dimension||2.29 in L and 2.29 in H|
|Resolution||Up to 4K Ultra HD|
|Wireless||802.11ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz) 1x2 MISO Wi-Fi|
|Power||5V, 1A power supply|
|Ports||HDMI, Micro-USB, Ethernet|
|Supported Operating Systems||Android 4.2 and higher; iOS 9.1 and higher; Mac® OS X® 10.9 and higher; Windows 7 and higher|
Compare Chromecast Ultra To Other Streaming Devices
Wondering how this streaming media player stacks up vs other devices? Compare our Google Chromecast Ultra review to other popular streaming TV devices reviews. We have reviewed the most popular devices on the market including brands such as Amazon, Apple, Roku, and more. Check out our full list of device reviews here:
- AirTV – Dual network tuner that transmits OTA signals to a device connected television. Rating: 7.0; Price: Discontinued.
- AirTV Player – Unique device that combines streaming television with over-the-air antenna local channels in one platform. Rating: 6.4; Price: Discontinued.
- Amazon Fire TV Cube – Central hub for connecting and controlling all of your home theatre equipment including TV, cable box, and even audio equipment by using the Amazon Alexa voice control technology. Rating: 8.6; Price: $119.99.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick – Amazon’s budget streamer for cord-cutters looking to for 1080p resolution. Rating: 8.4; Price: $39.99.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K – Amazon’s 4K streaming stick. Great value. Rating: 9.0; Price: $49.00.
- Apple TV – Original set-top box by Apple. Rating: 8.4; Price: $149.99.
- Apple TV 4K – One of the most powerful set-top boxes on the market. Apple’s 4K version. Rating: 9.2; Price: 32G $179.99 and 64G $199.99.
- Google Chromecast Dongle that allows users to cast from a separate device. Rating: 6.4; Price: $35.00.
- Google Chromecast Ultra – Google’s 4K version of the dongle. Powerful but awkward. Rating: 7.4; Price: $69.00.
- Roku Express – Ultra budget 1080p set-top box. Rating: 7.6; Price: $29.99.
- Roku Express+ Tiny set-top box for older televisions. Rating: 7.8; Price: $35.00.
- Roku Premiere – Inexpensive 4K and HDR10 streaming box. Rating: 8.6; Price: $39.99.
- Roku Premiere+ Upgraded version of the Premiere. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
- Roku Ultra Top-of-line 4K and HDR set-top box. Rating: 9.6; Price: $99.99.
- Roku Streaming Stick Non-4K streaming stick for budget cord-cutters. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
- Roku Streaming Stick+ Very powerful 4K streaming stick for power cord-cutters. Rating: 9.6; Price: $49.99.