Chromecast Ultra Review 2020: Everything you need to know

What is Chromecast Ultra

Chromecast Ultra is a media streaming device developed by Google. Since debuting in 2016, Chromecast Ultra has unveiled three generations of devices. Chromecast Ultra dials things up a notch over the regular Chromecast model by supporting 4K streaming. That’s because Chromecast Ultra generates much more power than its base model counterpart. 

Google Chromecast Ultra differs from many of the other streaming devices out there. Most significantly is how Chromecast Ultra casts your favorite apps directly from your smartphone to your TV. The 2 screens mirror each other. So, you’ll have full control of all your apps at your fingertips. Most apps are compatible with Google Chromecast like on-demand, music, and gaming services, as well as live TV cable-alternatives. That means you can switch between Disney Plus and Sling TV all from 1 of the select devices. 

By comparison, media player devices like Amazon Fire TV and Roku use their own interfaces that contain all of your apps. These devices come with remotes from which you can navigate their interfaces and select the apps you’d like to download and play.  

Chromecast Ultra pricing 

Google Chromecast Ultra is available in the Google Store for $69. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can find Chromecast Ultra for the same price, while also taking advantage of free two-day shipping. 

To put that into further perspective, Google Chromecast costs $29.99. Amazon’s Fire TV stick comes in at $39.99, while the Fire TV Stick 4K is priced at $49.99. Roku also offers a number of streaming devices like Roku Express ($29.99), Roku Premiere ($39.99), Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49.99), and Roku Ultra ($99.99). 

Chromecast Ultra features 

Google Chromecast Ultra has a few features but is efficient because of its simplicity. So, as noted above, don’t expect a remote because your device serves that function. In fact, don’t expect Chromecast Ultra to have nearly as many features as Roku Ultra. But the features it does have may surprise you. Here are the best features Chromecast Ultra has to offer. 

What devices can I stream Chromecast Ultra with? 

Chromecast supports a variety of devices. First, you’ll need to make sure your TV has HDMI inputs. Next, only select devices can actually cast your apps to your Chromecast Ultra. These include Android (5.0+) and Apple’s iOS (12.0+) products like laptops, smartphones, and tablets. 

Your preferred device will require the Google Home app to function with Chromecast. Since Google owns Android, many Android devices come with the Google Home app already preinstalled. For anyone else, you can find the Google Home app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. 

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Chromecast Ultra design

The Chromecast Ultra design is discreet, unlike your typical, bulky set-top box. The Chromecast Ultra dongle is a circular shape and available in either black or white. A cable protrudes from the dongle that’s to be inserted into the HDMI port. There are also a few wires and an additional power source for extra energy, which you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re mounting your TV. More wires. 

Competing brands like Amazon and Roku also provide inconspicuous options like Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick+, which take the form of a thumb drive. 

How to setup Chromecast Ultra 

The setup process for Google Chromecast is relatively easy. Before you get started, you’ll just need to make sure you have a decent wireless internet connection. Then, unbox your Chromecast Ultra, which includes the Chromecast dongle, a USB cable, and a power source. After plugging the USB cable into your Chromecast Ultra and power adapter, insert the Chromecast Ultra into the HDMI port. 

Power your TV on and switch to the correct HDMI input. During this time, you’ll also want to have your device ready with Google Home downloaded. From there, select your device in the Google Home app, and the synchronization process will begin. A few prompts to ‘Continue’ will populate, followed by a code. 

To finish the setup process, choose a name for your Chromecast Ultra and sync up with your Wi-Fi. Make sure that your device and Chromecast are using the same network. 

Chromecast Ultra streaming quality 

With the Chromecast Ultra, you can watch your favorite content in up to 4K ultra high definition (UHD) and high dynamic range (HDR). So, if you have Netflix, then you can enjoy Stranger Things in crystal-clear 4K quality. Or, you can tune in to Monday Night Football with your fuboTV subscription and never miss a detail. 

To enjoy your 4K experience with Chromecast Ultra, there are a few things that you’ll need to have. Only 4K capable TVs can deliver 4K quality content. Seems simple enough. Most TVs today are able to provide 4K quality, but if your TV is an older model, then it might not be able to. The same also goes for HDR. 

You’ll also need to make sure you have internet speeds of at least 20 Mbps. If you’re uncertain about the reliability of your Wi-Fi connection, then you may want to consider an Ethernet cable. That way, your Chromecast will be able to maintain the internet speeds necessary for 4K UHD. 

Chromecast Ultra available apps

There are tons of apps that you can stream with your Google Chromecast. These include apps for games, live TV, music, on-demand movies, radio, web browsers, and more. Google continuously adds new apps to its list of supported apps. Here are some of our favorites. 

Voice features

Devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+ come with remotes with voice command features. Rather than utilize a physical remote, Chromecast Ultra lets you use voice commands via the Google Assistant app. Again, make sure that you’re connected to the same network. To use, simply open the app, navigate to the menu button, and then tap ‘More Settings.’ From there, go to Services and click ‘TVs and speakers.’ Select the plus sign “+,” check Chromecast Ultra, and tap “Add.” 

Now, you have the ability to access your music playlist or that show you’re binging with just a few words. 

Connect your Google account

During the setup, you’ll have the ability to also sync up with your Google account if you have one. If you don’t have an account, no problem — you can simply skip the step altogether. However, if you’re someone with a Google account, then you’ll be able to switch between your device and your TV quickly and easily. That means you can jump right to your YouTube playlist or pull up your web browser in a matter of seconds. 

Gaming with Google Stadia

Google made Chromecast Ultra an essential component of its newly released Stadia. Unlike gaming consoles a la PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Stadia uses a purely cloud-based system where you’re able to stream high-quality games. That means you won’t need to worry about bulky hardware and constantly downloading updates. Google Stadia works with a Chromecast Ultra, a Google Stadia controller, and a subscription to start playing. Since Stadia is cloud-based, your entire gaming experience hinges on the efficiency of your internet speeds.

If you already own Chromecast Ultra, you’ll just need to make sure you have the latest Stadia firmware updates. Then, all you need is the Stadia controller to start playing. Eventually, there’ll be a software update down the line where you can use other controllers like a PS4 DualShock to play Stadia. But for the time being, you’ll need the Stadia controller. 

Google Stadia carries many of the same games that are available with console and PC games. These include popular titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle, Destiny 2: The Collection, DOOM Eternal, Final Fantasy XV, Mortal Kombat 11, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Red Dead Redemption 2, and tons more. 

The final cut 

Chromecast Ultra is a fantastic solution for streaming apps like Disney Plus, ESPN+, and Philo. But not only that, you’ll be able to stream music apps and even game with Google Stadia. Ultra connects via your TV’s HDMI port and lets you cast content directly from your smartphone or tablet. It doesn’t have an interface or provide a remote control like Roku devices. However, it does offer other valuable features like voice control with the Google Home app and 4K streaming capabilities. 

Would you like to learn more about Google Chromecast? We recommend our full Chromecast review so that you can see which Google device is best for you.