The Chromecast was originally introduced in 2013 to easily enjoy online entertainment on the TV. 2013 was the year when Android KitKat was released and when TVs were not as smart as they are now. Fast forward 5 years and Google released its third iteration of the Chromecast. Is it still needed in today’s day and age? And how does it compare to its peers? Well, let’s find this out in our review of the Chromecast 3rd Generation.
The Chromecast 3 has a cleaner design (or boring as some might find) than before. Gone are the vibrant colours of the previous iteration as you’ll only find Black & White options, both matte, with a small neat Google logo in the centre. But since it’ll find a place behind a TV in most cases, that shouldn’t be a big deal. The biggest change is the absence of the magnet on the HDMI cable that used to help tuck the device neatly. This might put stress on the HDMI cable in the long term and tamper with the connection.
The device has a microUSB port for power. The package contains both a power adapter and a microUSB cable to either power the device via a TV or a socket.
The Chromecast is very easy to set up and it only takes a couple of seconds to get started once you get it out of the box. To operate the Chromecast 3, you need to get the Google Home application from the Play Store or App Store. Once downloaded, you just have to enter the WiFi password and then let the app do its work and get connected to the Chromecast.
For me, the entire set up process just took about 2 minutes. And once connected, I was all set to watch the content I love on a bigger and a better screen.
Google’s Chromecast Interface is probably the cleanest and simplest of all out there. Unless and until you play anything, the screen on your TV only shows some preset images along with the time. You can connect Google Photos in the Home application to show photos from your own gallery when nothing is playing via Chromecast.
The Google Home application is also pretty simple to navigate through. The home screen shows you different applications that are supported by the Chromecast and content suggestions from these different services and applications. You need not quit the application to play anything. You can command your phone to do that for you with the help of Google Assistant. But if you want Google Assistant to play or stream content of your choice, you have to link your different accounts with the Google Home application the first time around.
The Chromecast 3 is not that different from its previous iteration. But where it gets an edge is its performance due to updated internal hardware. According to Google, the Chromecast 3 is up to 15% faster. While there is an improvement, it’s not too drastic. So if you have a Chromecast 2 I’d recommend you to skip the Chromecast 3 right away.
Once the Google Home application is connected to the Chromecast, a Casting button pops up in all applications that are supported. Playing content on your TV is as simple as clicking this button and selecting your TV. I tried YouTube and Netflix and took no more than 10-15 seconds for all videos to play on my TV. But it’s important to note that these loading times also depend on the internet speed of the connected WiFi.
The performance is pretty satisfactory and I don’t have any complaints as such, of course, apart from its inability to stream 4K content. The Chromecast 3 maxes out 1080p at 60fps. Considering how mainstream 4K TVs have become, this is an important omission and might be a dealbreaker for many.
Chromecast also supports Screen Casting along with audio. While it only supports a few models officially, the beta version of the feature lets you use almost any phone. I personally tried using the Vivo V11 Pro that is not officially supported, and it worked perfectly fine. The audio quality was surprisingly good. Since services like Apple Music & Amazon Prime Video are not officially supported by the Chromecast for obvious reasons, I found myself using Screen Casting to use these services.
One thing I was really happy with is the ability of the phone to play and stream content independently of what’s being streaming to your TV. So if you’re streaming a YouTube video for your sister to watch, you can still enjoy media content on your phone without interrupting the Chromecast experience. You can also connect your phone to a Bluetooth speaker or earphones to play music while still streaming to your TV.
All in all, the Chromecast 3 is a good option to stream content to your TV and covers a wide range of video and music streaming services like JioCinema, Netflix, Gaana, Saavn, Hungama, Eros Now, Hotstar, Dailymotion to name a few. But if you’re looking to stream 4K content, I’d ask you to look elsewhere.
Conclusion & Comparison
If you’re not happy with your existing Smart TVs capabilities, then the Chromecast 3 is a great option to enjoy content on your TV. But if you’re looking for one that can stream 4K content, you can consider both the Fire Stick and the Mi Box (not officially available in India).
The regular Fire Stick is available for INR 3,999 while the 4K compatible one will cost you INR 5,999. Both these options come with an Alexa-enabled remote control, something that the Chromecast unfortunately lacks. The Amazon Fire Stick also has data monitoring options to help you control usage if you have limited bandwidth.
The Mi Box, while not officially available in India, can be ordered via GearBest for a price of approx INR 4,500. The Mi Box has received great reviews worldwide for offering 4K HDR capabilities and yet being so affordable. The Mi Box runs on Android OS and comes with remote control. For its price, the Mi Box gives some tough competition to the Chromecast. Its availability and support for low frame rates in live TV streaming apps are the only major caveats.
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