Google Chromecast streaming devices review

Are you tired of squinting to watch movies and shows on a small screen? A Google Chromecast can put an end to your struggle by letting you cast videos from your phone or laptop onto a TV screen using Wi-Fi and an HDMI connection. 

A Google Chromecast is a device you plug into your TV or projector to cast videos from your laptop or mobile device onto a bigger screen. It lets you stream your favorite movies and shows from cast-enabled apps and websites. You can even mirror your Android device or laptop screen.

Google makes two streaming devices –  the Google Chromecast and the Google Chromecast Ultra. Both offer the same basic functionalities; but they differ in price, and the Google Chromecast Ultra provides a few extra features.

The Google Chromecast Ultra has several premium features, including 4K streaming — but these enhancements come with a premium price tag. The Google Chromecast offers an affordable option with enough basics to satisfy casual viewers. 

This Google Chromecast review provides a closer look at each of these devices.

Google Chromecast and Google Chromecast Ultra compared

Besides video quality, the two products share similar basic functions and offer access to the same number of apps. Neither comes with a remote, but both let you turn your smartphone or tablet into a controller. The Google Chromecast Ultra has another distinct feature — an Ethernet port, which allows a more reliable connection and smoother streaming. 

Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)Google Chromecast Ultra
Price$35$69
ResolutionUp to 1080pUp to 4K Ultra HD
Ethernet portNoYes
Smartphone/Tablet controlYesYes
Color optionsChalk, CharcoalBlack

Best Google Chromecast streaming services and apps

Providing access to your favorite streaming services, Google Chromecast devices allow you to seamlessly watch over 200,000 movies and TV shows or listen to 30 million+ songs. They even let you enjoy multiplayer games with your friends and family. All you need is a cast-enabled app, and you’re good to go.

Here are the best streaming services available in the rich Google Chromecast app library :

Netflix

You can’t have a list like this without talking about Netflix. With over 13,500+ titles worldwide and hundreds of outstanding originals like Bird Box, Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things, Netflix has become the ultimate streaming destination. 

Sling TV

Sling TV is a pioneer in live TV streaming and a budget-friendly alternative to a cable subscription. Get live access to entertainment and lifestyle channels like Comedy Central, Disney, Food Network and HGTV with the option to add premium channels like Cinemax, Showtime and Starz to your package.

ESPN+

For the sports fans out there, no streaming device would be complete without access to channels like ESPN+. This app lets you stream live broadcasts of several sporting events, including National Hockey League (NHL) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action. You can even watch original shows from top sports personalities such as Alex Morgan, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

Disney+

Get access to exclusive originals and well-loved classics from Disney with the Disney+ app. This app also lets you watch movies and shows from Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar and Star Wars. Google Chromecast Ultra users even get to enjoy select titles in 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) and high-definition range (HDR).

Picking the right Google Chromecast streaming device for you

Consider cost and added features when deciding on a Google Chromecast streaming device.

The two streaming devices are similar, except when it comes to viewing quality and price. For those interested in 4K streaming, look at the Google Chromecast Ultra. If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly option, the basic Google Chromecast is a good choice. The ideal streaming device will offer the functionalities you need while fitting within your budget.

Each Google Chromecast device has unique qualities that appeal to different people for varying reasons. We’ve broken things down to make it easier for you to pick the right option.

Most affordable device: Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

At $35, the 3rd generation Google Chromecast comes at half the price of its premium alternative. With its solid basic streaming functionality, it’s a great product for those in search of a low-cost option.

In addition, its compact design lets the device seamlessly blend in with your TV. At 2.04 X 2.04 inches, it’s slightly smaller than the Google Chromecast Ultra, which measures 2.29 X 2.29 inches.

Best streaming quality: Google Chromecast Ultra

The Google Chromecast Ultra is an excellent choice for those interested in top streaming quality — you can view supported content in gorgeous 4K UHD. Watch your favorite shows and movies from 4K-enabled apps in the highest streaming quality possible with minimal interruptions.

With an Ethernet adapter, the Google Chromecast Ultra lets you enjoy smooth streaming using a wired connection. This allows faster, more reliable streaming even if your Wi-Fi network won’t support 4K content.

Get the Google Chromecast Ultra if streaming quality is your top priority and cost isn’t a major concern.

The takeaway

When it comes to basic functionalities, both Google Chromecast products have similar offerings. But the Google Chromecast Ultra comes with a few added bells and whistles, including 4K streaming for superior image quality. So if image quality is important to you, go with the Google Chromecast Ultra. If you just need a basic streaming device, and particularly if you don’t have a 4K TV, stick with the Google Chromecast to save money.

Jacqueline Zote

Jacqueline Zote is a digital marketing and entertainment writer who makes regular contributions to Sprout Social and Recreation Insider. Her interests range from pop culture and mythology to social activism. When she’s not writing, she goes on food adventures and binges on crime drama. Her short fiction has been published by HarperCollins Publishers and Zubaan Books.