On October 4, 2016, Google announced a new $69 (not $35) Chromecast device: Chromecast Ultra.
This post will try to help you understand the differences between Chromecast 2nd Gen and Chromecast Ultra, and help you decide whether you need a Chromecast Ultra.
Is Chromecast Ultra for 4K TV only?
One of the most prominent features of Chromecast Ultra is supporting 4K video streaming.
But this does NOT mean Chromecast Ultra is only for 4K TV owners.
If you only have a Full HD (1080p) TV, compared to Chromecast 2nd gen, Chromecast Ultra can still offer some nice new and improved features:
- High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. Of course, HDR contents are still very limited. YouTube and Google Play will gradually join Netflix and Amazon for streaming HDR contents. HDR-ready TV is also needed to enjoy the benefits. We will discuss this in detail in a separate post.
- Faster WiFi speed with SIMO. We already see the significant WiFi speed improvement in Chromecast 2nd Gen due to 802.11ac support. Chromecast Ultra will be (and must be) even faster to stream 4K contents.
- Optional Ethernet port in the power adapter. So, the bundled power adapter is like the official $15 Ethernet adapter for Chromecast.
In short, if you own a 4K TV with HDR support, or plan to get a 4K TV in next a few months, Chromecast Ultra is a better choice than Chromecast 2nd gen.
If you don’t own a 4K TV and will not own it in next a few months, Chromecast 2nd Gen probably is sufficient for you. But if you need a faster connection, you can consider to get the $15 Ethernet adapter or upgrade to Chromecast Ultra.
Please note, most TVs made in 2015 and before may not support HDR. If you are planning to buy a new TV, you should check and buy an HDR-ready TV(e.g., this one) to enjoy HDR contents.
Please read this guide on the requirements of using Chromecast Ultra to stream 4K contents.
Chromecast Ultra works with Google Home
I guess Chromecast, Chromecast Audio will also work with Google Home, although Google didn’t announce this.
So, if you already pre-ordered Google Home, it very likely works with your old Chromecast, Chromecast 2nd gen and Chromecast Audio.
Why is this new Chromecast device named as Chromecast Ultra?
Only Google may know why it is named as Chromecast Ultra.
My guess is due to its support 0f 4K streaming. 4K (2160p) and 8K (4320p) are usually referred to as Ultra high definition (or UHD).
The 4th generation of Chromecast (Chromecast with Google TV; Chromecast 2020) is the second Chromecast device with 4K HDR support.
Is Chromecast Ultra overpriced?
Chromecast Ultra will cost you $69, almost twice of the $35 price tag for Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio.
Of course, Chromecast is very unique. It is hard to compare the value with other streaming devices.
Anyway, in my opinion, Chromecast Ultra is not overpriced. The thin profit margin is similar to that for Chromecast and Chromecast Audio.
What’s your thought on Chromecast Ultra?
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For Chromecast Audio guides, please visit the Chromecast Audio guide page.
If your question is on Chromecast including both 1st generation Chromecast, and new Chromecast (aka Chromecast 2015), Chromecast 3rd Gen (Chromecast 2018), and Chromecast 2020 (Chromecast with Google TV), please visit Chromecast how-to guides page.