Chromecast Ultra at home Part 1

The Google Chromecast Ultra seems like an odd choice for many consumers who already have a Smart TV, are using a media player, or accustomed to watching media on their PC or tablet. Google markets the device as an accessory for adding audio and video streaming functionality to a display or basic TV for a price much less than buying a set-top box or newer display.

Users who move from one place to another regularly, and who use either Android or Chrome OS, however, can get plenty of mileage from the compact and extremely reliable device. Although any device where Google Chrome can be installed, such as Macs, iOS, and Windows devices, can ostensibly benefit from Chromecast, the media streaming accessory works best if you have an Android smartphone or tablet. Even FireOS, which is based off of Android, has limited  support for the Chromecast Ultra (for the obvious reason that Amazon has their own streaming products).

This article uses an AOC 22” display, a Moto G4 Plus (Android 7.0), MacBook Air (macOS Sierra), an Acer Aspire ES 11, a mini-PC running Fedora 25, a Fire HD 8, Surface Pro 4 (Windows 10 Pro) and an iPad 2 (iOS9). The Chromecast Ultra was tested with a Slingshot Fibre broadband service in Auckland.

Set up and design

As a documentations engineer, I really like that there’s only one insert in the Chromecast Ultra box. Moreover, the simplicity of the packaging is preferable over fancy layers and extra plastic seals.

The Chromecast’s black shiny plastic aesthetics is wasted unless your HDMI port is in front of the display or TV. However, the magnetic surface for folding the HDMI cable inwards is pretty useful if you pack it away with other devices with loose cables.

The Chromecast Ultra has similar functionality to its smaller and more colourful brother, the Chromecast. However, apart from obvious performance improvements, it also has an integrated Ethernet port in its power connector, which makes it a totally different product altogether. Although an optimised Wi-Fi home network (in theory) should make streaming as reliable and consistent as a wired LAN connection, most consumers use the Wi-Fi on the CPE from their broadband or fibre provider, which generally means mediocre to a pretty bad Wi-Fi experience. The Ethernet port on the power adapter allows users to connect the Chromecast Ultra directly to their broadband connection, leaving the Android device or Chrome client for use as a control source only, not the primary source of streaming data.

Once the Chromecast Ultra is inserted into your display’s HDMI port, it hangs to one side if the power plug is too far. Connecting a Cat6e cable may pull the whole assembly slightly, so make sure that the Ethernet cable is long enough, or close enough to the device for enough cable slack. Unlike the moronic design of the plugs with Apple devices which hog space on power strips, the Chromecast Ultra’s plug doesn’t intrude on other connectors or cables, even with an Ethernet cable connected. 

Even with an Ethernet cable connected to the power connector, the assembly doesn't intrude on other power adapters.

Setting up the Chromecast software from either the desktop version of Google Chrome or the Google Home app takes only a few screens, with very little user input.  Using the LAN cable is highly recommended over Wi-Fi, even for the initial setup.

You can set up the Chromecast from any Google Chrome browser.


Popular posts from this blog

Quick Fix: MS Office Click to Run and CPU usage

Where are my WeChat for Android downloads?

MS Project 2016 Basics: PERT diagram and Slack/Float Part 1