The Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast Audio only require a few basic gestures of a finger to cast content from small to big screens, iterating on the magic of Google's original streaming dongle. While the two nigh identical pucks look a lot a like, that's just an illusion.
Google recently announced that it has sold 20 million of the original Chromecast, and that was before it introduced the paternal pair of Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast Audio at its Nexus event last month.
While all-in-one, set-top-box options such as Amazon's Fire TV and Google's own Nexus Players are available, the introduction of the Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast audio may seem to complicate matters for some. On top of that, owners of the original Chromecast may be wondering if Chromecast 2.0 isn't really more of Chromecast 1.1.
Chromecast 2.0 or 1.1?
Like its audio streaming sibling, the new Chromecast takes on a puck-like design. That's because Google has built out its latest streaming video device with three antennas. That's why Google asserts that the latest Chromecast is faster than the original, which took on a dongle design.
Elsewhere, the new Chromecast does all the same things as the original. It pairs with any compatible mobile device over local Wi-Fi, allowing users to cast content to any TV that has an HDMI port.
The Chromecast can mirror whatever content an Android device displays. So games and webpages can hit the big time on big screens, with no pairing required.
Users can mirror content on their laptops or smartphones or tablet from apps to their TVs from apps such as Hulu, Netflix, Showtime Anytime, Watch ESPN and more. The new and old Chromecasts both support Spotify also, but the Chromecast Audio may be a better fit for the needs of audiophiles.
Priced at $35, just like the Chromecast 2.0, the Chromecast Audio's affordability allows it to stand on its own. The Chromecast audio is meant to stream audio to the best speakers any given home has.
It's possible to cast streams from music services, such as Spotify, to the Chromecast 2.0 and have the hardware broadcast audio through a home theater system. But that adds complications to a relatively simple process. Plus, it sieges a TV with sound.
The Chromecast Audio has three types of audio outputs: RCA, 3.5mm and optical. The Chromecast 2.0 has an HDMI port.
Using any of its three options for audio output, the Chromecast Audio can direct streaming music to standalone speakers, boomboxes, record players and other audio equipment in a consumer's home theater ecosystem.
Best Caster for You
The Chromecast 2.0 and Chromecast Audio have marked differences, along with an affordable $35 price that allows users collect as many as their homes can have. Since the two have distinct roles, it's more feasible to install them at media stations around a home than it is to go with a full-featured set-top box.
The distinction between the new Chromecast and the original are much less pronounced. Google has shown that it's still willing to support the original Chromecast, so there isn't much in the latest caster to warrant an upgrade yet.