This April, Google finally officially launched the new Chromecast in India. The streaming dongle costs Rs 3,399 and is available for purchase online as well as in offline stores. Chromecast 2, as the new Chromecast is colloquially known, is praised by techies, but it can leave the common man confused.
Not a lot of people know what the Chromecast exactly does, or whether they should buy it. Existing Chromecast users want to know if they should upgrade. So here’s a quick guide to help answer all your questions.
What does Chromecast do?
Put simply, the Chromecast lets you play photos, videos, or music from laptops / tablets / phones on your TV. No wires needed!
Google’s Chromecast is a dongle that fits into your TV’s HDMI port. It needs power to work. Much like charging a phone, you can fit its cable into a power socket or into a USB-port on your TV.
How do you set Up Chromecast?
It’s super simple. Here’s all you’ll need:
1) A Google Chromecast
2) A Chromecast charger cable (standard micro-USB to USB).
3) A Wi-Fi network with an active internet connection.
Plug the Chromecast into the TV, and switch to the HDMI port. Start the Google Cast app on your phone or tablet. Follow the on-screen instructions and you should be set up in a matter of minutes. Just remember, your phone and your TV need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
What can I use it for?
Once set up, the Chromecast is an extraordinarily valuable tool. It has a bunch of uses, which can help turn your regular old TV into a smart TV, and lets your phone talk to it.
1) You can browse Netflix on your phone, but watch the videos on your TV.
2) Similarly, you can browse YouTube, Spuul, and several other apps supported in India.
3) Photos on your phone can be shown on the big screen, with the Google Photos app.
4) Like videos and photos, you can cast music from supported apps like Google Play Music to your TV to use any speakers connected to it.
5) With the Chrome browser on your desktop, you can cast any tab or your entire computer’s screen to the TV. It’s fantastic for presentations.
6) Similarly, you can mirror your entire Android device’s screen on the TV.
7) Chromecast-supported Android games can be played on the big screen.
What can’t I use it for?
Google Chromecast 2 isn’t perfect. While there’s a lot you can do with it, it isn’t the answer to all your phone-to-TV or laptop-to-TV needs.
1) Casting your screen or tab lets you see any website or video on the big screen. But be prepared for a low frame rate, which can spoil the viewing experience.
2) Not every video, photo, or music app is supported. For example, Apple Music is available in India, but doesn’t work on Chromecast. But hey, Saavn works just fine!
3) Games that don’t inherently support Chromecast are decent enough to play if you cast the whole screen, but again, you might see some lag. It depends on your Wi-Fi connection.
4) Any app that doesn’t support Chromecast won’t play. This includes several popular Indian services like Hotstar, StarSports.com, Apple Music, and more.
What makes Chromecast 2 better than Chromecast 1?
Speaking of Wi-Fi connections, that’s where the Chromecast 2 is far superior to the original Chromecast (read our review). Chromecast 2 supports the 801.11/ac Wi-Fi standard, and can be connected to a 5GHz frequency.
The original Chromecast was limited to 802.11 N standard with 2.4GHz frequency. In layman’s terms, the new Chromecast is faster and thus appears smoother—especially when casting your screen to play games.
Chromecast 2 also has a better design than the original. It’s a flexible HDMI wire, connected to a circular dongle. This helps you connect the Chromecast 2 in tight spaces where the original one could not be connected, or where the original one (which looked like a large USB drive) would block adjoining ports.
Do I need to upgrade my old Chromecast?
If you have an original Chromecast and it’s working perfectly well, there isn’t a compelling reason to upgrade. The 5GHz frequency is the biggest improvement in the new one, and that is not so convincing for an upgrade unless you have:
1) A Wi-Fi ac router
2) A smartphone or tablet that supports Wi-Fi ac and 5GHz frequency
3) A need to play Android games on the big screen
For most people, these aren’t good enough reasons to buy the new Chromecast. Judge for yourself if you fit into this.
The best Chromecast apps for India
I know what you’re thinking. Devices like this are great, but the number of services in India are so limited that you might not get a great experience. Well, surprisingly, a whole bunch of great apps and services support Chromecast.
• To stream movies and TV shows: Netflix , Spuul , Hooq , Eros Now , Wynk , Hungama
• To stream music: Saavn , Wynk , Hungama
• To cast movies and music stored on phone or laptop: Plex , VideoStream , Google Play Music
• To cast or stream your photos or videos: Google Photos , AllCast
• Other great apps: Polaris Office , TED , Angry Birds Friends , Snake Game.
Who should buy Chromecast?
• Do you use streaming apps like Netflix or Spuul?
• Is your TV hooked up to quality speakers that are better than your laptop or Bluetooth speakers?
• Do you like showing your photos to friends at parties?
• Do you watch a lot of movies and TV shows on your laptop, which you’d prefer to watch on your TV?
If this sounds like you, go get a Chromecast right now. It’ll make your life tremendously easier, with its wire-free, hassle-free setup.