Chromecast2 chromecast ultra comparison
Devices

Google Chromecast: Which one should you buy in 2021?

Google Chromecast Ultra vs Chromecast 2: Which Is Better? | Joy of Android
Chromecast Ultra vs. Chromecast 2

Let’s not deny it: streaming online content is our guilty pleasure.

But do you know what else is better?

If we watch online audio-visual content on a bigger screen. And one way to do that is to use HD streaming devices like Google Chromecast.

While modern televisions already come with built-in streaming hardware, other televisions don’t. Fortunately, there’s still a way for you to make your TV “smart.” It can be done by using a streaming device like the Chromecast.

Before:

Not everyone can stream content from Netflix, Youtube, Amazon, Hulu, and other sites using their television.

Now:

Even those who can’t afford 4K televisions or any smart TV for that matter can stream videos online. Thanks to this little but powerful game-changing device.

What is it?

Chromecast is a streaming device that comes as a small dongle which you can connect to your TV. It enables you to play internet-streamed videos or movies from your smartphone or PC to your TV through apps. It also mirrors the content that appears on your Android device or PC to your television.

As of this writing, Chromecast is on its 3rd generation. And in this article, we’ll find out what it offers in comparison with the Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Ultra.

But:

Google Chromecast is not only the player in town. Its closest rivals are Roku and Fire TV.

That’s why before we compare the 3 Chromecast, let’s first make a quick comparison with its rivals.

Related:

Google Chromecast Review: Is It Worth The Hype?

10 Best Chromecast Apps for Android

Google Chromecast Review: Is It Worth The Hype?

Chromecast Ultra vs Roku vs Fire TV

Chromecast-FireTV-Roku comparison
Chromecast, FireTV, Roku Comparison

Roku was the first one to create a streaming device back in 2008. Google and Amazon followed suit and introduced their own gadgets in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Google Chromecast Ultra, which was released in 2016, packed an additional feature that put itself on top of its rivals.

The Chromecast Ultra lets you access the TV content using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Search what you want to see from the web and with just a click, it gets cast on the television. Simply put, whatever is flashed on your phone or computer screen appears on the TV.

The main reason why you should prefer Chromecast is that it has a simple and easy-to-understand interface. It allows you to control everything from your Android device, smartphone or PC. You can easily case whatever video, movie or any other content you’re watching on your device to your TV. As simple as that.

Related: How to Set up Chromecast Using Android Phone: A Beginner’s Guide

Chromecast 2 and 3rd gen vs Chromecast Ultra: A Comparison

As easy to use as it is, the Chromecast Ultra is certainly a device to consider. However, how does it fare when put against its predecessor, the Chromecast 2 or the more recent Chromecast 3rd gen? And if you are a proud owner of the Chromecast 2, is it a good idea to upgrade to the Ultra? Or if you’re using the Ultra, is it wise to switch to the Chromecast 3rd gen?

Let’s find out.

Design

For most people, the Chromecast dongle’s design isn’t a big deal. The reason is simple: no one’s going to see it as it will only be at the back of your TV most of the time. As long as it will continue performing well, then its looks won’t matter.

Apparently, it’s still important to discuss the differences in design for practical if not for aesthetic reasons: to distinguish one from the other.

Google Chromecast 2 Design

When comparing the Chromecast 2 to its predecessor, the first-gen Chromecast, you can spot a lot of differences design-wise. The Chromecast 2 is undoubtedly way more beautiful than the chunky Chromecast clad in a plastic body.

Chromecast2 design
Chromecast 2 design

It comes with a rounded chassis with the traditional Chrome logo embellished on the side. It is offered in several eye-popping colors such as Coral and Lemonade and the usual Black paint job.

Chromecast2 colors
Chromecast 2 Colors

Google Chromecast Ultra Design

The Chromecast 2 and the latest Chromecast Ultra have the same design language we loved. The latter still retains the circular form factor and has the HDMI cable magnetically attached on its back. The only noticeable difference is that the iconic Chrome logo is replaced by the Google branding. Currently, it is only available in Black hue.

Chromecast Ultra design
Chromecast Ultra Design

Chromecast 3rd Gen Design

In this 3rd gen Chromecast, Google followed the minimalistic aesthetic introduced by the Chromecast Ultra, rather than the vibrant and stylish design of the Chromecast 2. It still retained the circular dongle design and has a 2-inch circumference. But it no longer has the small magnet found on the HDMI cable.

chromecast 3rd gen design
Chromecast 3rd Gen Design

However, it only comes in a choice of plain black or plain white. It has a subtle “G” logo that seems to blend in with the monochromatic color of the device. Some may find this “boring” and too plain, but others will love its minimalist design.

Winner: Tie

They are more or less similar when it comes to design. With only the logo and the color options as the main differences. The 3 devices are equally great. But as to which of them is the best in terms of design would ultimately boil down to personal preference. So we’ll call this a tie.

Specs

More than the physical appearance, considering the internals of a device before the purchase is the best thing you can do. By doing this, you would be able to reflect on whether it’s a good choice to shell out some of your hard-earned money on a product or not.

Google Chromecast 2 Specs

The Chromecast 2 flashes content on your TV in Full-HD, that is, 1920 x 1080 pixels. It means that even if your television is capable of 4K videos, the content will be limited to Full-HD. On the other hand, if you’re using an HD TV, the content will be downscaled to 1280 x 720 pixels.

There’s a Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus chipset, which was manufactured based on ARM architecture, placed inside the package. RAM is 512 MB while the onboard storage is rated at 256 MB.

Google Chromecast Ultra Specs

As what was previously promised by Google, the Chromecast Ultra arrived with 4K capabilities.  Also, thanks to the 4K-capable processor running at the helm. To put all your worries to rest, the Chromecast Ultra isn’t exclusive to 4K TV owners. Even if you’re using an HD or Full-HD TV, you can still have the Chromecast Ultra.

The only downside, however, is that the content will still be scaled down to fit your TV’s maximum display resolution. In short, it’s not a good choice to buy this streaming device unless you have or are planning to purchase a 4K TV with HDR support. If you are not, we advise you to stick to the Chromecast 2 or try the 3rd Gen.

Google Chromecast 3rd Gen

Compared to its predecessor (Chromecast 2), the 3rd Gen does not offer many significant changes in terms of specs. The only significant improvement is the hardware. The Chromecast 3rd Gen has better and faster hardware than the Chromecast 2. Aside from being faster, it also has a richer color, particularly on the deep blacks and blues. Other than these, everything’s pretty much the same.

It’s quite a shame that the 3rd Gen continued the 1080p output of its predecessor, rather than giving the 4K and HDR output of the Chromecast Ultra. Arguably, sticking to the 1080p is its main weakness. It does not offer anywhere near the beautiful and rich colors and tones of 4K and HDR content.

Winner: Google Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra’s innards are compatible with the best televisions on offer nowadays. With 4K and HDR support, it should make images sharper and offer an experience almost similar to that of a cinema. Apparently, you’ll just benefit from the Chromecast Ultra’s maximum capacity on a compatible television set.

Connectivity

How does a streaming device enables the television to connect to the web? Of course, using Wi-Fi and other connectivity-related mechanisms. It’s one of the most important factors you should consider before you decide to buy one. Let’s see how the Google Chromecast 2 and 3rd Gen, and Chromecast Ultra fare in this category.

Google Chromecast 2 Connectivity

The Chromecast 2 supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. You can connect it to a 5V/1A power supply using a micro-USB cable. If the TV can’t supply power, you can opt to use the adapter and the 1.75-meter cable included in the package. You can also choose to buy an ethernet adapter instead, which will grant a faster and more stable network connection.

Chromecast2 connectivity
Chromecast2 connectivity

Google Chromecast Ultra Connectivity

It’s a no-brainer to think that in order to stream a very high video content such as 4K, you need to have an insanely-fast and stable connection. Just like the Chromecast 2, the Chromecast Ultra comes with support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Better yet, it boasts a 1×2 SIMO antenna and a built-in ethernet port for lightning-fast network speeds and low latency.

Google Chromecast 3rd Gen

As already mentioned, the Chromecast 3rd Gen is essentially the same as the Chromecast 2, and that includes connectivity. It still has a Wi-Fi 802.11ac connection at 2.4GHz/5GHz, micro-USB input, and HDMI connection. Like the Chromecast 2, you can get an optional Ethernet adapter. Both devices are basically the same.

Winner: Google Chromecast Ultra

Of the 3, the Chromecast Ultra offers a faster network speed and added functionalities which would impact the connectivity aspect greatly. Also, you don’t have to purchase a different ethernet port as the Chromecast Ultra has one available out-of-the-box.

Features

Aside from those mentioned above, the 3 streaming devices still have a lot more to offer. What are the features that the Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Ultra have in common? And what did the Chromecast 3rd Gen bring new to the table? How do they differ? Check the comparison here:

Google Chromecast 2 Features

Starting with the Chromecast 2, mirroring is now available on Google’s streaming gadgets. For starters, the mirroring functionality “mirrors” whatever is on your screen so basically, you can’t proceed to do your stuff while your phone is connected to the TV. Casting, on the other hand, only requires to send the content to the television and lets you do your thing afterward.

Google Chromecast Ultra Features

The Chromecast Ultra works perfectly with Google Home smart speaker. Considering that the Chromecast Ultra doesn’t come in with remote control, Google Home can function like one by allowing the user to play, pause, and skip videos. The Chromecast Ultra also supports Dolby Vision to enhance the viewing experience even more.

Chromecast Ultra google home
Chromecast Ultra and Google Home

Chromecast 3rd Gen Features

The 3rd Gen Chromecast sports the same intuitive interface of the Chromecast 2 and Ultra. It’s easy to use and understand. It retains that “mirror” feature that allows you to mirror any content you’re viewing on your Android device or PC to your TV. It also features a wider content than Chromecast 2 and supports more apps. Other than these, it’s pretty much the same with Chromecast 2.

Winner: Google Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra has all the features the Chromecast 2 and 3rd Gen offer and more. The added functionalities should improve the overall experience and complement the setup very well.

Suggested reads:

Android Mirror Cast

How to Set up Chromecast Using your Android Phone: A Beginner’s Guide

Google Chromecast: Which Version is the Best?


FAQs

How does Chromecast work?

Chromecast works by connecting the device (small dongle) on your TV. Once connected, you can just “mirror” whatever video, movie or any content for that matter that you are viewing on your device or PC to your TV.

Will Chromecast work without the internet?

Ideally, Chromecast works when connected to a Wi-Fi. However, you can still use it without the internet by setting up a local network. But make sure that your firmware is up-to-date. To do this, open a Google Cast-ready app and then tap on the “Cast” button.

Can Chromecast turn the TV on?

Yes, you can. But your TV must support HDMI-CEC with CEC. You can do it using voice command and Google Home.

Which Chromecast to buy?

Based on our research, clearly Google Chromecast Ultra is the winner and should be your first choice Chromecast to buy.


The Verdict: Which is Better

When asked which of the 3 is better, the answer is crystal clear: the Google Chromecast Ultra. Higher-end specs, faster and more stable connectivity, additional features- all these will greatly impact the performance, for the better.

Chromecast Ultra
Watching TV with Chromecast Ultra

By paying $69, the Chromecast Ultra is all yours. It is worth mentioning, however, that it costs double the price of Chromecast 2 or Chromecast 3rd Gen. The latter is only priced at $35. While it might seem a little pricey when compared to the others, the Chromecast Ultra’s pricing is still cheap for devices with 4K support.

So, would we recommend the Chromecast Ultra? Yes, if you own a 4K TV with HDR support. Like we said before, you still can get the most out of the Chromecast Ultra even if you only have an HD or Full-HD television.

Chromecast 2 is a great device as well and it will suit your Full-HD TV even more. For a faster network speed, choose to buy an ethernet cable worth $15. In just a total of $50, you can have a fitting streaming gadget and fast connection, saving you at least 19 bucks.

Unfortunately, the Chromecast 3rd Gen did not bring much new to the table. It’s essentially the same as the Chromecast 2, only faster. It may be faster than the Chromecast 2 and it may offer a wider variety of content, but it isn’t innovative in any way. The only advantage it has over the Chromecast Ultra is its price. Other than that, it feels a little behind the times.

Did you find our suggestion beneficial? How did this Chromecast Ultra vs Chromecast 2 and 3rd Gen comparison article help you? Tell us in the comments and we’ll be glad to connect with you.

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the helpful information… I have a 55″ inch TV in my living room which is a 2010.. It’s an Insigna. It still has a beautiful screen… I also have a Samsung TV in my bedroom which is a 2016.. I wasn’t sure if I could use the Google Chromecast on my TV’s because they are older models… Thank you so much. I was watching movies on my tablet… I’m a happy camper now.. I going to buy the Google Chromecast 2nd generation or the Google Chromecast Ultra…?

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