I purchased a Chromecast 2.0 last week and set about putting it to the test to see what was different from the original product. The answer has been not too terribly much from a user standpoint thus far, but that’s not a bad thing.
I’d expected a little more polish on the OS and hardware. I got it on the hardware, but the pairing failed once, appeared to lock up one time post pairing for 20 seconds, and then I got to sit through a forced update and reboot before I could play with it. It did do the update with a little more flair though.
The initial experience however did include a new minute+ long video telling me how to use a Chromecast while showing a video of some people watching a video of someone doing a sick bike stunt. That was new.
After the reboot I sat down to start streaming some YouTube videos. I was looking forward to seeing some performance improvements. Unfortunately I still ended up with the buffering dots spinning while it was attempting to load an advertisement.
The Fast Play software that predicts what you might want to watch next based on your viewing habits didn’t seem to be able to figure me out, or perhaps it was just that it was buffering around the advertising. Whatever the experience didn’t seem to be particularly changed.
I went into the Chromecast app, chose to check for offers, the TV said there were five offers available, and the Chromecast app claimed the operation had failed and asked me to verify that the Chromecast was set up and ready to cast.
As of today I still have not been able to check for offers. Not that this really bothers me, but it’s not polished like I would assume the experience would be after two years of development.
Apps on the Chromecast appeared to launch slightly faster, not that I had a lot of hatred of the speed of the original Chromecast, but it did look like YouTube popped up slightly better. Netflix too. Guessing there’s a slightly faster piece of something in the system or perhaps more memory.
All the WiFi in my house was showing up as full bars, so I connected it to the WiFi I knew to be the worst (1940s house, plaster walls, something like chicken wire in them that makes it like a Faraday cage, have to have multiple APs,) and streamed some HD video without a hiccup.
In that, the Chromecast 2.0 beat the original. Connecting to the weakest signal, the original would stutter some before functioning. With 802.11AC capabilities and an antenna that picks up weak signals extremely well, the one place the Chromecast 2.0 shines is reception.
Overall, it feels like an upgrade, but there’s nothing I had to have on the 2.0 feature set, and they really need to work on a seamless experience in both the spinny circles buffering the advertising and the inability to redeem and connection fails.
If I seem unenthused, I’m not. It’s a good product. I like it. I’m not disappointed.
You can pick up a Chromecast 2.0 online at Walmart.com. No, they’re not on Amazon because they’re viewed as a threat to the Fire line of products. They’re available pretty much everywhere for $35.