What is Google Chromecast?

Google Chromecast plugs into your TV and grants easy access to multiple streaming services, from Netflix and YouTube to Google Play.

What is Google Chromecast? Simply put, it’s a cheap and easy way to stream video content right to your TV.

Google Chromecast ($35) is one of the best streaming devices. It plugs into your TV and grants easy access to multiple streaming services, from Netflix and YouTube to Hulu and Google Play. You can even throw — or “cast”— content from your smartphone or the Chrome browser on your laptop to your big screen. But Chromecast doesn’t work the same way as competing devices like Apple TV or Roku.

  • The best streaming services
  • Best streaming devices

Use this FAQ to get up to speed on Google Chromecast and decide if it’s right for you.

What is Google Chromecast?

Chromecast is a device that you plug into your TV’s HDMI port, powered by a USB cable (included). Using your smartphone or computer as a remote control, you can use Chromecast to access video content from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, the Google Play Store and other services. You can also use it to stream almost any kind of content from the Chrome browser on a laptop or desktop computer.

When you’re not streaming anything in Chromecast, it simply posts beautiful desktop backgrounds, in its Ambient Mode. You might notice quality dip, though, and a lowered frequency in new art. Google announced that it’s making these changes to reduce stress on bandwidth, prioritizing traffic for video calls and other more pressing content.

What is the difference between Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra?

There are two varieties of Chromecast. The regular Chromecast costs $35 and broadcasts content at up to 1080p. The Chromecast Ultra costs $70 and can broadcast content at up to 4K resolutions with HDR color technology.

In terms of channel selection and overall functionality, the two devices are identical. It’s worth noting, though, that the Chromecast Ultra has a built-in port for an Ethernet cable, but also requires an external power source, rather than a USB connection built into your TV. You can also see how the Chromecast Ultra stands up to its competition in our Chromecast vs Fire TV vs Roku face-off.

Is there a Google Chromecast remote?

News surrounding a Chromecast Ultra 2 keeps popping up, including the fact that the Taiwanese certification agency NCC approved both a new Chromecast Ultra and a remote for that device. Then, we saw news of the FCC approving a new Google remote, and that its model number is very similar to the model number of the aformentioned Chromecast Ultra 2, which suggests that the two devices will be sold separately.

This would make a ton of sense, giving the “we want a remote” crowd an option to upgrade while not forcing said remote on people who prefer using their phone.

Why would people want a remote? Personally, I’m always fighting the impulse to use my phone as I watch TV, as it’s a big distraction from what I’m trying to watch.

How does Google Chromecast work?

While it might appear that you’re sending the video from your device to the Chromecast, most of the time it’s doing something more simple. Your connected device is merely telling your Chromecast what you want to play, and then the Chromecast will stream that media, using its own connection to the internet.

Of course, you can also use a Chromecast to mirror your phone, tablet or laptop’s screen on your TV. This requires a lot more active intent, as your device cannot be put to sleep or unlocked, without the feed going down.

Where’s the Google Chromecast app?

Practically everything has an app, but there isn’t a dedicated Google Chromecast app. Instead, you’ll use Google Home (Google Play, iOS) app, where you have controls for your active Chromecast streams.

what is Google Chromecast - the Chromecast fits right in your hand

The Google Home widgets on both platforms are valuable for easy access to the controls you need for pausing and fast forwarding, though scanning through long movies and events can be very hard when you’re tapping the on-screen progress bar.

Where is the Google Chromecast extension?

I spent way too much time looking for a Chromecast extension, but you don’t need to download anything new to get Chrome to work with Chromecast.

If you don’t see a Chromecast button in the menu bar, just click the three dots button in the top corner, and select Cast. Then, you can see the available devices to send video to your TV.

To keep the button there, right click on the Cast logo and select Always show icon.

What can I watch on Google Chromecast?

Chromecast has access to video and audio content from many services. Google keeps track of many of these on its official site, although there is no comprehensive list. Ever since Google released the software development kit for Chromecast, new apps have been springing up frequently, so keep an eye out for more apps.

  • Best streaming devices
  • Best wireless screen-mirroring devices

Can I control Google Chromecast with my voice?

Yes. Previously, you needed to route your Chromecast commands through a Google Home device, but now, you can give vocal commands directly through Google Assistant. Google has complete Chromecast setup instructions, but the functionality is pretty self-explanatory. Simply connect your Chromecast and your phone to the same network, and you can cast music and videos to your TV with just a few words.

  • Best Google Home smart speakers

Can I travel with a Chromecast?

Due to its small size and easy setup, the Chromecast may seem like a boon for frequent travelers. However, Chromecast does not support captive portals — networks that require browser-based logins. As such, the Chromecast is not terribly useful in most hotels and universities. Still, if you do take your Chromecast with you and find a Wi-Fi network without a captive portal, changing the login details is not too difficult.

Are there any Chromecast alternatives?

Yes, but it depends how much you’re willing to spend. A $30, a Roku Express will also allow you to stream content to your TV, although the device’s design is not as good as the Chromecast’s overall.

An Apple TV costs $150 and functions much like a Roku box, but can also stream content (like games) from your iPhone or iPad to your TV. You could also stream content through a PS4 or Xbox One, but these devices cost hundreds of dollars.

How does Google Stadia work with Chromecast?

When Google Stadia, the company’s game-streaming service, launches in November, Chromecast will initially be the only way to play Stadia games on your TV. (Unless, of course, you simply cut out the middleman and attach a computer to your television set.)

For more Google-related tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our complete guide to Google Assistant.

Google Chromecast: Cheat sheet

The third-generation Google Chromecast was recently announced on October 9, 2018, following a Google hardware event in New York City. With the first version released in 2013, and a second-generation model introduced in 2015, this is Google’s first update to the Chromecast family in three years, and features an updated design, slightly faster processing speed, as well as all of the same features of the second-generation Chromecast model.

This cheat sheet has everything you need to know about the Chromecast device up to this point, and is a “living document” that will be updated as more information about the device is released.

What is Google Chromecast?

Google Chromecast is a video streaming device that plugs directly into the back of your TV via an HDMI port. The device is designed to screen mirror supported app content onto your TV, so it requires users to be in range of a Wi-Fi network. The latest version was announced on October 9, 2018, and features an updated design and faster processing speed. It is designed to be an affordable, compact option for users wanting to cut the cord on cable TV and move to streaming services.

Additional resources

  • Google Chromecast is all-new, sort of (CNET)
  • Chromebooks: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
  • Google releasing fix for Chromecast Wi-Fi crashes (ZDNet)

What features and specifications does the Google Chromecast include?

Google Chromecast is a 162mm-long, 13.8mm-wide round puck with an HDMI cable sticking out of the side, making it a member of the streaming dongle family. Weighing a mere 1.41 oz, the device comes in matte chalk and charcoal colors and a faint Google logo, while the old one featured a bright, glossy finish with a Chrome logo. It has micro-USB power and the HDMI cable plugs directly into either the USB port or HDMI port in your TV.

The Chromecast model can stream video at full standard 1080p resolution, rather than 720p that the last version featured. Google Chromecast supports all wireless networks, including 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

The device allows Chromecast users to stream thousands of apps from a device to their TVs. Just a few of the popular supported apps are Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube through which you stream app by app, casting the video content from your mobile device or tablet onto the TV. It also works with supported laptops.

In order to connect a device to Google Chromecast, you must download the Chromecast app and have both the Chromecast and the device you wish to cast from on the same network. Chromecast, itself, doesn’t come with a remote, so different apps would have to be navigated within each device. You can use Chromecast if you own an Android device or iOS device, as well a Mac or Windows operating systems; apps then cast to the device through a cast button in the UI.

To charge Google Chromecast, use the power adapter and cable provided upon purchase. The device supports standard 5V, 1A power supplies.

Additional resources

  • Google rolls out Chrome OS 69: Here’s what the pros need to know (TechRepublic)
  • Google Pixelbook is a ‘high-performance Chromebook’ for professionals (TechRepublic)
  • Google Pixel phone: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Who is the target audience for the Google Chromecast?

Users looking to cut the cord from cable and traveling business professionals are the target audience for the Google Chromecast. If you already have subscriptions to apps like Netflix and Hulu, then Chromecast is a great, inexpensive option to stream those services, but users do have to have their own Hulu or Netflix accounts. And the device’s compact size makes it easy to transport for professionals on the go or those who travel regularly.

The latest version of Chromecast runs 15% faster, reported the Verge, so users can expect to watch their shows with less potential lag time or buffering.

Additional resources

  • G Suite: Tips and tricks for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
  • Developers can now code on Chromebooks thanks to Linux support on ChromeOS (TechRepublic)
  • Here are the latest Chrome OS devices that will support Linux apps (TechRepublic)

How much does the Google Chromecast cost?

The standard Google Chromecast streaming device costs $35, one of the most inexpensive video streaming services on the market. In comparison, the Apple TV costs $169, while the Roku Streaming Stick is $49.

How does the Google Chromecast differ from Google Chromecast Ultra?

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra really only differ in two major ways: Video quality and price point. Unlike the regular Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra is able to stream content in 4K Ultra HD and HDR. Because of this feature, Chromecast Ultra is nearly double the price of the standard version, totaling $69 instead.

Additional resources

  • Google Pixelbook: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
  • Google Assistant: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
  • Online sports are about to get actual real-time streaming (ZDNet)
  • Google announces Pixelbook laptop with Assistant, 4-in-1 design (ZDNet)

What are the major competitors to the Google Chromecast?

Media streaming devices are becoming more and more popular with the growth of streaming music and video. With that said, there are quite a view major competitors in the media streaming industry, such as the Roku Streaming Stick+, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Apple TV.

The major perks of the other devices is that they all come with a remote control and support 4K video. They all also have a streaming interface built into the system, so all streamable apps are in one organized place. However, Chromecast is the cheapest option when compared to the latest versions of the competitor brands.

Additional resources

  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch: The smart person’s guide (TechRepublic)
  • Pixel 3, new Chromecast, Pixel Slate, Home Hub and more: Everything we expect from the Google event today (CNET)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro: The smart person’s guide (TechRepublic)
  • Amazon adds 4K streaming to the Fire TV Stick (ZDNet)
  • Amazon to begin selling Apple TV and Google Chromecast again (ZDNet)

Where and when can I buy the third generation Google Chromecast?

The latest Chromecast is available for purchase now from the Google Store in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway. Singapore, Sweden, and the US. More countries are expected to follow in 2019. It can also be purchased on various third-party websites and in brick-and-mortar retail chains around the world.